As designers, we often try to find creative inspiration in our everyday lives, but every once in a while, that’s not enough. So grab your laptop and rent (or stream) these 10 brilliant documentaries about design, type, style and everything in between to get those creative juices flowing. Check out Can I Stream it? to find where you can stream these design flicks in full.
“Stripped” unravels the history of comic strips, addresses how cartoonists have dealt with the failing newspaper industry and looks into the recent transition of comics to the Web. The documentary includes interviews with over 70 comic creators, and the film’s poster features the work of Bill Watterson, his first since the end of Calvin and Hobbes in 1995. Even cooler, “Stripped” was made possible by the support of comic strip enthusiasts via a Kickstarter campaign that raised $109,025.
You’ll feel empowered and ready to start a revolution after watching this film about democratizing digital technology and how the abundance of opportunities for artists in the modern era, affects their work and talent. “PressPausePlay” features candid interviews with notable designers and creators, including Lena Dunham, Sean Parker, Moby, and Robyn.
Directed by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon, “Sign Painters” follows a number of creatives, young and old, as they revive the art of sign painting. The film aims to celebrate sign painting history, its American roots and the artists that are keeping it alive today. We think you’ll come away with a profound appreciation for the billboards, store fronts and signage you encounter every day. (And might be inspired to head to your local antique store to find an old hand-painted sign for your wall!)
Directed by Aaron Rose, “Beautiful Losers” follows a group of artists that focus in the DIY culture from the 1990s. Through underground music and graffiti, the artists discuss the origins of street art, how they became famous and the everyday struggle of making art for self vs. working for corporations.
The Cool School
“The Cool School” explores the development of the modern art scene in Los Angeles, via discussions with a handful of local artists. The film examines the influence of The Ferus Gallery, the first gallery to show post-war artists between 1957 and 1966, on legendary artists like Andy Warhol, Donald Judd and Jasper Johns.
Between the Folds
“Between the Fold” examines the beautiful art of origami, the traditional Japanese process of paper folding that has slowly evolved into a modern art form. With a focus on how nature and science play a role in origami art, the documentary features interviews with artists and MIT scientists, giving a unique perspective to the increasingly popular art form.
To Inform and Delight
An ode to Milton Glaser, one of the most important designers of the 20th century, “To Inform and Delight” explores his most famous campaign, I Love New York (stylized I ? NY), along with glimpses into his personal life, creative process, and reflections from various designers and design critics. The documentary even features design anecdotes from Glaser, including how music influenced his life and work. Fantastic inspiration from one of the great design masters of the last century.
Design and Thinking
“Design and Thinking” brings businessmen and designers together to discuss how design thinking can make our lives more efficient. The documentary provides an interesting perspective on the societal effects of design and how we can develop everyday solutions by approaching the world from a design perspective.
“Objectified” explores the relationship between consumers, products and the designers behind them. Paying homage to beautiful design, the film focuses on the process of Industrial Design and how the commercial design industry affects our daily lives.
Directed by Gary Hustwit, “Helvetica” follows the history of the most popular typeface in the world and addresses the possible reasons for its popularity. In addition, the documentary delves into the background of graphic design and the evolution of typography, including the effects of these two elements on popular culture.