Updated: Jul 26, 2021
By Celine Dirkes
A green flytrap, an orange pumpkin, and a blue rose: If you’ve been keeping up with ReThink’s promotions this season, you’ve seen them. But where did these plants come from? From the mind of Max Friedman, ReThink Theatrical’s featured artist for the 2019 season. Working as head of design at the ad agency Fig, he spends his day-to-day working with brands like Puma and Vimeo. He provides his clients with design, scripting, and visual branding to help them decide how their brands look and feel, and what that says about their company to the rest of the world. When I asked him about his work, Max said, “We just try to make the coolest stuff we can.”
Dream job? Absolutely. I interviewed this award-winning designer, art-director, and published illustrator to learn more about his process, and how he got involved with the company.
Turns out, Max has been family friends with Production Manager Joe Ciampi for a long time, and once shot a music video for Joe’s band (a direct quote from our interview: “Shoutout to Joe Ciampi!”). When Joe approached him about designing the promotional materials for ReThink Theatrical’s 2019 season, he started to think of a unifying theme for all three productions: Little Shop of Horrors, Romeo & Juliet, and Sleepy Hollow.
He said there’s “something fun about pulling a central element from each of them that was able to radiate outward in some way,” and created the texture for each image from this central theme. He started with the question “When I see the title, what is the first thing that comes to mind?” This brought him to the pumpkin for Sleepy Hollow, or the plant from Little Shop of Horrors. The rose for Romeo & Juliet gained additional symbolism: a rose for love, and thorns for the anguish it brings. And why blue? So it could feel different from dozens of red roses.
He says he usually does a lot of research, but these three plays were interesting projects because there are people who have never seen them, but know the story. “…You want to put your own spin on things that have been illustrated or designed thousands and thousands of times over.”
Though a play like Romeo & Juliet has been produced time after time, ReThink Theatrical always strives to provide a unique angle to each production: one that brings together our community here and now. Max’s art has helped us do that this season with a flytrap, a pumpkin, and a rose.