Following on from our feature What’s in a poster? we took a more in depth look into the work of designer Rebecca Pitt. Her portfolio contains an impressive collection of works for Found111, Wilton’s Music Hall and Trafalgar Studios to name just a few.
Rebecca is a glowing name in the theatre industry for creating distinctive, eye catching designs for some of the most renowned shows both here in London and across the UK. We chatted to Rebecca to find out a little more about what goes on behind the scenes and the process of creating a theatrical campaign.
- How did your career get started?
I started off working as a designer at Dewynters which was a great way to learn. I set up on my own when I decided I wanted a bit more variety and creative freedom. My work all comes through word of mouth – all the producers in this town seem to know each other and talk to each other – there are quite a few designers, and plenty of plays happening, so there’s plenty of work to go around!
- Talk us through creating a concept. Are you given any assisting materials such as scripts or soundtracks?
I start by reading a script and/or listening to a sound track. Sometimes, with devised pieces, if the script isn’t yet available then I ask someone from the creative team to describe what they think the production might be like. I’m usually more interested in mood and how a production makes you feel than I am in story, although sometimes there is a really arresting visual moment in a story that gives me ideas. I don’t really have a set way of starting a project – it’s different for each project – sometimes the image comes first, and sometimes the title treatments. My background is in drawing and painting so I tend to be more comfortable starting with a sketch pad, but sometimes I’ll start with a title treatment in Illustrator, and sometimes I’ll start by working with a photograph.
- What did you want to achieve with your work for Found111?
I wanted it to feel edgy, but classy enough to be at home in the West End.
- The work you have done with them, especially Fool for Love, certainly has an atmospheric tone, perfectly suited to the space. Did you feel the venue played a part in a creating the artwork?
Emily Dobbs at Found111 tends to pick plays which really suit the venue so in this case it’s hard to separate the play from the venue. The venue has quite a rough, urban, edgy, trendy feel, and so have the plays she’s picked.
- Inspiration comes from…
The script or the music, or sometimes descriptions of how certain moments might be staged. Sometimes there’s a metaphor or an image in the script that really grabs me, and sometimes it’s more of a mood that I want to get across.
- What has been your favourite project to date?
I really enjoyed ‘Love Birds’ at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe – the poster itself was a fun illustration, but I ended up illustrating a whole set of fake music posters and bits and bobs for the set, which was a bit different. They were all very silly, and I didn’t have to think about what would sell, I could just be as crazy as I wanted to! I also have enjoyed projects where I’ve built something physical as part of the process, for example a tree made out of rope for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and various bits of origami for Voce Chamber Choir.
Another favourite project (for different reasons) was ‘10,000 Smarties’, which involved me bulk-buying smarties from Waitrose for a photoshoot. The client didn’t want the smarties back afterwards…
- Is there anyone you collaborate with or would like to?
My little brother Joe is my favourite collaborator – I often ask him to model for me as he’ll do anything without thinking I’m weird (‘Joe, I need someone to pretend to be a goat and jump around the room’…’Joe, I need you to take a photo of your own feet in the bath tub’ etc). I also collaborate with a lot of fantastic photographers – Darren Bell, Nick Rutter, Bronwen Sharp and Richard Davenport to name just a few. It’s fun when I get to collaborate with different members of the creative team – I worked with set designer Gabriella Slade on Love Birds and Stig of the Dump – it’s always fun to work with other creatives, but most people in this industry are pretty creative.
- Last production you saw at the theatre?
The Path at the Yard Theatre.
- What attracts you to particular projects?
I usually choose my projects based on who is working on them – I like friendly, passionate people, and I have quite a few long-standing clients who I look forward to working with again and again. In terms of picking new clients, I’ll tend to go for shows that I find weird or unusual in some way. I like new writing because there are no expectations so you start with more of a blank canvas, but I’m also just a sucker for someone being really nice on the phone!
- What are you working on at the moment?
My friends and family often ask me what I’m working on, but most of my work takes place before a show is actually announced, so it’s all top secret!