Especially inspired by the vivid, atmospheric scenes found in Wong Kar-wai’s films (I had just seen Happy Together for the first time), I wanted to create a scene that felt rich and intriguing. Apartment balconies above the bar, back rooms you can only catch a glimpse of, a cigarette left at the bartop — I wanted the scene to feel as if it was full of stories despite being empty.
This project was also fully an excuse to experiment with a neon-soaked 1980’s dive bar aesthetic. This meant touching on 80’s graffiti styles (specifically referencing graffiti styles from NYC), beer and liquor labels, and various signage for the bar.
Inspired by the vintage neon signs of Tokyo and Times Square, I wanted to explore a sci-fi inspired custom type treatment that would work well as a neon sign, and as a vertical box sign.
Various other signage from within the bar. Here I intentionally created a series of signs that lacked cohesion.
Using vintage dive bar signage as reference, I really liked how unrefined this signage was, without extreme attention given to design details — stretched fonts, poor kerning, drop-shadows or borders added to type. I wanted to bring some of this charm into my scene as well.
I wanted the graffiti in the scene to feel era-accurate — not the highly refined and polished graffiti we see today from artists who have access to premium paint and a near-unlimited selection of caps.
I wanted this graffiti to look like it had been done with stock caps on cheap paint stolen from Walmart — faded colours, blown-out lines, lots of drips.
Keeping with the space theme used for the name of the bar, I also created several liquor and beer labels for the bottles present in the scene.
I took inspiration from the blocky, basic shapes, bold typography, and use of foil accents and badges on 80’s-era labels.