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Kevin Guilfoile's Match Preview

Ready For Their
Close Ups

When I was a kid, one of my prized possessions was a copy of The Art of Star Wars, an oversized, glossy paperback featuring much of the early concept art and production design, as well as costume and character concepts of the film.

I was fascinated by George Lucas's movie, but I was just as fascinated by this alternate universe Star Wars that could have been.

As an adult, one of my prized possessions is an oversized hardcover called Rustboy: (re)Animating a Lifelong Dream. It chronicles the journey taken by designer Brian Taylor as he attempted to make a 3-D animated film every bit as visually stunning as anything coming out of Hollywood, all by himself and with computer tools that were already obsolete when he started almost ten years ago. Some might be inspired by the farmer who built a space rocket, but whenever I feel like I'm starting to play it safe creatively, all I need to do is crack open that book.

Rustboy's fate is in the hands of others now. Taylor is probably best known these days for his stellar work at Candykiller. If Rustboy owed something to the aesthetics of Tim Burton, Candykiller is much more indebted to Tex Avery. But Taylor's wildly entrepreneurial vision--giving us not just posters, but toys and dolls and all manner of fanciful, tangible three-dimensional objects--survives in his new home.

Besides having an all-time, Hall of Fame Layer Tennis name, Davin Risk is a Toronto designer whose work is eclectic and playful, with a broad color palette and a great affection for pop art. At first glance his projects seem to contrast greatly with Taylor's, but you can see, especially in Risk's documentary-like photography, that he possesses a wonderfully cinematic eye, and when pressed for his influences, the film references just pour out: Saul Bass, Terrence Malick, Blade Runner, Cinema Paradiso.

And Risk also has a great instinct for entrepreneurship. Or entrepreneurism. Whichever one of those.

In fact, the more I look at the work of these artists side by side, the more I'm convinced it's an inspired Layer Tennis pairing. I think it's a match in which we can expect some real surprises in terms of theme, but also media, as well. Although both men are known for animation work, the Layer Tennis time limit will likely force them to be inventive in terms of presentation. Risk is the wild card for me here. His work is always very assured, but it could also take almost any form. I'm expecting a visually stimulating and cheeky bit of improvisation tomorrow.

But Layer Tennis has made a fool of me before.

As you can see in the latest Ref video, Taylor wins the flip. Game on tomorrow, Scotland vs. Canada, 1:00 PM Central Time, 18:00 GMT.

Kevin Guilfoile is the author of two novels, including, most recently, The Thousand which the New York Times called "original and gripping" and Entertainment Weekly called a "must read." He is also a former Coudal Partners creative director who sometimes goes back to the office just to rub his old desk with a chamois.

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