STRANGER THINGS Title Design
I got the chance to interview my friend Jacob Boghosian about the design process of the beloved show and cult classic, Stranger Things. Jacob was the Art Director and Motion Designer at Contend Adverting Agency in Los Angeles when he got to collaborate with Imaginary Forces and Netflix to create the Stranger Things title. If you’ve been living under a rock, and do not know what this Netflix show is about, then get on it right now!
For the non-designers reading this, the title is basically the typography treatment used in the beginning of a show that helps establish the voice and sets the tone for the genre. It’s not just simply picking out a “font” and slapping it on a background. There is usually a lot of research involved in selecting the right typeface and many design iterations take place before the right one is chosen.
A discussion with Art Director Jacob Boghosian
1. Talk to me about how you got involved with the creating the Stranger Things type treatment. Where were you working at the time? And what was your role in it?
We were originally asked to come up with moving key art and marketing ideas. My role at Contend was to create the logo for the pitch deck to promote all the marketing ideas we had for them. When Netflix saw the logo on the pitch deck, they shared it with the show-runners and in two months, they bought it from us without any additional revisions.
2. What kind of information did Netflix or Imaginary Forces give you when you got the assignment/brief to design the title for Stranger Things? Was it a script? The pilot episode?
In the early stages of the project, we were given a creative brief, a deck with certain core values of the show, and three episodes of the script. We definitely knew there was something special about this project after we read the brief and scripts.
3. What research was done prior to the typeface selection?
We looked at Stephen King book covers and 80s movie posters as inspiration for the logo creation. I also was listening to playlists and movie scores from the 80s as inspiration while designing the various logo options.
4. What typeface did you pick at the end? Why was this chosen?
We picked ITC Benguiat as our typeface because it clearly checked off all the attributes we were looking for. It felt late 70s-early 80s, it had an eerie horror feel to it, it looked like it belonged on a Stephen King novel, and it had enough interesting forms and shapes to live on it's own as a wordmark.
5. Do you have a favorite scary show/fantasy or movie from that era, the ‘80s, that you were into as a kid?
It's hard to chose one but my favorite horror movie from that era has to be John Carpenter's The Thing.
6. What have you seen or watched lately that’s been exciting to you?
There's a lot of good content out right now that excites me. I love what Black Mirror is doing especially the questions they pose to our society and how forward thinking the show is. Also, I'm a big gamer so I'm also excited about Cyberpunk 2077 and how fun it'll be playing in a futuristic world like that.
7. What Stranger Things character are you? Take this BuzzFeed quiz.
I got Will which states, "You're smart, kind, and somewhat shy. You value honesty and you always put others' needs ahead of your own. You have a creative mind, a big heart, and a youthful presence." I won't disagree with that :)
8. Can you remember the first image or images you saw that made you think about working visual communication?
I don't think it was a particular image that got me interested in visual communication. I was always more interested in the ideas behind images/designs. So, I recall when I was younger that I would have ideas in mind and was forced to learn Photoshop and Illustrator to apply those ideas which introduced me into visual communication.
9. How did your interest in graphic design evolve and eventually come to be your profession?
I initially graduated in marketing and learned a little about advertising and design during those years. After graduating, I quickly realized that I wanted to be more hands-on with the ideas I had so I went back to school and studied graphic design. From then on, I knew I found my passion in life.
10. How does working in a team compare to working solo for you? How did you adjust to joining a studio and how is work shared/ split between the team?
I'm a huge collaborator so I prefer working with others. Working alone is fine but I feel I get my best work when people add to my ideas or designs. I don't mind working solo because there's more ownership to the project but that also comes with responsibilities and pressure of making sure the work is strong and the relationship with the client is solid.
11. What would you say is your strongest skills and how have you honed that skills over the years?
I would say my strongest skills are ideation, storytelling and collaboration. I'm proactive at volunteering for certain projects that allow me to practice honing those skills. Also, I'm a very curious person so I tend to ask questions and absorb certain traits from people I admire.
12. How do you think online design resources (blogs, tutorials, forums etc.) have influenced the graphic design being produced today?
I think online design resources are underrated and have a huge impact on graphic design. We all use tutorials and check design blogs which inspire us to push our work to uncomfortable places.
13. What’s the best piece of advice you have heard and repeat to others?
14. What’s your personal motto?
You can't change the world but you can change the world around you.