Snow White in New York

I took a field trip this week, and had a flashback to 5th grade, when my brave father chaperoned our trip to Washington, D.C. Because he was a MAN, he got the boy group. And me. Andy Duggan brought a whoopee cushion and Brec Carson tried to pick up a moon rock from its pedestal. My dad is probably still trying to forget that day. I loved it.

But this week, I got to take 16 bright and budding motion graphic designers to The Getty as part of my Color Theory class. Such a treat. Despite the gray day, the color inside exploded.

In a wild and unexpected twist, MY art was hanging on the wall of the Getty! Seriously!

Ok, so I’m no Van Gogh or Monet, but a video for which I created motion graphics was playing as part of the introduction to the amazing Pacific Standard Time exhibit. I like to think that I can honestly say that I am an artist who has exhibited at the Getty…right?

The Pacific Standard Time exhibit was incredible. It’s a good thing my students were off on their own, because I’m sure I stood in multiple rooms with an awkward gaping mouth, walking around in circles cause I couldn’t decide what to look at first. At least I didn’t have a whoopee cushion.

This piece was my absolute favorite. I couldn’t stop looking at it.

MAGICAL SPACE FORMS by Lorser Feitelson, 1948

From the exhibit’s website, “Feitelson’s tightly fitted forms seem both flat and three-dimensional, and their highly contrasting colors and orthogonal outlines create a sense of dynamic thrust and movement across the surface of the painting. Magical Space Forms reduces color and line to essential expressive elements, creating a harmonious balance of form and space that evokes both rationality and emotion.”

The colors and shapes and movement bore a striking resemblance to a gorgeous picture book on my ever growing stack, Snow White in New York.

Fiona French’s retelling of the classic fairy tale is set in the funky, art deco, jazz world of 1920’s New York. It is also the 1986 recipient of the Kate Greenaway Award, an honor given by librarians to remarkably illustrated books published in the UK. I love a librarian with good style.


In any composition, the goal of the designer is to create movement in order to guide your eye in, around, through, and even out of the image. Movement has a certain rhythm to it, depending on the various elements within the composition. In both Snow White in New York and Magical Space Forms, the rhythm is punchy and staccato, (much like the jazz era in Snow White) because it is punctuated by the strong diagonal lines and bold, solid colors.

The diagonal lines disappear on the spread where Snow White is pronounced dead. Rather than speeding through the compositions because of the quick and magnetic rhythm, the pace slows down with stable and serene horizontal and verticals. They create a grid that feels a bit suffocating, enhancing the distressing news of Snow White’s demise.

But we all know how this story ends.

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