Handcrafting Fictional Universes for Film with @annieatkins
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Graphic designer Annie Atkins (@annieatkins) helps turn fantastical, imaginary settings into intricate realities on screen. Most recently, as the lead graphic designer on the 2014 film The Grand Budapest Hotel, she was involved in creating almost every object in director Wes Anderson’s stylized world. The story takes place in a fictional Eastern European country, set between the First and Second World Wars.
“We looked at all kinds of references from 1930s Eastern Europe: telegrams, notebooks, antique newspapers,” she says. “I combed thrift stores and flea markets looking for old packaging and love letters, so I could get the style of everything from the handwriting to the postage stamps right.”
Originally from a tiny village in North Wales, Annie now lives in Dublin, but her film work draws her to diverse locations—and historical periods.
“I’ve never actually worked on a film or TV show set in the present,” she says. “The graphics I make for film are all for different times in history. I could be making calligraphic scrolls for medieval times or on-screen digital data for a spaceship 2000 light years away.”
Annie also worked on her first animated feature earlier this year, The Boxtrolls, where she texturized a world of misunderstood creatures who live underground and wear cardboard packaging for clothes.
“It was fun designing the graphics for their outfits. We had to create the entire town,” she says. “It’s fun working within a world where absolutely everything has to be invented from scratch.”