Careers: Artist/multimedia designer Sai Sharma
Issue: March/April 2019

Careers: Artist/multimedia designer Sai Sharma

Sai Sharma is an LA-based art director and filmmaker who also works in India. He’s been working as an art director for the past five years, primarily focusing on TV commercials and music videos. He also owns a design company that assists content creators with the creation of posters and various advertising material. Here’s he talks about his work and inspiration.

A movie poster gives the audience a teaser to the whole film. In most cases it is the only source that delivers an initial impression of the film, hence posters are powerful tools that should not be overlooked if you are promoting your own film, series, short, music video or small theater production. Most content creators do not have millions of dollars — like Marvel or DC — to create attractive artwork for their projects, but this does not mean it’s impossible to create an outstanding movie poster.

This is where an art designer like me comes in. I assist filmmakers/content creators with creating posters and various advertising material for their projects. I have collaborated with professionals from the film, TV music and YouTube circles for digital content creation like poster design, channel design, and logo design to give their brand a unique identity. Externally, I have been working as an art director for five years now; mostly focusing on TV commercials and music videos.

My fascination with filmmaking dates back to childhood. Films and animated TV shows have always played an integral part in my life. I was fond of drawing cartoon characters and soon started sketching life-like portraits. It was then able to expand into the digital realm by making digi paintings and illustrations in Abobe’s Creative Suite. 

At age 16 I got an opportunity to work as a PA on a film set, though I wasn’t particularly fond of the process, initially at least. I learned how complex it actually is to make professional movies or TV, and developed a great amount of respect for all of the individuals who work on sets for a living. Though I eventually got over the discomfort, I realized that the back-end process is something I was better at, and hence I shifted my focus to art design, video editing, color grading and motion graphics, becoming more familiar with the post process.

I was doing small graphic design and video editing gigs before I got on sets, so it did not take me long to realize that I had a great fascination for posters, especially movie posters. In some instances, they intrigued me more than the movie itself. Since then I have created more than over a thousand poster designs and have also served as an art director on various projects. I have a team of four working with me on the post production process within a proper studio setup.

For art design I use only Photoshop and Illustrator, as I started my journey with these programs and they have drastically improved in the years that followed. For editing and color grading, I use a combination of Avid, Premiere and Resolve for larger projects. For smaller ones, I use only Avid and Magic Bullet. Avid was a real pain to adapt to initially, and it took me months to get around it, but I prefer it over every editing system now that I have a fine grasp of it. 

I also design front-end user interfaces (UIs) for the Web, smartphone apps and slimier applications, I only use Illustrator for this purpose in order to get high-quality vectors and then further edit them in Xd and Sketch for the coding part. 

It has been two years since I launched my company Sai Unicorn Multimedia (SUM), though I feel we are just beginning to scratch the surface. I worked on a project called Polybius, which stars Sir Tom Atkins from Fog and Halloween - films that I adored since childhood. I also got to work with a professionals in designing the artwork for the 4K release of The Dark Knight Trilogy for its Asian release, which was very exciting. I am currently working on some projects that will streaming on Prime and Netflix next year, so this is defiantly a turning point of my carrier, though I still have a very long way to go before I can call myself successful.  

I strongly believe that independent filmmakers and content creators alike deserve better in terms of design. I have seen posters for films which have been screened at Cannes and Sundance, and for most of the brilliant films I saw, the poster design is not anywhere as good as the film itself. I hate to critique someone's art, but I do feel sometimes that I could have done a better job. I sense that a pre-conceived notion most filmmakers have is that poster design is expensive, which is not true. Hence, I encourage content creators to have a core focus on the art design aspect of their film/video projects, as it plays an vital role in engaging the audience.  

You can see more of Sai Sharma’s work online:
Instagram: @wearesum