Film with a Design Twist

The Art. Design, & Architecture film series runs at the Princess Cinemas all month. • PHOTO COURTESY OF JON JOHNSON
The Art. Design, & Architecture film series runs at the Princess Cinemas all month. • PHOTO COURTESY OF JON JOHNSON

Anya Lomako

As a consumer of art, you know the familiar thrill of escaping reality with visits to art galleries and festivals like Nuit Blanche, an instantaneous departure from the dull colours of mundane everyday dwelling.

As an artist, you come into any given art event with the intimate knowledge that it came to fruition after periods of unexplained writer’s block, running on no sleep and running out of money.

With its upcoming film series, Art, Design and Architecture, Princess Cinemas gives the public a front-row seat to the inner workings of creative industries around the world, and an opportunity for the worlds of art connoisseurs and art creators to collide.

“Even when people design in an office together, their main focus is usually still on their screen. Events that get people out and in the same space are always great, and then if the films help to fuel the creativity of the people who come out and see them, hopefully that helps them make awesome new things, and fuels the creativity community as a whole,” said local screenprinter and graphic designer Jon Johnson.

Johnston, who had a formative role in piloting design events at the theatre since starting his work there in 2005, urged the series to take off and as a result, an old Architecture and Film series was revived, and expanded its focus on artistry to appeal to the region’s growing interest in the craftsmanship of design. The film series will run every Monday from September 29th to October 27th, 2014 at both cinema locations.

Johnson, who runs Bearface design, says that like other artists, he usually works at home in the company of his dog; this is why events of this nature are a great opportunity for creative types to get outside of their comfort zone and meet others passionate about design. Johnson’s recent work has received national praise in recent years, and was featured on Collective Brewing Arts label this summer.

For Princess Cinemas owner John Tutt, helping fuel creativity and catering to niches isn’t for a tax receipt and a pat on the back, but a calling.

“It’s a natural fit for us. We don’t look at it as support, this is simply what we do in Waterloo Region day in and day out,” he said.

Princess Cinemas commitment to serving the community creative landscape is part of the reason why each film in this year’s lineup is backed by a professional or organization that is part of the region’s artistic collective of a similar ilk.

For instance, From Nothing, Something draws a commonality between seemingly unrelated artists in the creative field, such as novelists, comedians, choreographers, composers and musicians. This documentary is co-presented by Overlap Associates, the new kid on the block. The company helps coach organizations and individuals through the design process working at the intersection of craft, design thinking and digital.

Also playing is Stripped, winner of 2014 San Diego Comic Con. Lovingly called ‘an open love letter to comic strips’, it features over 70 interviews with past, present and future cartoonists like Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes), Matt Inman (The Oatmeal), Jeph Jacques (Questionable Content) and Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant). It is co-presented by Carry On Comics, a fandom staple located right in the heart of uptown Waterloo.

Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island, is an ode to the deconstructionist, stoic houses scattered across the region as a result of the post-WWII movement, featuring the work of Albert Frey, Wallace Harrison Frank Lloyd Wright among others. It is co-presented by Whiting Design, an area expert in sustainable solutions in modern design.

Whiting Design has played a chief role in supporting the initiatives of Princess Cinemas throughout the years. Company owner, Graham Whiting, believes events like this are essential for increasing demand and encouraging local artists to tap into their talent.

“It not only strengthens connections between designers and design fans, but it brings in outside influences that supplement our own creative culture. By listening to stories from other communities, we increase the dialogue around and evolution of creativity in our own,” he says.

It is without a doubt that design has gained momentum in the region, compared to just five years ago. Whiting cites the contributions of Perimeter Institute, the Knowledge Integration program at the University of Waterloo, Fluxible, CAKF+A, Open Ears and Building Waterloo Region, to today’s robust arts landscape in the region.

“These are all part of local design culture, and are just the tip of the iceberg,” he says.

Yet Tutt believes that bringing design to the forefront is just part of the solution, and comprehensive aid from other institutions is needed. When asked what the creative community needs to continue growing, he responds: “Young minds taking risks. Support form others — banks, venture capitalists, government incentives, university support — to creative a fertile area for these minds to take risks. And cheap residential rent!”

While attending the Art, Design and Architecture series won’t solve these problems simultaneously, attending local events is the first step to fostering creative culture. After all, you can’t be what you can’t see.

For a complete listing of showtimes and their respective supporters, visit.