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Bring Out Your Dead: Corey Holms

By Rebecca Bedrossian

Although the work was a creative success, the client said no. The artist, Corey Holms, shares his thoughts. 

Rejected design

THE ARTIST LOVED IT. THE CLIENT REJECTED IT.

It’s an all-too-familiar scenario. Most creatives have a file of their best rejected work, their own personal Salon des Refusés. When we asked Los Angeles designer Corey Holms to dig up a project that never saw the light of day, he reached into his “Catalog of Failure” and pulled out a poster designed for the 27th Israel Film Festival (IFF). 

It’s a striking, typographic solution, so what went wrong?

This project started out like many others for Corey, who is regularly hired by entertainment design agencies. A creative director from the now-defunct company Cimarron was looking for someone to generate ideas and build out posters for the IFF. Corey fit the bill and was brought on early in the process.

For its 27th year, the IFF was looking for something different. “The brief asked for festive, bright, and colorful,” Corey explains. “They didn’t want something that was considered ‘Israeli,’ so the Star of David and shape of Israel were off the table.”

Corey looked back at the varied styles and techniques used in past IFF posters and found that illustration was often the main element. So he revisited the brief, took the IFF’s idea of doing something different, and ran with it all the way to a typographic solution.

Chosen design

MAKING THE TITLE THE STAR

Corey took full advantage of not being legally confined to a specific size, and he made the title the star of the poster. Building off type, he then explored the idea of print. Corey chose CMYK colors and traditional overprinting techniques. In the end, he says, his design is “a celebration of the poster.”

“I wanted the title to be as big as possible, since you can never really do that with movie posters. With a movie poster, the billing block [the credits at the bottom of the poster] is legally bound to be a ratio of the title. There is a little wriggle room, but typically it’s 25 percent of the size of the title. So, if the title is 100-point type, the typeface in the billing block must be 25-point. This means that if you make a logo really big, the billing block will take up one-third of your poster—which no designer wants.” This is one reason big titles are rare in movie posters. But this was client work, and the client said no.

When asked if he thought his rejected solution met the brief, Corey was thoughtful: “An all-type solution hadn’t been used in ten years or more, and I think it fit the other requirements of fun, colorful, et cetera. That said, I could see how a client might not find something done in the International Style as being celebratory. You can see by what they chose that that was a deciding factor.”

While many design aficionados would argue that the International Style is in fact celebratory, the IFF went in a completely different direction—a solution created without Corey.

So Corey’s poster was killed, filed away, and buried. Is he happy with it? Does he still like it? He answers with a resounding, “Yes, because it’s all type. I almost never get to do type-only solutions, so this was fun. And I’m glad I was given an open brief that allowed me to go this far with it.”