Rise & Grind

Critique: Grinding feature

With a nice change of pace from the True/False designs we worked on a couple weeks ago, this week’s Grinding feature had a lot of material to pull from. After reading the rough drafts of the text a few weeks ago, coming up with visual elements to accompany the piece about grinding and dance floor psychology was constantly in the back of my mind (whether I wanted them to be or not). The manuscript has an amazing sense of voice and visual imagery, but creating a fun/offbeat/edgy/analytical vibe through visual elements with little direction was a challenge.

I did, however, find inspiration in the Fitz and the Tantrums album art for Picking Up the PiecesI liked the bold color scheme and the way it conveys movement, blurriness and a sense of electricity so simply. I initially thought I could work this into the cover through some photo manipulation or illustrations, but lo and behold, we were provided with beautiful photography from MU photojournalism graduate student, Kevin Cook.

Photo courtesy of Dangerbird Records
Photo courtesy of Dangerbird Records

The selection we had to choose from had a good balance between more documentary shots as well as artistic photos that really played up color and lighting. With this in mind, wanted to strike a balance between the two and incorporate typography and color choices that would complement the art.

For the cover, I initially chose one of the really artsy photos where a couple is out of focus and blurry with almost a halo of light coming from them. It had a nice effect, but ultimately I felt like it didn’t do enough to pull the reader in and give them a good sense of what the story was about. Instead, I chose something that very visually represented the grinding story, and I used a more zoomed-out version for a splash page.

I stuck with the black, red and blue color scheme in the typography to mimic that kind of blurriness and movement associated with grinding and popular “party culture” dance. A few of the photos I chose with dominant color schemes also played up this effect. If I were to do anything differently, I would probably play around more with the arrangement of the photos along the grid. I think my layouts as they stand put more emphasis on the text instead of highlighting that this is a blend of an independent narrative with an independent photo essay.

Grinding cover



You can’t miss: True/False’s Boyhood and Rich  Hill

Every spring since high school, I’ve looked forward to a new installment of the True/False Film Fest. Since this could potentially be my last year as a Columbia resident with the fest literally down the street from me, I told myself that I had to make this year the biggest and best so far. I mean scarce amount of sleep, constant Q-ing for films, sitting in the theater for so long that your butt starts to hurt kind of big.

I guess that line of thinking worked out, and I ended up getting to see 12 films throughout the weekend.

My top pick for this year is a tie between Boyhood and Rich Hill. I guess both are coming-of-age stories, but each with a twist.

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is one of the rarer works of fiction at the documentary film fest that blends a scripted narrative with a 12-year timeline of filming and production. It’s particularly relatable because the protagonist in the film, Mason Jr., is about the same age as I am, meaning seeing him grow up and the cultural influences that make appearances in the film are what I experienced as well. But beyond that, it’s  a telltale story about family and growing up with a killer soundtrack and beautiful cinematography to boot. At one point, Mason takes a drive to Big Bend in Texas, and I had to stop myself from running out of the theater, jumping into a car and heading to the national park myself.

Rich Hill, on the other hand, follows three boys from Rich Hill, Mo., and their own family matters while living in poverty. Among other things, the stunning visual elements are an indication that there’s extraordinary in the ordinary, and even the most mundane things in life can be beautiful.

Photo inspiration:

One more thing about True/False (until next year) — take a look at one of their offices. The haphazardness and randomly quirky artwork just sets the scene for the home of such an event, don’t you think?

tf office


3 thoughts on “Rise & Grind

  1. I saw Rich Hill on Sunday at Jesse — not sure if you were at that one or a different showing. But the directors brought out the entire cast on stage. It was really cool. Obviously that element of T/F is amazing because instead of just watching a movie, you’re putting faces and real people to the movie characters I usually only imagine. Harley was funny, he literally was drinking a Monster on stage. Rich Hill was one of my favorites, mostly because of just how engaging the boys were. Holds your attention like few similar documentaries can. Also, I’ve seen Gummo and it’s weird AF so that poster seems about right.

  2. I didn’t get to see Rich Hill, but now I can’t wait until I can see it. We are hoping to do a story in Vox on the film and its makers. I hope it works out because the whole thing is right in our wheelhouse. Thanks for sharing the trailer.

  3. I’m jealous that you got to see a good amount of films last weekend. I really hope to travel back to Columbia for the festival in the years to come. I really like what you did with the typography for the grinding issue. I think it kind of resonates the whole feeling of being inside a club with the blurring lights.

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