You’ve probably already seen Saul Bass’ 1968 “Why Man Creates”, but it’s one of those little gems that deserves annual viewing. Sadly, only a five-minute excerpt is available online. You’ll have to shell out a $125 USD to get the entire DVD series. Ouch.
I was moved to share “Why Man Creates” after seeing this post on Mark Webster’s Motion Design blog and receiving an email from reader Oliver Martinovic. Mark applauds Saul’s simple but effective design; Oliver sees “Why Man Creates” as a precursor to visual essays.
It’s the combination of these two strengthsâ€”simplicity and narrativeâ€”that make Saul Bass’ work so timeless. It’s not the kind of work that leaves you awestruck and breathless. It’s the kind of work that crawls under your skin and sticks with you for years afterwards, often becoming a part of your own design aesthetic in subtle, subconscious ways.
The narrative playfulness in the opening credits for It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, for instance, doesn’t rely on particle effects or slick 3D camera moves to reel us in. Instead, it operates on the principal of “just enough” animationâ€”which ends up being just right. (The sound design, on the other hand, is a bit over the top.)
I don’t mean to suggest that particle effects and effective motion design are mutually exclusive. I’m simply saying it’s refreshing to see ideas in such a raw, unadorned form.
Thanks for the tip, Oliver!