One of the more challenging tasks when founding any endeavor is defining the brand. I have needed to go through this process several times – and it is never easy.
I find myself searching for words, images, movies, anything that would express the mood and purpose fluttering about in my head. As I also work in the web development world, I end up collaborating with graphic artists often. I have done so enough to accept that I am not one of them – actually, I envy the natural inclination to make beauty out of ugliness and wish I had the talent for it. As such, I try not to communicate specific design ideas (they will be bad), rather I like to convey moods and non-specific images.
Some of your honorable producers and I were watching a wonderful documentary released recently called Helvetica. It’s about a font (you heard me right). Actually, helvetica is probably the single most used font of all time. I thought the film would put us in the correct mindset to tackle this recent challenge of branding the Fringe. What it has done is driven most of us slightly insane – this font is everywhere and we can’t stop noticing it. I needed to force myself to stop looking at typefaces else I might really start to lose it.
Typography aside, branding is tough. It’s tough because you need to first know what you want to express, then figure out the most artful way to express it. As such, we spent many a late night in these early days of planning (we go up in 2010) just talking about what the Fringe is. If the Fringe were a Peanuts character, who would it be? (pigpen). If it were an artist who would it be? (bansky). If it were a movie would it gross more than 100 million? (probably not).
We came up with some basic language to try to express our brand so artists could have a crack at it:
Graffiti Art ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ the Fringe is tagged on walls, sidewalks.
The Fringe is an idea whose time has come.
The idea EMERGED from the streets.
Floating molecules joined to become an organism ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ that organism is the Fringe.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œFringe is RisingÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Grimy, Dirty, and Pure
ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s from the people
It had to happen.
Banksy meets hollywood.
A carnival, a circus
Then there was my idea to try to move forward without a well-defined brand. I wanted to make the brand a combination of all the artists with whom we collaborate – our brand is the brand of “Hollywood Art”. I felt like this would be the opening paragraph to a larger treatise shepherding in a “post branding era”. Noble thoughts, eh? Ok, so it isn’t very practical in practice. Recognizability goes a long way towards attracting audiences – certainly one of our “goals” in this process. Artist exposure is apart of our mission – and that’s hard to do without an audience.
Even though these initial, idealist notions may not work as initially conceived, I still think there is something to it. The Fringe is unique amongst artistic organizations in that it is a meeting of artistic minds, a hub of creative thought. Fringes bring together divergent forces in the art community into an organic whole. How can we graphically and artfully capture and represent this as an organization? These are the high minded thoughts that keep us up at night – we will all see how they work out.
We are making some progress, fortunately. We happen to be associates and friends with some very talented artists and are exploring some interesting ideas. As soon as we have some candidates, we will post them here.
With a limited number of venues available and demand expected to be high, how do we create a fair, unbiased process to select Fringe projects? This is a very sensitive issue as any ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œjuriedÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â selection process violates the underlying principles of Fringe. After all, the first fringe (1947 in Edinburgh) involved rebel artists setting up camp on the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œfringesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â of the much more effete and established Edinburgh International Festival.
Some Fringes navigate around this problem by establishing a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œlotteryÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â whereby Fringe projects are selected at random. Some approach it from a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œfirst come, first serveÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â basis. Others utilize a selection committee staffed with press, artists, sponsors, et al. Almost all Fringes level applicants with a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œfeeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â just to apply.
Amazing work has been produced using these paradigms, no doubt. We are trying something different.
To encourage participation from artists large and small, we will not be charging any fees to create a project profile on the website.
At the Hollywood Fringe, our community is central to everything we do.
We are big fans of Hollywood. To the rest of the world, Hollywood is an idea. It is a capital of the world, a place of legend. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s the spiritual core of the entertainment industry and a symbol of possibility and opportunity. People come here to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œmake itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â. Dreams are big and ambition is high.
ThatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Hollywood ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œthe ideaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â. The Hollywood in which we live is a little different than the sum of the worldÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s imagination and ambitions. So much more than buildings and concrete, it is the fascinating array of personalities that provide its character. Personal style and expression are the norm. Conformity and conservatism are not.
When I moved here from Iowa (I was born and raised in DC), it was the vast array of personalities and styles that immediately caught my eye and imagination. In many places on this earth, communities rally around a style and vie to conform to it. Here it is just the opposite – style is an independent expression of individual personality, culture, and taste.
And then there is the theatre. In recent years, Hollywood has undergone a renaissance of the arts. You can barely skip out your door without landing yourself outside a potential venue. The expansive ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œTheatre RowÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â stretches across Santa Monica Ave with dozens of professional theatre venues and companies. Somewhat ironically, Hollywood is a theatre neighbourhood.
The counterculturism and natural expressiveness of this neighbourhood combined with the plethora of theatre venues and companies create a fantastic opportunity to host a world-class fringe festival. We hope to combine these divergent elements into a living, theatrical organism. Fringe is independent, expressive, bold, experimental. It is the pursuit of an idea because that idea seems worth doing. It provides a safe, supportive environment for artists to take risks.
As we plan HollywoodÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s first Fringe, we are very aware that the community is the spiritual core from which this festival springs. Our inspiration, our ideas, and our support come from this place. As a result, the Hollywood Fringe will be unique. As atmosphere and water provide flavour to ageing whiskey, so to will Hollywood provide our festivalÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s flavour.
We are proud to develop a project that breathes this air and walks these streets every day. Ok, maybe not the air, but you get the ideaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦
The Hollywood Fringe Festival is an annual event uniting local, national, and international theatre artists in a celebration of the performing arts.
It’s mission is to:
Our first festival will take place in the Summer of 2010 in Hollywood, California.
Interested? Here are some of our guiding ideas:
AN EXPANSIVE EVENT
We are thinking at least 20 official venues. The venues would be filled with performances of all types: Comedy, New Plays, Hip Hop, Dramas, Solo Artists, and more. To manage this monstrous event, we seek enthusiastic, inventive, and driven people as associate producers, volunteers, coordinators, marketers, grant writers, and idea people. For a few days, we want to turn this city on its head and we can’t do it alone.
ALL VARIETIES OF PERFORMANCE
Within the Fringe itself, there will be multiple programs to keep things interesting. For example, there may be two nights dedicated to 10-minute plays. Perhaps we will stage a new play festival to celebrate new works. We may stage an improv festival or one dedicated to sketch comedy. The nice thing about Fringe is that it is all-encompassing. We needn’t be hog-tied by a specific vision; all performance-based art is welcome.
Up and down theatre row, everywhere you look there will be stuff to look at. Clowns, Mimes, Commedia, fire eaters, performance artists. Add to that food stands, merchandise sellers, information booths. We hope to create a real circus-like scene, making the the neighborhood a little crazy.
Our current plans are to hold the event in the Hollywood, CA area. We want audience members to easily wander between theatres to check out new and interesting events. Hollywood is a wonderfully diverse neighborhood steeped in history and culture. It’s also a little rebellious, a little rock n’ roll. And, of course, there are tons of venues all within walking distance. The Fringe is a love letter to this place.
We will be spending a lot of pain and effort making this a very tech-savvy event. We have several Internet aficionados on board with us, and plan to provide services to artists and audience to make this a truly wired event. To begin, we have launched this blog to connect with our community.
FOR THE COMMUNITY
if you are reading this, you are probably a direct or indirect member of the arts community. This event is for you! We welcome your participation, feedback, thoughts, complaints – all of it. We oblige every request; we will always be open minded. It is not our place (the festival producers) to make judgments on art, politics, religion, etc. On these points we are completely agnostic. We facilitate performances for passionate artists. If you have the passion, we are here to help you realize your vision.