Women Under the Influence (abbreviated to the catchy term WUTI) is a film festival that piqued our interest not only for its collection of female directors, but also its identity designed by the brilliant Claire Huss.
Claire, an art director and designer based in Paris, has garnered quite the reputation over the years. With tactile work involving carefully selected paper stocks, colour combinations and typeface choices, her select group of clients includes an array of creative practitioners, as well as her work with clothing brand Cos where, until recently, she held the position of lead graphic designer. Now fully concentrating on her own practice, the designer’s identity for WUTI hints at more sigh-inducing work to come.
Meeting Laura Rule, WUTI’s co-founder and creative director when Claire visited Los Angeles last year, once the plans were in place for this year’s event the designer got to work visualising Laura’s ideas graphically. Given a “precise brief that included references with a strong sense of colour and 70s inspired typography,” Claire was encouraged to create an identity that would feel “wild and bold”, rather than following the heavily trodden route of representing creative women as “polite and feminine”. Already handed WUTI’s logo drawn by London-based illustrator Jo Ratcliffe, Laura also packaged up a series of fonts for Claire to work with designed by Nazareno Crea of ABC ETC INC, a type foundry in New York.
“With all of these ‘ingredients’ in mind, I had a very clear idea of the visual direction Laura and Tabitha Denholm [WUTI’s founder] wanted to take for the festival,” Claire tells It’s Nice That. Identifying her role within the event as “defin[ing] a graphic system that could incorporate film imagery from various sources in a consistent, yet playful way,” the designer began by sitting with the films the event would showcase.
From here, Claire developed the “idea to repeat film stills in the manner of a filmstrip and associate them with bold blocks of colour in order to create strong disruptive visuals,” she describes. These bold colour choices were also inspired by Claire’s first visit to Los Angeles where the festival is held nearby. “I was mesmerised by the light and the colours of the city,” the designer tells us. “I wanted to inject these aesthetics into the festival identity and embrace the reference to California by using colour very generously.” In turn, her choices of bright shades of blue and red sat next to varying greens and even the odd pink, to “complement each other and clash at the same time – they feel retro but also contemporary,” creating a systematic framework for the festival to showcase practitioners and need-to-know information.
Carefully selected colour choices also continue in Claire’s typographic treatment, choosing a dark navy blue for WUTI’s logotype creating “the illusion of a black as if it had been left to fade in the California sun,” she describes. And, despite colour immediately drawing a viewers eye in WUTI’s branding, typography is the main construct of the identity’s formation. Considering that WUTI celebrates cinema directed by women, Claire puts the women forward in her design promoting their first names. “The idea was also to reflect the spirit of the festival and personal connection after spending the weekend all together in the mountain of Idyllwild,” a pine cove and fern valley where the festival is held in California.
Women Under the Influence in Idyllwild runs from 20 – 22 September.
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