One defining characteristic of MasterClass content is that each presentation is tailored individually to the instructors. The primary challenge becomes distilling those personalities and translating that into a visual medium, which typically allows for a good deal of creative exploration.
We’re always grateful when they seek our help, and having both read and listened to David Sedaris we were especially delighted when they entrusted us to design a package around his series.
David’s absurdist humor is highbrow, but his writing is also intimate, authentic and completely unpretentious. So with some initial direction from MasterClass, we set out to convey an elevated, casual everydayness, a vernacular that didn’t feel overly art-directed.
One such approach featured original illustrations in the spirit of artists like Marc Johns, whose work imbues deceptively well-rendered drawings with a childlike playfulness. Another took inspiration from the rich lineage of Penguin paperbacks.
Along with novels and essays David has also published compilations of his scrapbook diaries, artful collage arrangements comprised mostly of kitschy found objects and photography. This provided another angle to explore. So we assembled a variety of different moodboards, each informing a different approach, and began working on some initial frames.
Our work for Masterclass usually centers around a title sequence and a series of chapter and sub-chapter titles. Since all the deliverables have to come together to form a cohesive package, we make sure to devise a creative approach modular and flexible enough to incorporate a dozen or more iterations. Besides these hero elements, we also develop graphics toolkits to populate their class videos with lower thirds, title cards, and any other inserts appropriate for the subject matter.
Ultimately our designs employed archival imagery (mostly royalty-free from the Library of Congress) and distinctly mid-century typography (nearly thirty different typefaces!) to effect a blend of vintage paperback novels and jazz album covers with a bit of a DIY scrapbook aesthetic thrown in. We animated them with rhythmic pops and slides that fit with the jazz tracks chosen for the interstitial music beds, and built out the remainder of the graphics toolkit.
We’re thrilled with how it ended up, and most importantly we feel like it fits David to a T.