Josie Portillo Breaks Into Hollywood with Jameson
Films are immersive experiences, creating fully packaged worlds where the audience can escape. Depending on the story, film is frequently used to examine our world even if it may feel like we’re visiting a new one. As we see ourselves from new angles, the lessons from the stories can bleed into our experience of our own lives and help us reach a new understanding.
In The Library Book, presented by Jameson First Shot 2015, a quiet conversation in a doomed library reveals the nature of reality and hope for the future. It was produced by Kevin Spacey's Trigger Street Productions as a result of winning Jameson’s First Shot competition. Thousands of filmmakers from around the world competed to produce their own short film starring Adrien Brody, and only three made it into production. As the sole winner from an American Filmmaker, Jameson needed an American illustrator to create the poster for the movie. So they picked Josie Portillo for her playful and accessible style.
The Library Book is in many ways about hope and where we find that hope. Either in other people, like Adrian Brody’s character finds in the Librarian, or in places like libraries that are filled with infinite stories of humanity. Josie was the perfect choice to illustrate the poster for this movie as she has her own history with institutions like libraries and bookstores. “They were a big part of my childhood,” she explains. “They were a big part of what inspired me to become an illustrator, too. I used to check out a lot of children’s books and my parents made sure I went to libraries a lot.”
At the premiere of these three short films in Paramount Studios, Hollywood, Josie was on hand to live illustrate their Step and Repeat. (For those who don’t know, “Step and Repeat” is the name for the backdrop you see on red carpets, they usually have logos of sponsors and the title of the film.) It’s rare that an artist gets to live draw at an event like a premiere, and it was Josie’s first time. She found that Jameson really supported her and her work. “It was a lot of fun,” she explains. “For the Step and Repeat I got to illustrate little bits of each movie and tying them together that way.” After all, each short film is a human tale, and Josie was there to find their central thread.
On the Go with Josie Portillo and Polyester Studio
The way you start your day sets the tone for everything else. That’s why it’s important to get solid rest, a healthy breakfast, and try not to spill your coffee all over yourself. The morning can be a trial, rushing around, getting everything in order before a long day at work, so anything that can help and streamline the process is a bonus. Illustrator Josie Portillo and animation studio Polyester Studio teamed up to bring Coffee-mate’s newest product, Coffee-mate 2GO, to life in their own imaginings of how their portable creamer can help their customers. By making access to coffee flavors a no brainer, customers don’t have to juggle with milk jugs and pumps of sweetener. Coffee-mate 2GO makes the whole process much simpler.
To start, Josie Portillo began by illustrating scenes and advertisements that could ultimately become the animations. The first thing you may notice about what she does is the unique style she brings to the table. For her, the style is all inspired by the art she loves. “I’m very interested in mid-century style,” she says. “And one of the reasons that the art director reached out to me was because they were looking to emulate a retro feel. When I first got into illustration I was looking at a lot of mid-century cartoon illustration styles, and a lot of that stuck with me.” You can recognize that style in her characters and staging of the scenes where she exaggerates certain elements, making them slightly cartoonish while remaining relatable. In fact, for one of the ads, Josie drew directly from her own life. “They wanted me to show a messy desk and I basically just illustrated my own desk here at my office,” she says with a laugh. She admitted that her desk is a little more chaotic than what made it into the final ad because, after all, it was an advertisement.
For Polyester, it was all about editing. When they first received the scripts, Polyester knew that they could apply their expertise to the project immediately. Bob Zagorskis explains: “Our initial scripts were really long, so we worked with them to distill it down to each scene. To get the idea across about what happening in the spot. "We had to really figure out what the key idea was in the spot and then just hit it hard.” In order to condense the stories into 15-second spots it was crucial that they get clear on what the heart of each piece was. “For us it was just really paring back everything that was extraneous and getting down to what mattered.” By working with Coffee-mate, they were able to clarify and concentrate each story making them as clear and focused as possible. With Josie, they made sure that the images told as rich a story as possible while still keeping them within the strict time limits.
In all, it was a seamless collaboration, with Josie adding, “It was really great working with Polyester.” They leaned on one another to tell the stories Coffee-mate needed, while keeping everything clear and giving the audience a laugh. Cheers.