As anyone involved in any creative pursuit knows, inspiration is a necessity for valuable output. Thankfully, you don’t even have to leave the house to get inspired—although we’d recommend that, too. These days inspiration can be found with the simple click of a mouse. For anyone in search of visual stimulation or with a love for aesthetics and artistic expression, this batch of nine stellar documentaries promises to educate and inspire. Read on for our favorite creative screenings.
Art & Copy (2009) ($4 and up)
It can be all-too easy to ignore or overlook the artistry that goes into advertising. Art & Copy explores the highly involved process that goes into the ideation and creation of designing the most iconic and timeless advertising campaigns. It’s a thought-provoking look at the fascinating intersections of commerce, human psychology, and art.
Beautiful Losers (2008) ($3 and up)
Filmmakers Aaron Rose and Joshua Leonard delve into the lives and careers of a collective of do-it-yourself artists and creators who started something of an art revolution in the ‘90s. These surfers, skateboarders, and punks dismantled the traditionally austere art world, affecting great change in the landscape, and injecting a spirit of independence and creative freedom.
Drew: The Man Behind the Poster (2013) ($4 and up)
Drew Struzan is the little-known artist behind some of the most iconic movie posters ever (think: Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, and Star Wars). This documentary profiles Struzan through the lens of some of the artist’s very famous friends the likes of Harrison Ford and George Lucas, while exploring the lost art of hand-drawn artistry.
Eames: The Architect and the Painter (2011) ($19)
Eames casts light on the husband-and-wife team of Charles and Ray Eames, one of the most important and influential design forces of midcentury America. Capturing the personal and professional lives of the pair, the film casts light on not only their everlasting impact, but also on the intricacies and evolutions of creative exploration and achievement.
Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005) ($3 and up)
Responsible for some of the most critically acclaimed and universally popular and recognizable structures in the world, Frank Gehry’s architecture is dynamic, unpredictable, and even radical. Directed by Gehry’s personal friend, Sydney Pollack, the documentary casually explores the shy artist’s innovative and inspiring process, while also capturing his unique personality.
Helvetica (2007) ($3 and up)
If you’re a type and graphic design aficionado, you’ll already be familiar with Helvetica, which is the most ubiquitous typeface in graphic history. This doc from filmmaker Gary Hustwit explores the concept of universal appeal and our global visual culture.
Pina (2011) ($4 and up)
From filmmaker Win Wenders comes this exquisite profile (originally screened in 3D) of the work of contemporary dance choreographer Pina Bausch. Through stunningly captured sequences, the film ruminates on creative expression and performance.
Milton Glaser: To Inform & Delight (2008) ($4 and up)
This documentary profiles the designer behind some of the most iconic graphics of all time (including the iconic I ♥ N.Y. logo, created in the 1970s while New York City was wrought with crime and hardship), exploring his life and body of work, and the apparent power visuals have in changing the conversation and enacting real change.
Objectified (2009) ($15)
Another documentary from filmmaker Gary Hustwit, Objectified explores our relationship, as consumers, to material objects and the people who create them. Come for industrial design eye candy and insight into how these designs and designers have shaped, and will continue to shape, our modern lifestyles.
Opener image of the Eames House via the Eames Foundation.
Would you add any other documentaries to this list? Tell us in the comments.