Jason Morgan’s jaw-dropping book captures LA’s gripping billboards
If the title of the book doesn’t immediately make people think, the inventive concept and compelling photography will.
In “Made You Look: 500 Eye-Catching Ideas from the Sprawling Skies of Los Angeles,” writer/photographer Jason Morgan treats readers to delicious eye candy in the form of hundreds of billboards he shot in the City of Angels between 2008 and 2021. What fascinating graphic designs, marketing ploys and gimmicks are these billboards. From spoofs and season-themed promos to star-studded designs and imagery that “shock and amaze,” Morgan delivers a memorable tome worthy of our attention.
“I used to run a blog called ‘The Daily Billboard,’ which grew out of seeing all these amazing billboards every day,” says Morgan, who lived on the Sunset Strip where he couldn’t get away. prevent you from noticing each creation. something that happened daily. “It was just a constant flow of new ideas.”
Morgan wrote the blog for about 10 years before he and his partner moved to Palm Springs. When the COVID pandemic hit, he found traveling back and forth to Los Angeles much more difficult and used the downtime to conceptualize a book based on the blog and his photographs.
“I was captivated by so many things in Billboard,” he says. “It was interesting for me to see how much money and time went into creating some of them. Other times I noticed some absurd recycling of ideas that entertainment companies were doing on a annual or even semi-annual basis. I found everything so very catchy.”
Without a doubt. In one corner, readers will find Morgan’s shots of films like “This Is the End” and television’s “Home Economics.” In another, there’s “Lucifer” and “Maleficent.” Meanwhile, the films “Mad Max: Fury Road” and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” depict similar images of individuals madly diving through the air in what is bound to be a calamity.
The design of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” billboard goes against type, its signs rising beyond the standard rectangular perimeter. “Assassin’s Creed”, “The Mummy”, and “Deadpool 2” follow a similar example. Other standout designs lean toward real inventiveness — Netflix’s “F is for Family” evoking that iconic “Gone with the Wind” image of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh — and NBC’s “Superstore” borrowing imagery from “Reservoir Dogs”.
“I appreciated the billboards that really went the extra mile,” Morgan said. “The ones that were shiny or sparkly or had extensions sticking out.”
Morgan’s billboard time capsule goes beyond television and film images. Fashion, food, technology, travel and more are in the mix. Both entertaining and educational, the overall creation aims to inspire.
With good reason, the Coachella Valley is no shortage of inspiration for the author’s creativity. Morgan and her partner, Charlie, often frequented Palm Springs, enjoying friends in the area as well as their vacation home. They loved the area so much that they ended up settling there several years ago.
“Charlie and I are just starting to explore the area more – from the many restaurants to the various hiking trails,” he says. “We can’t wait to experience all the local things – the museums and all the art here.
“Most of the time I enjoy peace and quiet,” he says. “We moved from West Hollywood, which is surrounded by bars and restaurants, and people come home at two in the morning, screaming and screaming. It’s relatively quiet here and we like that. It’s good for my creativity.”
Morgan has long drawn inspiration from photography and graphic design. When the idea for the blog was born, he suddenly found himself driving around Los Angeles, stopping the car every time he was inspired by a huge billboard.
“I always thought taking photos would be like capturing a piece of history,” he shares. “And I think my book is quite nostalgic – at least for me. When I look at the images, I remember those times when I was so moved by an image that it made me take a picture. heads and go, ‘Is this really what I thought it was?’ So I really enjoyed capturing those moments in time.”
When asked to explain what makes a billboard design exceptional, Morgan takes a moment to reflect.
“Certainly when the billboard has very creative key art that is simple, but immediately conveys the subject of the TV show or movie,” he says. “A lot of times when I was shooting these things, I tried to capture the whole word campaign of the movie. I often thought it was good when the billboards featured a movie and captured it in one word. . [with the description].
“It comes down to this idea of ’keep it simple, silly,'” he adds. “Sometimes the simplest ideas work the best.”
Greg Archer writes about agents of change, chance, and the entertainment industry. Her work has appeared in USA Today Network, Palm Springs Life, Huffington Post, The Advocate and other outlets. Her memoir, “Grace Revealed”, chronicles her Polish family’s odyssey during World War II. gregarcher.com.