Assignment: Nutcracker campaign collateral

For our sixth and final assignment in my GRC 41 class, the instructor asked us to create an advertising campaign of print collateral for the annual performance of the Nutcracker. We were encouraged to use any software options we felt best fit the four-piece project. Fonts and images had to reflect the style and content of the performance. We were encouraged to research as many aspects of the play as possible to better understand the history.

Since I had never seen The Nutcracker, I decided to spend the first week doing research. I started by flipping through thousands of Google images to see how different troupes varied in their visual approaches. I also went to YouTube and watched more than a dozen performance excerpts and movie trailers. I then started my reading with the Wikipedia entry on The Nutcracker to get the nuts and bolts of the storyline, and I clicked through to source links and sidebars whenever any tidbits struck me as interesting.

I decided to focus the visual part of my campaign on the simple, iconic image of a nutcracker doll. I found an easily traceable nutcracker online, popped it into Adobe Illustrator CS4 as a layer, and then traced over top of it and colored it in using my newly acquired pen tool skills from the previous assignment. I chose all basic colors, so that they’d not only stand out but also tap into the childlike vibrance of the story. I spent the second week working on the drawing.

In the third week, I popped my freshly drawn nutcracker into Adobe InDesign CS4, where I designed the poster first, then the ad, then the postcard, then the ticket. I stuck with simple font combinations from the Futura family, trying to tap into the fun aspects of the play but also trying to maintain some of its venerable, sturdy history.

Also in the third week, for a last bit of inspiration as I was putting the finishing touches on my collateral, I checked out the 1993 movie version of The Nutcracker from the Fresno County library. Directed by famed Russian choreographer George Balanchine and featuring the New York City Ballet, it stars a young Macaulay Culkin in the lead role and was narrated by Kevin Kline. Watching a ballet about a heroic prince and a rat king wasn’t exactly how I would normally spend a weeknight at home, but I still liked the experience.

Plus, it was funny watching the Home Alone kid do ballet alongside the pros.

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