I wake up around 8 a.m. and have some coffee. I make it down to the office by nine. I have a studio separate from my home across the yard. I design DVD covers and trade release materials for movies. I mainly work with Universal Studios and I'm starting to do work with Paramount. I didn't always work for myself though.
I worked for the same design firm for 12 years. I started as a production manager, and then I became a designer. We had a lot of great designers and computer operators in the office, so I picked their brains when I needed to know how to do anything.
After doing that awhile, I realized as a salaried employee, it's not a great deal. You work 40 or 60 hours, you get the same paycheck. I figured, why am I working for someone else?
For $6,000 you can get a state of the art computer that is as fast as anyone would need. In general, it doesn't cost that much to start up this kind of company. I had good relationships with my clients and luckily they followed me when I started my own company three years ago.
The first thing I do when I walk into the office is boot up my computers and check my e-mails to see what is in store for the day. A lot of times I'm sending and receiving PDF files. That's how the client and I communicate design concepts. I don't drive much at all except going to the studios. Because I live in Glendale, most of the studios are close by.
Ideally, I see the film before I start working, but very often I start on films before they are finished. I always get unit photography, though, from photographers taking pictures on set. There could be anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 images. I go to the studio and look at them arranged in portfolios. I could be there four or five hours looking through images and finding the images I want. It's a rather arduous task but it has to be done.
The studio will make a press kit, but there may be only 15 images and I want hundreds, as much source material as possible. From there, the studio gives me the direction they have in mind for marketing the design.
If the film is to be marketed toward high school girls, I'll probably make a cover that has some handsome actor. A movie marketed toward guys in their teens to mid-twenties probably should be more action-oriented.
I get to be pretty creative, especially in the first round of development. I take what the studio says and I turn it into what I want. In that round I present six to 12 possible DVD cover ideas. After the first round, that creative freedom may change.
They may take two of my designs and put them together. Sometimes I'm thinking: "That's going to look horrible." But I usually can end up making it look good. Sometimes I go back and forth through 20 rounds or so with the client before we get it right.
At a design studio I would probably have three people working on one project. Alone, I have to work a little harder to increase variability so it doesn't look like I did all the designs myself. That's what I miss a bit about working at a studio.
I usually go out and leave the premises to have lunch. I take clients to lunch so they don't forget who I am. You rarely get to know them when you are talking on the phone.
I leave my studio almost religiously at 6 p.m. I can always come back to the studio after dinner to work for a while because it's just across the yard. "
As told to Sarah Filus
* Scott Lasken
The "Shrek 2" campaign. "We did a ton of advertising; we even designed bus wraps 120 feet by 12 feet tall, put designs on the backs of the bus and characters in the windows."
Book List: Macabre stories, especially by H.P. Lovecraft
Performer: "I was in a punk band in the late 70s. We played around Hollywood and the OC for a couple years. We never quite made it, but I still play the bass."
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