Art directing photo shoots has been one of my favorite creative endeavors. It combines aspects of visual storytelling with on-the-fly decision-making. It’s exhausting and fun as hell. I always scrutinize the background details in ads, commercials, films, TV shows, and editorial photography, so I’ve enjoyed being a part of that “worldmaking” process.
Did you know that Mr. Belvedere was set in Pittsburgh? Or Family Ties in Columbus? Or that the sex scene in Team America features Philippe Starck’s Juicy Salif as a floor lamp in the background? I’m a sucker for details, and these things stick with me, especially when they have to do with places. In fact, when I was younger, I fixated on sitcom places, even when they really weren’t relevant to the plot.
For example, it drove me nuts that Carol, the smarty-pants on Growing Pains, commuted from Long Island to Columbia every day. That’s a really long trip. Or, in Next Stop Wonderland, the stops on the Blue Line are incorrect for reasons that don’t seem to affect the story.
And so… My current apartment has been the setting in two craft books — Closely Knit: Handmade Gifts for the Ones You Love by Hannah Fettig and Sweet Needle Felts: 25 Projects to Wear, Give and Hug by Jenn Docherty. Those are also books I designed, and I think the background details definitely add to the over all tone of those books. Closely Knit also uses other OTR locations like Coffee Emporium, City Roots, and the faux-finish columns of the Ensemble Theatre. If you’re familiar with the neighborhood, you’ll pick up on the details. If you’re not, hopefully the backdrop is pleasantly urban.
Today my home is the setting for a book I’m not designing. I don’t even know the title. I’m really curious to see [sometime next year!] how another art director will use the space and the objects within it to tell whatever story she’s tasked with telling. All I know is that it involves quilts…