Name in Lights
Graphics and signs lend reality to movie sets.
Ever wonder what it’s like to see your printed work on the big screen? Just ask Martin T. Charles, graphic designer at Sagaboy Productions in Santa Monica, California. He’s helped produce printed set decors for movies like “42,” “Seabiscuit,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” and most recently, “Velvet Buzzsaw,” a 2019 Netflix satirical horror film starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo.
Charles was asked to help fabricate the main settings of the film: the Los Angeles contemporary art scene and Art Basel Miami Beach. “I felt very at home in this environment,” says Charles in a release. “Having the opportunity to rework and enhance some of the art pieces before sending them to print was really enjoyable.” Charles and the art director and production designer of the film used the interior of the Los Angeles Convention Center to recreate locations called for by the script.
After researching past exhibitions, Charles used his Roland Soljet Pro XR-640 large-format printer/cutter to print and contour cut the gallery signage, original art show posters, all branding elements, and other art replicas. One art installation featured silhouetted figures printed on several layers of clear Mylar that was then cut into ribbons vertically and hung from the ceiling.
Not only did Charles print pieces for the film, his own printer was featured. A scene shows the interior of an artist’s working studio where 150-foot rolls of printed canvas are coming off a printer and then applied to handbags, skateboard decks, and other merchandise. The printer used? The same Roland that printed the pieces for the film.
“It was the perfect solution,” Charles recounted. “I started to show an on-set dresser how to operate the printer, but the director thought it would be best if I operated it since I was intimate with the process. ... It was wonderful being on camera, and I was pleased to be able to demonstrate some of the many ways that digital printing can be applied,” says Charles.