How do you capture almost two decades worth of social change and political shifting and turn it into a show brand? That was the question we faced teaming up with Jeff Cooperman and our friends at Left/Right to create a graphics package and a show open for National Geographic’s series Generation X. Bottling that special brand of Gen X attitude — a powerful mix of resilience, cynicism, independence, and edge — would be tough, but essential.
We started with a long look in the mirror, reflecting about our own lives and what it meant to us to be part of that generation. Through several lengthy conversations with Jeff, we developed a visual storytelling device that transports the viewer from a singular moment that defined Gen X back through time, in the end revealing the root of the event or, in some instances, the problem.
The technical revolution from the seventies through the nineties became our inspiration — the shift from rotary to mobile, from vinyl to tape to CD, from film to video. The physical changes to daily life and how we live, capture and catalogue it led us organically toward mixing the mediums. We combined contact sheets, zoetrope motion effects, digital readouts, and photography and video of all kinds to create a single, dynamic graphic look for the series.
The time we spent meditating on our individual histories prior to our design work was not only fun and interesting, it paid dividends throughout the project. The collaboration with the fantastic Left/Right team became more personal for all involved. Our work was not only creatively rewarding, the end product — our graphics fused with their series — resulted in a fresh, new take and much-deserved spotlight on a generation once dubbed by the Pew Research Center as “America’s neglected middle child.” Break out that flannel shirt and have a look.