I found out about Ankles’ (www.ohankles.com) work through the editor of Collect Magazine (www.collectmag.com.au), Josh Fanning. Collect has championed the resurgence of independent businesses selling goods handcrafted by artisans. What has always struck me about the people they profile is that they’re not just adding ‘handcrafted’ to their mass-produced wares to give them a PR edge. Nor are they weekend hobbyists who sell arts and crafts every other weekend at the corner market. They are serious businesses that have found an emotional attachment to the artisan pursuit, and they love the products that result. Most importantly, the pursuit of handcrafted is not necessarily spearheaded by the pursuit of archaic technologies; those in the field that I most admire use modern technology to augment these traditional approaches. It’s where you’ll see the iMac next to the manual printing press.
It’s hard in film to approach things in a similar fashion, especially as a commercial filmmaker. We possess no interest in shooting on 16mm and Nagras. Nor do we want to throw Instagram filters onto everything we shoot. But the arrival of 35mm DSLR cameras shooting moving pictures, that can also fit in your backpack, have allowed us as a company to resurrect some of the visual tone and imagery of more traditional cinema, especially European cinema of the 1960s. Modern movements like Dogme 95 were a stop-gap solution to handle the arrival of digital; now we can finally combine modern technology with traditional looks in any way we see fit. We shoot digital, but we can now also feast on the visual library that the great masters provided us.
What I’m saying, I guess, is that we feel like we’re somehow allowed to cast ourselves (if only just) as members of this handcrafted revolution. Which is what we wanted reflected in our logo.
We’d been planning a new, simpler look for a while, and Ankles agreed to come on board. The term ‘Urtext’ itself comes from classical music, referring to a score that has endeavoured to return to the original intent of the composer, free of editorial intervention. It’s a concept we hold dear, and wanted reflected in our logo. Ankles, a typography obsessive, looked at traditional music scores and their intricate style for inspiration. We wanted a logo that would work across many spaces. It had to work coming up from black in a dark cinema. It also had to work as a facebook profile picture.
The logo Ankles arrived at is actually quite simple. Graphic design, like many art forms in the ‘commercial services’, strives to attain simplicity, often through complicated paths. And that’s what we think makes it so effective. And looking at it, there’s something in it that displays the artisan process. Not just because it refers to a more classical style, but because somewhere in there is the hand of the artist.
I’ve been working in the advertising game for a few years now, fearing what, and who, I’d find as I turn each corner. What I’ve found again and again are artists who strive to not be noticed, like the signwriters of the old world. I’m hoping this short film will be the first of many to peer into the process of such artists. To reveal the hands behind such simple things. Since working with Ankles I’ve found that I see the art behind typography wherever I look. Slowly I feel I’m becoming as obsessed as him.
I think that’s a good thing.
Director @ Urtext Films