Responses by Mark Braddock, creative director, and Cameron Murray, art director/designer, Block
Background: Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA is the premier theatre company in Western Australia. Its mandate is to tell stories through a West Australian lens, infused with the unique culture of Western Australia. To launch its 2020 season, “Stories from Here,” Block wanted to represent a myriad of views of all of WA by engaging the local creative community to help us. The client loved our idea of connecting with the work of local photographers, and curating images that reflect the diversity of Western Australian landscapes and stories.
Reasoning: We wanted to create a campaign that couldn’t have come from anywhere else. This meant scouring the region to discover a mix of established and emerging photographers. From outer-suburbia to the beach and bush, we recruited Chloe Bartram, Nick Cooper, Daniel Craig, Caleb “Salty” Davenport, Simon Deadman, Kate Hulett and Sam Shields to capture the diversity of local landscapes. We also hired internationally recognized reportage and music photographer Sam Harris, a Londoner who is now based in the regional Balingup. He shot the campaign’s portrait series.
Challenges: We wanted this campaign to feel inclusive and approachable, as theatre should be. A lot of the work that’s created for theatre companies is beautiful, sophisticated and minimalist, but it feels interchangeable. Another challenge was bringing everything together in a cohesive, authentic way. We took inspiration from signage, scrapbooks, travel journals, road directories and even old telephone books, with the color palette sampled directly from the land.
Favorite details: Our dedication to local creativity extended to the selection of a custom typeface called Westralia, which was created by Block designer Joseph Dennis. It takes its inspiration from local vernacular signage and old advertising including historic theatre playbills.
Specific demands: It wasn’t a demand per se, but choosing the landscape images was particularly challenging. Each play had to have an image taken in Western Australia, from a unique landscape photographer, who had to be based in Western Australia, which had to represent the play in some way. There was a lot of back and forth with photographers, asking where shots were taken, and shuffling them around between plays. In the end, there was a lot of stunning photography that we couldn’t include, but we were proud of the final selection of photos and all the photographers that were featured.
Anything new: We learned a lot about designing and producing custom typefaces while Joesph was in the process of extending the features and weights of the family during the early stages of the project’s development. This was the most direct exposure a lot of us have had to the work that goes into typeface creation, so it was a fantastic opportunity.