Saskia Marka's captivating titles for The Queen's Gambit offer the perfect ending

It was the Netflix show we all loved to binge-watch and one that inspired us to dig out our forgotten chessboards. But for the graphic designers amongst us, we also enjoyed The Queen's Gambit for its wonderfully dark title sequence.

Created by Berlin-based title designer Saskia Marka, and based on processed animations by Dave Whyte and music by Carlos Rafael Rivera, they're the perfect end titles for each episode of the hit series, directed by Scott Frank.

"I wanted to build a bridge between logic and emotion," Saskia tells Creative Boom. "It's an abstract visualisation of playing and enjoying chess. And a celebration of overcoming yourself. The sequence is supposed to live from its controlled cosmos of processed geometric gif animations, transformed into an elevated, intensified emotional experience.

"I was very lucky to have so much freedom from the creators to come up with an idea and a great music track to cling the work to. Of course, it is visually chess-related, but I wanted it to be as abstract as possible, so the audience can find their own interpretation."

Were there any challenges that she encountered? "Since the animations in the background are mostly high in contrast, it was hard to read the credits in the beginning. So at some point, I put them behind bars and switched the colours with every chart, which gave the sequence an even more graphic look"

"Another challenge was definitely the first lockdown this year," she adds. "It was the 'hot phase' of both Deutschland 89 and The Queens Gambit projects, my two little kids were running around the house and my husband had two films in post-production. It was intense."

Saskia has also been recognised for her work on Babylon Berlin, a German neo-noir TV series created, written and directed by Tom Tykwer, Achim von Borries and Hendrik Handloegten, and based on novels by German author Volker Kutscher (Saskia's title sequence has been nominated for the Beazley Designs of the Year award at London's Design Museum). She's also received a certificate of typographic excellence from the Type Directors Club for her end title sequence of the 2010 German movie, This Is Love.

Other notable projects include her title sequence for Deutschland89, produced by UFA Fiction and Die Verlorene Tochter, a 2019 TV series directed by Kai Wessel.


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