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5 Amazon Prime documentaries every creative should watch

5 Amazon Prime documentaries every creative should watch

Posted 22nd March, 2021 by Sarah

There was a time when watching television at work would have been a sacking offence.

However, today, popping the box on during the nine to five can actually lead to a world of learning opportunities.

If you’re a designer, or anyone working in the creative industries, and you have some spare time on your hands, why not take the chance to do some ‘industrial updating’?

Take the opportunity to learn about the history of the field you’re working in and, also, to learn from successful individuals within that field.

You never know which off-the-cuff comment by a legendary designer or artist will fire off sparks in your imagination and set you on a whole new creative adventure.

On this blog, we’ve previously offered you a list of Netflix documentaries every designer should watch and a collection of graphic design blogs to spark your creativity, as well as some extraordinary website designs to inspire you.

We’ve also offered you a selection of YouTube channels every designer should visit and podcasts that can help you take your side-hustle to the next level.

Now, here’s our selection of five Amazon Prime documentaries and shows you should make time for...

1 - Art of Style

2018

10 episodes, various lengths.

This series of short profiles gets up close and personal with some of the creative world’s most successful and inspiring artists and designers.

Subjects range from exciting contemporary fashion designers, such as Thom Browne and Iris Van Herpen, to artists like Georgia O’Keefe and art director Fabien Baron.

Baron, for example, had probably more influence than any other designer on magazine layouts in the 90s - working on ‘Italian Vogue’ and ‘Harper’s Bazaar’ he was responsible for emphasising the importance of white space, something which continues to be a significant design choice in today’s website landscape.

As always, it’s great to hear from successful creative leaders about what inspires and drives them. Such testimony is the fuel that fires a creative career and we learn from the best.

2 - 24x36: A Movie about Movie Posters

2017

82 minutes

This documentary guides you through the world of movie posters, which is a surprisingly vibrant marketplace, at the moment - with many film fans and graphic artists making a good living creating posters in hotly-contested limited numbers.

People who love traditional hand-painted posters bemoan the rise of Photoshop as the primary creative tool for producing posters. Traditional film posters by artists like Drew Struzan are still held in far higher regard than the photo-montage posters we typically get these days.

But, then, the same digital tools which supposedly brought about the death of the cinema poster allowed the creation of a secondary market of licensed posters created by digital artists like Olly Moss and Kevin Tong.

Drawing on interviews with artists (traditional and modern), collectors and film directors, this film frames the death and rebirth of the illustrated poster and shines a light into a lucrative creative industry which many may be unaware of.

24X36, by the way, is the size of your typical poster!

3 - James May’s Toy Stories

2009 & 2011

12 episodes, various lengths

This show offers a lighthearted and thoroughly British perspective on the social history of toys from our collective childhood and the lasting impression they have made on generations of children. Meccano, for example, was the kind of toy that inspired children to be engineers, Airfix model plane kits inspired them to be pilots.

The features that lift this show above simply being an educational documentary, are its attempts to make old-school toys like model trains and Scalextric appealing to ‘young people’. To achieve this, James May embarks on some record-breaking builds - such as a full-size, one-to-one-scale Lego house.

4 - The Image Revolution

2016

82 minutes

This film tells the story of how a small group of artists who worked in the corporate comics industry in the late 1980s, changed the publishing landscape. These abrasive, young creators decided, in 1991, that they’d had enough of working for ‘the man’ (in this case, the man in question was Stan ‘The Man’ Lee) at Marvel Comics.

Todd McFarlane and his friend, Rob Liefield, wanted to create and own the IP of their own characters and control their own professional fates.

So, they set up their own publishing company called Image Comics. This had a seismic impact on the world of monthly comic books - they changed the way comics looked and they made comics ‘cool’ for the first time.

This is an inspiring story about how creatives can become business leaders if they have a bit of entrepreneurial spirit and the nerve to take that first big step into being their own bosses.

5 - Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons and Dragons

2019

91 minutes

‘Dungeons and Dragons’ (or ‘D&D’ to its friends) is a game played on maps, with participants throwing oddly-shaped dice and constantly referring to sheets of statistics. It doesn’t look very dramatic because the game is, essentially, being played in the heads of the players. It’s a form of collective imagination.

That imagination is sparked by the imagery that goes with the books and the modules and manuals for ‘Dungeons and Dragons’.

Fantasy art that is dynamic and exciting and full of exotic colours and monsters is something we now see everywhere, from TV shows like ‘Game of Thrones’ to video games like ‘World of Warcraft’. A lot of that aesthetic can be traced back to Dungeons and Dragons.

This documentary charts the cultural history of the game and interviews illustrators and games designers from 40 years of the game’s history.

This is a fascinating testimonial to the way that images can inspire epic flights of fantasy in the viewers. If ever images were worth a thousand words, these are!

What’s on your playlist?

So, there’s our selection. Have you found something fascinating hidden away on Amazon Prime that you think other creatives would enjoy? Come find us on Facebook and tell the world about it.

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