‘When Helvetica Met Sally’ and Other Font Pun Movie Posters
This Fall we had a little fun at the North Street studio, creating a line of posters, framed prints, and t-shirts that combines our love of movies, typography, and painfully bad puns. We call it Popkern Press. Here, Tom and Sean discuss how the idea evolved into tangible products in time for the 2017 holiday season, and the tools we used to pull it off. And if you’d like, you can grab the gear shown below and more at www.popkernpress.com.
Tom Conlon, Creative Director (TC) I think it was a Friday afternoon and the work week was winding down.
Sean Tice, Art Director (ST) I had come across a font earlier in the day called, A Love of Thunder, and it got me thinking it could be fun to come up with a list of font-themed puns that play on movie and book titles…and then actually design the posters.
TC We like to fill our downtime with fun side projects that either sharpen our design and dev skills or earn us some attention from the design community at large. Our last big one was a line of beers based on historical characters from our neighborhood, New York’s South Street Seaport district. We were so happy with the labels that we decided to go ahead and brew and bottle the beer to go with it!
ST The initial list of puns I threw out there was: The Girl with All the Glyphs, It Commas at Night, Citizen Kern, Blazing Serifs. The last two ended up becoming posters.
TC I just realized that your first ones weren’t font names at all, but type terminology. Someone threw out Back to the Futura, and that was kind of the spark. I think before the night ended we had a dozen ideas…seven or eight that were ultimately made into posters, framed prints, and t-shirts.
ST There was some criteria, though, right? If it’s a font name pun, the font needs to be very recognizable and generally well-regarded.
TC Yeah, to that last point we spent a long time trying to make posters for Pride & Papyrus and never succeeded making something we’d want to wear or hang on a wall. And believe me, we tried.
ST The other criteria is that the movie also has to be well known and highly-regarded…or at the very least a cult classic.
TC True, but we broke that rule with The Last Airdescender. You really stuck to your guns on that one. You’re aware The Last Airbender has a 6% on Rotten Tomatoes, right?
ST I am. But it’s such a good pun because it’s true. There isn’t a single descender in either the real movie title or our version of it.
TC We haven’t sold a single shirt, poster, or framed print of The Last Airdescender. But, let’s talk about how we ended up selling this stuff on Shopify in the first place.
ST: We were already versed in the Shopify platform from our design and dev work on Brooklyn Slate. For the products, I had heard of this company called Gooten that does on-demand fulfillment of branded schwag…everything from coffee cups to shower curtains. Their office is pretty close to our’s so we met up and shared our poster designs.
TC: They were the first people outside of North Street we shared this project with. They got it instantly.
ST Their platform is kind of insane. You connect a Shopify store to their platform, upload your graphics onto the products you want to sell, and they kind of handle everything from there.
TC We have zero inventory. Someone orders a shirt, Gooten prints it and sends it to them.
ST OK, so we know The Last Airdescender is my favorite. What’s your’s? Actually better yet, what’s your favorite one we rejected and never designed?
TC I liked Young Tungstenstein. It still makes me laugh. You?
ST Tobias Frere-Jones’s Diary.
To date we’ve designed a dozen posters, and we’re just getting started. Explore the entire collection and order your own tee or print right here. And follow along on Instagram for previews of our latest creations.
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