What is your favorite project to date and why (2006)?
I think maybe the titles I did for a Chocolate skateboards video years ago (1994-5?). It was one of the first things I ever did for them. I drew silhouettes of characters on the computer, then cut molds from the drawings. I then went to Girl in Torrance and Johannes and I filmed me pouring chocolate into the molds. We imported the video into Media 100 and made it hi-contrast and I put type over top. That was it. It was done. It ended up looking hi-tech though. It was one of the first times that the idea and the process outweighed the sort of manual effort put into something. Also it was great to work for Spike and Andy Jenkins, heroes of mine. So that project comes to mind.
Also having just graduated Cal Arts I was pretty determined to apply what I was doing there to my own world, skateboarding world. My entrance essay for the MFA program was about design living outside of the design world, hi for low sort of stuff. Around this time things were starting to get focused for me.
What was the concept and goal behind the Pepsi campaign?
To sell lots of Pepsi One? For me doing the campaign was about going through familiar territory and trying to keep it interesting. The campaign was based on graphic work I had been doing about 4 years ago. I still do very graphic work, and sometimes character-based work, but the specific work they were interested in was sort of in the past for me.
So I had a lot of the same concerns I always have when doing very graphic work, but I was also very practiced at it all, so the challenge in the project was to try to make the project challenging.
One of the concerns I always have when doing the simple graphic work is to make the images (in this case characters) have some sort of depth, or heart. I don’t want to put work out into the world that is just heartless simplification, I want to create things that are feelings or thoughts or jokes, distilled into their simplest cleanest form.
I always imagine some kid in their apartment, and one day someone puts up a billboard across the street, and in that low rent neighborhood (like where my studio is) they never change the billboards. So he/she has to stare at this same image for about 6 months, every day. So I do some simple 2 color graphic, and they have to live with it. So I want it to be the image that is understood by the commuter driving by to work, but that somehow grows on the person who lives across the street from it. I believe good intentions work to achieve both goals.
When working with clients, do you find it important your final result still resemble your own ideas and visual aesthetic?
I don’t care at all, but at the same time I like a lot of creative freedom, freedom to makes something the way I want. It has not really ever been a problem, clients generally gravitate to work that looks like I did it. Usually when I do something that I feel looks like I didn’t do it, it still looks like I did it too. If not thats fine too. Sometimes clients get bummed if you did something that looks different from what they know of your work, like as if you are fucking with them. Sometimes what I take seriously, clients do not.
If you could stop doing client work, would you? Or do you find client work is necessary both creatively and financially?
I do much more personal work, but I really like doing client work. Thats the whole game really, at least thats the game I have set up for myself. There is a part of the creative process for me that cannot be done independently. When I take on small client projects much more is generated than they consume, those ideas then have a whole life outside of the project.
It seems a little bit like a public school or home school dilemma. If your kid is super smart, and you are a super smart dad, like my friends Ian and Zoe, you might as well go ahead and do some home school then go to a big High School to meet boys. But what if you are not so smart, and your dads not so smart? Maybe you are better off getting ignored and bullied in public school, with a bunch of other kids learning to survive. Then take that anger and smarts and apply it to the chances you get, if you’re lucky to get a chance.
What keeps you going and motivated from project to project?
Everything. I have to motivate myself not to work so much.
What projects are you currently working on?
The Complete To Do List: I am working with Patagonia (the mountain gear co) on an extended contract branding and creating graphics for their Surf line. A record cover for Erlend Oye (from the Kings of Convenience) for The Whitest Boy Alive. We are also working together on a music/book collaboration right now. A solo show in LA at New Image Art. Work for a group show curated by Aaron Rose that will be in Mexico City in June. I have a skateboard Company called the Solitary Arts. We are prototyping a new board and wheel design right now. Just delivered a Title Sequence for a film called The TV Set. T-shirt designs for myself (running late on these). I did a line of Sunglasses that will come out next year, for a company called COLAB in Australia. I have to work on the packaging now. That is very strange, but I actually really like glasses. I have to get my car registered and smogged. I am late on this too. My daughter wants me to build a foot stool with her. I have the wood, but must perfect the design. Washboard abs by summer.
What hobbies do you have?
I have a lot of hobbies. I do things like surf and skateboard and have a healthy obsession with bicycles and bicycle riding. I like Hi Fi and children’s books, and children.
You ever shop for reptiles?
I live in Los Angeles, and you wouldn’t believe it but there are lizards all over the place. If I could sell a lizard for say $7.00 then I could be rich. My yard is crawling in slow moving lizards. My wife can catch them but they give me the creeps. So no WAY am I shopping for them, sell them, maybe. Also we had a rattlesnake in our backyard that was as thick as your arm. I swear, my friend who grew up in Topanga (lots of rattlesnakes there) said she had never seen one that big.
About Geoff McFetridge
Geoff McFetridge is a graphic artist and director in Los Angeles, California. Originally from Canada, Geoff moved to California to earn his MFA for Graphic Design at the California Institute of the Arts. His thesis project “Chinatown” won a distinctive merit award from ID magazine. In 1996, Geoff founded his own design studio, Champion Graphics. He also worked as the art director for Grand Royal Magazine from 1995 – 1997.
As a designer, Geoff’s artwork has graced magazine covers, clothing, posters, and furniture. He designed a series of t-shirts and home furnishings for Mini, a division of Xlarge Clothing. His “mini-poster packs” won a Design Distinction Award from International Design Magazine in 2000 and are part of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts Permanent Collection. Also, he created artwork for Dazed & Confused Magazine’s “Boycott Esso” campaign, which included stickers and animated video. Geoff has had solo shows at galleries around the world, including solo shows at Parco Gallery in Tokyo and Colette in Paris.
The success of Geoff’s graphics career naturally segued into titles and motion graphics for television and movies. The title-design for the skateboard company, Chocolate, was featured in the ACD 100 show, and earned Geoff an Art Directors Club Award. Geoff also completed the main title designs for the Dreamworks television show, “Freaks and Geeks.” His doodle-ridden titles for The Virgin Suicides, a feature film by Sofia Coppola, drew attention to Geoff’s work and led to prints and designs for clothing designer Marc Jacobs.
Geoff McFetridge’s commercials and music videos make use of live action, graphics, and animation. His animated spots for the ESPN Winter X-Games campaign were included in the Saatchi Cannes New Directors Showcase and also won a 2001 D&AD Award. His recent commercial efforts include the Napster Relaunch campaign, HP’s “N is for Nanotechnology” and an animation campaign for Orbitz.com.