The Keeper of the Brand: Joe Barsin

Leslie Dolsak Blog

The past six years of Annapolis Film Festival artwork by Illustrator Joe Barsin has been reminiscent of Russian artist’s Aleksander Rodchenko’s circa 1920s. “I love constructivism and a lot of my colors come from that same school of thought.” From as early as he can remember, Joe has always been illustrating. When he was three years old, attending Montessori school in Italy, he remembers painting the Italian and French flags. “I remember loving symbolism.” His love for icons carried him through school, graduating Cum Laude with a BFA from Kent State University, emphasis in graphic design and illustration. 


As Art Director of the Annapolis Film Festival, Joe Barsin has a lot of influence. “I’m the keeper of the brand.” Barsin created the consistent identity for the Annapolis Film Festival through its logo and develops AFF’s annual image which always uses a scheme of warm orange, rich red, deep blue, gray, black and a pop of purple. “The color palettes are the same, the fonts are the same, everything has the same overall feel.” Barsin has been onboard with the Annapolis Film Festival since the beginning. His colleague at the time Sonia Feldman introduced him to Patti White and Lee Anderson, who were doing the Shorts Crawl at the time in Annapolis.

“My goal has always been to focus on the city. This year I wanted to focus on its diversity,” said Barsin. And he accomplished just that for the 2018 Annapolis Film Festival imagery with a little brainstorming from Festival Directors White and Anderson. “They give me ideas, thoughts and feelings, which is awesome, I rarely get that from clients.”

Barsin’s artistic process started with the new Annapolis Film Festival theme: Voices Strong. Minds Open. Barsin thought of no better a way to represent a Strong Voice than through a director’s chair. “The light rays will form the legs of the chair and those light rays represent diversity. Open minds are the rays. Open minds allow diversity,” Barsin explained.

It’s a perfect theme for what the Annapolis Film Festival really represents and Barsin explains it so well: “Netflix, the Internet, Facebook are all places that AI [Artificial Intelligence] computers are spoon feeding you what you like. The film festival makes you experience movies that are rough, raw and emotional, some are happy, but it’s mentally exhausting and powerful.”

Joe enjoys all aspects of the film festival. “I learn a lot from the Q&A and panels. The shorts are excellent. The parties are really fun. You get to meet a lot of professionals and celebrities; it’s a cultural bomb. For me, being a local artist, I’m on ‘Creative Cloud-9.”

One of his fondest memories was when AFF ran a special series on Vietnam. “There were a lot of local leaders and Vietnam Vets attending. I was talking to people older and younger than me. That’s why I love the festival it’s a connection to the community,” Barsin said.

So next time you see Joe Barsin, on the cobblestone streets of Annapolis, during an industry Panel discussion or mixer at the Film Festival, just remember to tell him which year’s image you liked the best. “A lot of people remember the Captain Crab year – 2016 – or U.S.S. Talk Movie to Me – 2015…” You see, everyone has a favorite. 


More About Joe:

Joe’s full-time job is running his graphic design company, as well as Citizen Pride, with his business partner and wife, Eva. Citizen Pride creates everything Maryland from bumper stickers to prints to flags to the Bay Plate, which many people know and love. But beyond being Maryland-centric, their products continue to expand to include designs for other states. They are featured in more than 120 shops and galleries and ship from sales on their website throughout the USA. Currently, Joe’s also doing work for the city of Anaheim, CA, which recently commissioned him to create original illustrations to promote their city.