So you’re excited to submit to a brief, you already have a few ideas buzzing around in your head, and then you read the fine print in Things To Consider...

IMPORTANT: Please do not depict talent likeness in your work! We encourage you to find abstract ways to represent character and theme instead.

Fear not! We’re here to break it down for you. Creating art around a story that does "not depict any talent likeness" isn't actually as limiting as you might think

First off, what does it mean to be prohibited from displaying talent likeness?

It means you are not allowed to show the actors’ full features in your work, even if your work is an illustrated form of the character.

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L-R, work by Jason ReneauShaun Jones and Samantha Piras

Are there any loopholes?

Sort of. So long as you are not depicting distinct facial features, you may submit silhouettes of in-character talent.

However, it’s important to know that you’re not limited to only silhouettes. This is where you get to bring your creative imagination to the themes, colors, settings, and symbolic character traits of the title being illustrated.

As these submissions from our brief for Focus Features’ Emma show us, there’s still plenty of inspiration you can take to represent character and themes from a title without portraying “talent likeness.”

Let’s have a look.

This work by Josué Gonzalez incorporates a collage of playful shapes, minimalist facial renderings, and signature wardrobe pieces.

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Moritz Winkels’s work focused exclusively on wardrobe.

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Another take is this minimalist pop-art route by Benedikt Schmitz that references a signature pose from the film, like this throwback to the Emma scene below:

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Line art drawings are also very much in vogue! Check this one out by Pavan Chavan.

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You could also grab a key prop or setting and make that the centerpiece. No talent portrayed whatsoever! Daniel Kyle has focused on a retro record player and included nods to the aesthetic of the time period and mood of the film, below.

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Christine Cuddihy has gone for the inspired idea of adding some mystery to the poster by only showing a character from the waist down. No likeness there, it's just a pair of legs.

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Consider using a double-exposure effect in your illustration like this example by Robertino Masucci

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And also utilized by Kevin Tolibao

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And if you feel like getting really creative, do an abstract illustration of the story’s themes like Josué Gonzalez.

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Feeling inspired yet?

If you’d like to try out your abstract art skills on a new challenge, head over to Focus Features' 20th Anniversary Brief, our brief for The Northman or to our brief for Downton Abbey: A New Era. You can also see all the Last Night In Soho submissions here, and the submissions for the Emma brief, here. 

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