To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film franchise, Herring & Haggis took on a 23-day assignment. Each day leading up to the premiere of Skyfall, they screened a Bond film and designed a commemorative poster, ending with the latest installment. “Primarily a typographical and color exercise,” each design included a map to highlight the location of 007’s mission. Herring & Haggis is a side design business that Clif Watson and Maria Taylor have been growing since 2010. Taylor is from Sweden and Watson is of Scottish decent. The studio is in Jacksonville, Florida. They also work for an advertising and marketing agency, so Herring & Haggis’s own work gets done on nights and weekends. I asked Watson (the Haggis in the nameplate) to explain why they accepted this mission.
Why did you initiate this project?
Maria had mentioned wanting to own the Bond movies and it so happened that the 50th Anniversary set of all the films came out on Blu Ray just in time to be a birthday gift. She has fond memories of watching the films with her father back in Sweden as a child and I’d say she had seem more of them then I had when we started this project.
When we found some time one day to sit down, we put Dr. No on to watch. (Later we realized we watched it on the EXACT day the film had been released 50 years previously, which seemed serendipitous.) At the films conclusion the idea for the project was hatched when Maria suggested we should watch each movie and then do a poster design for it. This way we would task ourselves to make it through all of the films. At this point we were about a month away from the release of Skyfall. The daily countdown was conceived to get all the pervious 22 films done leading up the the 23 film on the 23rd day and hope that others who were counting down to the films premiere would be interested to follow along.
What were the guidelines?
We agreed early on that we would avoid the typical Bond marketing subject matter. No girls, cars, guns or martini glasses allowed! Over the 50 years there have been a range of styles for 007 posters, the majority using photography or detailed illustration like the work of Robert McGinnis and Dan Goozee. We went back to Joseph Caroff, who designed the famous 007 logo and the first West Side Story poster, who had a similar appreciation for minimalism as Saul Bass. As a starting point, this served for us to be able to tie back to a design sensibility present at Bond’s beginnings 50 years ago, as well as a style that would work well for us to be able to concept and create a poster in the space of a couple hours.
Color and typography would be inspired directly from having just watched the film. In some cases, the poster’s subject matter would focus on a key sequence such as the rocket coming out of the volcano in You Only Live Twice. In others it would focus on a small moment from the film that some might not recall unless being a Bond fan or having recently watched the film such as the bullet hole in the cello from The Living Daylights or the overturned chair with the seat cut out from Casino Royale. (That still hurts to look at)
In addition to the minimalistic, screen-printed-like style, we would use a map texture in the background of the key location of that film to tribute the globe trotting that has occurred over the franchise’s history. The use of the map and the 007 logo knockout would be the two constants across every design to tie the series together.
What was the toughest poster to do?
The toughest poster to do from a logistical standpoint came from having our internet provider… well… stop providing internet unexpectedly until they could come out on a Sunday night to repair. This meant a weekend of working up at Starbuck’s on our laptops. Free wifi and a few lattes later and we were able to keep on schedule with getting both Goldfinger and Thunderball done that weekend. Conceptually, the toughest to do came from a few of the sillier Moore films. Live and Let Die went through a few directions before settling on the alligator heads that Bond walks across like stepping stones. In the end we’d still call it a success by avoiding any reference to Sheriff J.W. Pepper in both the LIve and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun posters!
How do you think the project came out in the end?
It was difficult to judge the project while we were in the middle of it, head down, focused on the next one coming up. Fans of the films as well as the project started following along, emailing their support, favorite design up to that point and asking for printed versions of the posters. We received enough of those requests to go ahead with doing a small run (50 copies) of whole series. Knowing that people are finding valuable wall space to dedicate to framing and hanging our artwork has been a humbling and rewarding experience.
We saw that the Oscars will be paying special tribute during the award show next month for Bond being the longest running film franchise, so we are happy to see that this landmark achievement is something that other creative teams will honor as well. Looking forward to see what they come up with! And we’ll keep a set of posters on hand in case Briccoli’s office calls and wants some for the halls of Eon Productions!