Beautiful Thinking.

Beautiful Thinker: Wes Anderson

Why the visual artistry of Wes Anderson is the perfect opportunity to lose yourself, and a source of inspiration for Zandra Restubog.

When Zandra, a member of our design team, was asked who she chose as the Beautiful Thinker that has influenced her over the years, her answer was quick.

Here she champions the brilliance of Wes Anderson, and his ability to build a rich tapestry in every scene he creates, with purposeful thought behind every detail.

He perfectly embodies Free The Birds’ desire to inject a beautiful thought into everything we undertake.

Anderson has truly become an influential force beyond his movies. The Accidentally Wes Anderson movement, now an exhibition and book, encourages us all – whether a fan of his films or not – to discover the quirky joy of his genius in everyday life.

He has reportedly been dubbed “the most meticulous filmmaker alive”, with a depth and devotion to each film, each set, each shot that ensures his fans fall in love with every picture he creates. This includes our own Zandra.

The ways in which he builds a setting are undoubtedly highly significant to Anderson’s pictures. From the crumbling opulence of The Grand Budapest Hotel to the colour-blocked breakdown of The Royal Tenenbaums’ home and its inhabitants. Every one of his pictures has its own, distinct visual identity. And yet, it is clearly Wes Anderson.

When considering the stages he sets, Zandra stresses that you must take in every element. The joy of watching his movies was perhaps best encapsulated when she shared, “You can’t blink because there’s always little details that foreshadow what is happening and what each character is about.”

The pictures hanging on the walls, the items displayed in the background, each shot is so carefully considered you cannot help but feel swallowed whole by the world he has built. Even an open suitcase featured in a scene is laid in such a way that each item is carefully regarded and depicted. Nothing is missed, and for good reason.

The symmetry which his shots have become known for shines a spotlight on intent. Every detail, every item in a scene, has a purpose. They speak to the characters they belong to.

“Often the characters don’t need to speak, you can see a picture of them or a shot they’re in and you can understand who they are as a character. You can visualise the whole story without actually saying anything, which is what we as graphic designers do.”

The depth of what a designer’s role entails, the goal of communicating fine detail in an instant, mirrors Zandra’s admiration for Anderson’s work.

Graphic designer Annie Atkins was employed by Anderson to bring to life The Grand Budapest Hotel. Every element of the fictional world of Zubrowka was built by the designer to an incredible degree. Street signs, passports, stamps, business cards, police reports; the breadth of work created is staggering. Even three fictional newspapers designed for the film – The Continental Drift, The Daily Fact, and The Trans Alpine Yodel – featured original articles all written by Wes Anderson. Even those not directly featured in a shot from the final cut of the film. Each and every prop spoke to the script and the world in which it was set.

A key element of Anderson’s visual identity for his movies and an excellent source of inspiration for Zandra, is his use of colour. The highly saturated palettes add to the otherworldly feel of each of his films. Her favourite of his pictures, The Royal Tenenbaums, artfully captures each character’s offbeat personality in a dedicated colour palette.

“They have a specific style, and the choice of colour reflects who they are as people and reveals more about their character.”

Zandra also touches on Wes Anderson’s ability to create something magical in his storytelling, elevating what could be unexceptional in its normality. A family. A guest at a hotel. But it is the magic of Anderson (and of designers) to dive into the microdetails of a visual presentation to create something exceptional. His stunning visuals give weight to offbeat and well-loved stories, which together give him iconic status as a filmmaker.

It is the meticulousness of Wes Anderson which creates such a strong recognition for his work and in turn, such a strong emotional connection for fans like Zandra. The ability of talented individuals from filmmakers to graphic designers which bring a visual identity to life allows us to be transported out of ourselves and into new worlds.

True magic.

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