Cinematic Utah Revisited

I designed this "Cinematic Utah" logo a few years ago for a personal photo series of classic movie theaters in my home state. The most distinguishing element of the logo has always been the custom "Utah" script, which I loosely based on the signage of Salt Lake’s famous Villa Theatre. Looking back with a critical eye, I drew the script pretty hastily, and masked the jenky spots with an inline and a weathered texture. Also, my original idea was for the beehive icon to double as the grill of a ticket window, but the execution wasn't quite there.

I’ve done a lot more branding and custom lettering work over the last few years, so my skills in that realm have definitely improved. I’ve also been reading Jessica Hische’s book In Progress, and have been anxious to try some of her tips and tricks. So, while readying a new Cinematic Utah Instagram page during a recent break from freelance projects, the time seemed right for a redesign.

Villa 2.jpg
Villa 5.jpg

I cracked open my original design files, but the mess I found quickly helped me determine that I should start from scratch. I dug out the Villa Theatre photos from my research material, crudely composited the appropriate letters together in Photoshop for reference, then started sketching. Once I began converting my polished sketch to vector, I really tried to nail the little typographic details like the playful curves and slightly rounded end caps.


The more I stared at the vintage photos, the more I fell in love with the letterforms. Since the word “Utah” obviously has a limited number of letters, the only sensible thing to do was to create a fully scripted wordmark (if only to give me an excuse to use that great curvy “E”).

Cinematic Utah Script.jpg

Since I didn’t want to use texture as a crutch this time, I dropped Brandon Printed Inline as the secondary font in favor of the crisp, Classic Hollywood-inspired Mostra Nuova Bold. I rounded off Mostra Nuova's sharp points so it would better pair with the softness of the “Utah” script.

Brandon Printed Inline

Brandon Printed Inline

Mostra Nuova Bold

Mostra Nuova Bold

Next I turned my attention to the icon, determined to properly execute my beehive/ticket window grill idea. The new icon works well as a small Instagram profile image. It also fits nicely at the center of a badge-style secondary logo. Quite spontaneously, the badge enclosure ended up resembling a film reel (not to mention the Emperor's throne room window).

The final pieces of this brand were a new border (also inspired by the Villa signage), and some subtle film grain for the background of each title card. I don’t think anyone will be confusing me for Jessica Hische any time soon, but I’m quite happy with how this redesign turned out.