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SXSW First Look: ‘Geoff McFetridge: Drawing A Life’ Examines Artist Whose Work Surrounds Us, From Apple Watches To Nike Ads

Artist Geoff McFetridge, subject of 'Geoff McFetridge: Drawing a Life'

EXCLUSIVE: In an interview with the New York Review of Books last year, artist Geoff McFetridge noted that he grew up in the 1970s and ‘80s, a time “when culture became really good at speaking with images.” He became remarkably dexterous himself at communicating through images in design and artwork that permeates our lives.

“His art is everywhere,” notes a description of the documentary Geoff McFetridge: Drawing a Life, which is making its world premiere on Sunday at the SXSW Film Festival. “It’s on your Apple watch, splashed on the sides of buildings, exhibited in countless galleries around the world, in title designs for films by Sofia Coppola and Spike Jonze, and featured in collabs with Vans, Warby Parker, Nike, and more. One of the most prolific artists of his time, Geoff McFetridge has undoubtedly influenced the way the world looks.”

Fellow artist Dan Covert directed the film, which is playing in Documentary Feature Competition. The McFetridge canon is speckled with dots and ovoid shapes — dots that sometimes represent heads, or simply patterns on a dress. His human, or humanoid forms, appear slightly eerie yet at the same time curiously comforting, even soothing to the eye.

“The antithesis of the archetypal artist fueled by drugs, alcohol, and chaos, what sets the prodigious McFetridge apart is his quest for balance as a father, ultramarathoner, and designer,” a release about the film says. “In Geoff McFetridge: Drawing a Life… director Dan Covert offers unprecedented access into Geoff’s multicolored world, painting an intimate portrait of a man whose work is guided by intention and authenticity.”

McFetridge’s oeuvre reflects a deep grasp of semiotics, of how legibility applies to a world saturated in imagery.

“When a figure is far off in the distance, say, on a lonely desert road, even though this person appears only as a blob, just a few pixels of information, we understand that it is a person, not a tree or a fencepost,” he observed in that New York Review of Books interview. “Our ability to organize our world visually in this way, all the time, is something that preoccupies me.”

In the exclusive clip above, executive producer Spike Jonze comments about McFetridge, “He’s just done everything his own way. He hasn’t listened to anyone or anything except what feels right and true to him.”

In addition to Jonze, executive producers of the film are Andre Andreev and Amanda Adelson. Dan Covert directs and produces. The screenwriters are Covert, Erik Auli, Amy Dempsey, and Tara Rose Stromberg. Cinematographers are Claudio Rietti and Daniel Vecchione. The music is composed by YouTooCanWoo: David Perlick Molinari, Derek Muro.

Watch the exclusive clip of Geoff McFetridge: Drawing a Life above.

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