Monday, January 14, 2013

The Living Seas


Welcome back to Designerland and our first case study of 2013. This year we'll be looking at the amazing fonts found throughout Epcot Center, with our first stop in Future World. Unlike the Magic Kingdom, when my family arrives at Epcot, we always begin our journey counter clockwise, so it only feels natural to dive in to the fonts of The Living Seas. I'll only cover the typography from the pre-Nemo era since this is the Living Seas we all remember and love.




One thing I appreciate about Epcot and especially Future World is the symbiotic branding of each pavilion, so we’ll see many of the same display fonts and classic typefaces over and over again. That's called hierarchy of design, but over time, we see that hierarchy broken as wackier, overly-themed display fonts sneak their way in.

In particular, when looking at the Living Seas, sans serifs fonts are the most prominent, which is fitting because sans serifs are generally used to convey a modern, futuristic feel. There are a few extremely futuristic display fonts scattered throughout Sea Base Alpha, but not too many. As I mentioned before, Disney fans weren't all too keen on photographing signage back in the heyday of the Living Seas, so tracking down fonts was somewhat difficult. Over time a few serif fonts such as that classic but overused Times New Roman made an appearance within the pavilion. In my research I found only one place this typeface was used—while I suspect this was just a quick fix type of situation, it still makes me cringe. 



The Living Seas was my all-time favorite pavilion within Future World, partly because of the powerful preshow with its amazing narration and partly because I have a fondness for water. This week, in addition to the type case study, I'm also showcasing a t-shirt concept honoring my favorite pavilion. 




The design is based on the vintage graphic illustration used on an early letterhead that promoted this new pavilion. The design is a simple three color gradient in shades of blue taken from the front facade of the building. This is set in front of a simple back print medallion with the Seas icon, typeset name and original Epcot Center logo.



Well that does it for this week’s case study. I hope you all have a great week and see you back here real soon. Thanks for stopping by.


16 comments:

  1. Nice job, the only issue is in the stuff to the left of the guy in the suit. Maybe it's the size of the graphic or the worn texture, but it seems a little bit of a jumble. Otherwise, you're pulling nostalgic heartstrings.

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    1. You're also not seeing it a it's true scale...printed out at 14" wide by 17" tall you can make out the graphic. It's also done in AI and since it's vector your don't loose any detail.

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  2. I think this is my favorite, of all your designs! I love the front graphic, but my favorite part is the back. It's simple, and yet it evokes so, so many memories!

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  3. I'm not sure if I am getting this website the right way...

    First off: I think all the stuff looks AWESOME!

    Second: Is this "just" a blog with pictures of POTENTIAL t-shirts or can those actually be bought somewhere? Would love to own some of those :)

    i'm not sure if i'll be notified if someone responses...so feel free to mail me at max.vingerhoets@gmail.com :)


    Keep up the great work!

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    1. The point of this site is to showcase concepts and ideas I have floating around in my head....stuff I want to wear, buy, etc. another point of this blog is to look at various signage and graphics throughout the theme parks and break down the typography.

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  4. Let's not forget the Coral Reef restaurant sign, in lovely Herb Lubalin and Antonio DiSpigna's Serif Gothic:

    http://www.wdwlive.com/photos/epcot/future-world/the-living-seas/coral-reef-restaurant-1-12.jpg

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    1. Yup, my name is actually set in Serif Gothic in the above case stud poster. I just opted to use bold.

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    2. I'm curious, where was Cooper Black used in the Pavilion? I don't recall seeing it there. It's been a long time since I've visited the pre-Nemo Seas...

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    3. It was actually used outside on a coming soon billboard in front of the construction walls. I just can't pass up the opportunity to not to showcase it. It shows a real 70s design mentality (conceptual era) to the actual 80s branding of Epcot when it opened.

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  5. wow!

    http://progresscityusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/seas-comingsoon-sharp.jpg

    I had no idea. It is odd...especially since the Living Seas opened later than the rest of the Pavilions. Seeing that sign in 1985 must have been quite weird.

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    1. Yup, that would be the sign! From what I've read and seen when Epcot was going through blue sky phrase imagineers had always planned on a water/ocean based pavilion. It went through some retooling and that's why it wasn't open when Epcot officially opened it's gates. I would like to imagin that this signage with its 70s fonts was a precursor to what we actually see (font and theme wise) when the pavilion actually opened. Maybe if we would of got the original seas concept we would of seen more seaworthy retro fonts? I also like it because it shows the transition from the 70s wdw resort display fonts into the 80s resort display fonts.

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  6. I know there may be obstacles to working with Disney to produce your work, but for the sake of your talent you have to overcome them. Your work is TOO GOOD to be blog concepts. I just found your blog today, fell in love with this t-shirt, then went to your Pinterest site and realized there were another 5-6 shirts I would buy (i.e., pay at least $30) in a heartbeat. Your work is what I have been searching for in WDW stores during every trip for the last six years there with my kids! I am SO tired -- as a 43 year-old man -- of going to WDW and realizing my clothing choices are infantile Mickey designs, Grumpy (as in "if you are an older man you MUST be grumpy") or "Donald in Anger Management." It is insulting, frankly.
    Richard, I have been waiting for your work for a LONG time. Please make this happen!

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  7. George, thank you so much for the kind words. I have tried to get on full time at Disney ever since 2006 but alas it's not in the cards for me. I've had many of interviews with no luck...that is why I made this blog to be honest. My designs are simple no brainer kind of designs and for an extremely forward thinking company my design asthetic is chalked up to a slim niche market making me look obsolete. There are many a folk in house that want to create things like I showcase here, but sadly there market is not based on old fans like you and me. My ultimate dream is to make build a store in downtown disney based souly for the fans where the merchandise sparks our past memories of the happiest place on earth. Maybe one day we'll see that happen. I'm glad my simple designs that harken the past have evoked memories for you...even if their just on cotton.

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  8. Have you ever thought about producing your designs via Threadless.com? They have numerous Disney-inspired t-shirts and even ran a Toy Story t-shirt design contest (DEFINITELY Disney approved, they are using the characters on their web site) some ways back. Cosnidering they already have some sort of licensing agreement with Disney, it would seem to be a very good fit for you.
    Sorry to be a pain but between this tee, the Water Electrical Parade tee and the American Adventure World Showcase tee ($%&#@! Disney for not reprinting this design), I can't stop thinking about buying your designs.

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    1. I have actually entered a Threadless Disney contest for its a small world. I like Threadless and they do with Disney consumer products but they don't have a normal license with them. I do work at a garment screen printing shop here in indiana and have all the tools to make them myself all I need is some start up Money and of course a Disney theme park liscense (which they don't do). My ideas and concepts contain a ton of copyrighted material and as a designer I do believe in ethics therefore I would never just print and sell cuz I can. I would give anything to be able to actually make these shirts no only for myself but for the fans. The only thing I can tell you is to request my work and designs at town square they next time you're in the parks...probably wouldn't help though.

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