I love designs that utilize negative space well and one of the best at using it is the artist Banksy. With his recent auction house stunt that shredded one of his paintings, moments after being sold, it made me think of some other designs I really like that use negative space - a Daredevil cover by Paolo Rivera, a really nice color and black & white piece by Mathiole and an unused concept for Star Wars from 1976.
Sometimes even bad movies end up with some really nice posters. Here are a few I really like. First up, Army of Darkness from 1993, which got this wonderfully painted homage to Frank Frazetta. Next up is Dungeons & Dragons from 2000. A really nice poster of the cast and the titular dragon, for what was unfortunately a forgettable film. Last is Sucker Punch from 2011. The movie made no sense, whatsoever, but the poster has got everything...swords, guns, a giant robot, WWII bomber, a fire-breathing dragon and I love the way the title is integrated into the overall design. Instead of just being text over an image, it feels as though it's trying to punch (pun intended) its way out.
A new documentary is in theaters now that follows the career of Rock & Roll legend Joan Jett. The film got an awesome one-sheet to go along with it. Here are a few other music documentary one-sheets I really like as well.
This weekend is the annual Baltimore Comic Con, so let's look at cool logos for some comic-con's from around the country. I love the bold text and fun graphic elements that make each of these distinctly unique. In addition to the Baltimore Comic Con logo we have here the logos for All Star Comic Con from Northern Virginia, Awesome Con from Washington D.C., Dragon Con from Atlanta, Emerald City Comic Con from Seattle and San Diego Comic Con.
I really like these posters for the upcoming Bohemian Rhapsody movie - one for each member of the band. It's impossible to look at these and not immediately hear these songs in your head.
This week I'm showcasing a few logos that I really like. The first is from this year's Oscars. This year was the 90th presentation of the award and the designer came up with a simple and awesome way to link the text. The icon of the statue also fits nicely inside the "A". Next is the logo for a James Bond comic book series from a few years back. Designed by Rain Hughes, the text overlaps and links together in a very natural way that leads your eye through the design. Last is the logo for Escape Velocity, the annual convention organized by the Museum of Science Fiction. The designer found a creative way to link the words by using the mirror image in the shapes of the "A" and "V". The varying weight of the font from heavy to thin is a subtle play on the name of the convention, since an object appears smaller as it moves farther away.
I recently came across posters for two upcoming movies - A Simple Favor and King of Thieves. One is a psychological thriller, the other is a heist movie based on a famous real-life robbery. Both poster designs appear to be inspired by one of the greatest graphic designers of the 20th century - Saul Bass. He created some of the most well-known and easily recognizable movie posters and corporate logos over the course of his career, which stretched from the 1950's to the 1980's. Even if you've never heard his name, you know and have seen his designs, many on a regular or even daily basis.
Last week's entry focused on brand-name cereals, this week's entry is focused on store-brand cereals. Every grocery store has got their own generic versions of the well-known brand-name products...Fruit Loops, Cocoa Puffs, Captain Crunch, you name it, there's a store-brand version. These store-brands often have their own mascots, along with artwork and designs as bright and catchy as their more famous counterparts. Even though they may not be as well-known, they are just as fun to look at and appreciate the creativity of the designs.
I love cereal boxes. With their bright colors, bold designs and cool mascots, they are always fun to look at while walking down the cereal aisle of the grocery store. Cereal manufacturers also frequently partner with studios, publishers, toy companies, etc. for various promotional campaigns. In some instances the box art and mascots themselves are even adapted to the specific promotion. General Mills did this several times over the last few year's with some of their cereals. First they reimagined their mascots as Star Wars characters, then as DC Comics superheroes and most recently took on a music theme for a Shazam promotion.
Frank Cho has built a reputation over the last several decades as one of the top writers and illustrators in the world of comic books. He began with his own independently produced titles and is now sought out by many publishers to provide the cover art for their books. It is two of his most recent covers that I am spotlighting here. Over the last several months he provided variant covers for Batman #48 and Harley Quinn #47, using the same technique for both. In each instance all shading and sense of depth was accomplished via incredibly detailed and intricate line work of varying direction, weight and closeness. If you look closely, there are no areas of pure black. The Batman cover is suitably Gothic in nature, which is appropriate for the character, yet Cho adds a sense of playfulness with the inclusion of Catwoman and her feline friends. The Harley Quinn cover shows off her carefree personality. Also, where the Batman cover stays strictly black and white, this one adds a dash of color to the ponytails in her trademark multi-colored hair.
Teaser posters for movies are supposed to do just that, give the audience a minimal amount of information...an image, a recognizable name, or even just a title, along with a tagline line...just enough to catch the viewer attention and pique their curiosity. Here are a few of my favorites. First, from 1982, is this gorgeous illustration by John Alvin of the spaceship peaking through the clouds. Next is Dune, by Tom Jung, from 1984. The double moons, over the desert landscape, together with the tagline hint at the epic story being told. Last is Dances with Wolves, from 1990. It omits the name of the film, relying instead on the star power of Kevin Costner's name and an image of buffalo stampeding through the mist and fog, with a tagline that gives a glimpse into his character's journey.
The concept of the Triptych in art has been around for centuries, but it only found its way into the world of movie posters a few decades ago. Since then it has been used quite a few times. The idea is simple - one image split into three equal sections, each one telling a part of a larger story. Here are a few of my favorites. First, from 1997, the Star Wars Trilogy Special Editions, illustrated by Drew Struzan. Everything radiates out from the center, with each section focusing on specific characters with their own highlight color. Next is Cars 2 from 2011. This installment takes the characters around the world and each section highlights the different international settings from the film. After that is Tron Legacy, also from 2011. The main center image is reminiscent of the poster for the first film, with both of Jeff Bridges characters on each side. The last two are Alice in Wonderland from 2010 and Oz, the Great and Powerful from 2013. Both of these triptychs demonstrate a different way to be able to feature all of the characters, without squeezing them all onto one poster.
Last week was San Diego Comic-Con and in addition to all of the news, celebrity appearances and merchandise, the studios and publishers also flood the convention with promotional freebies to generate interest in their upcoming releases. One of the most common items given out to attendees are promotional posters of varying sizes. Here are a few that I feel stand out from the pack this year. First is a poster for the sequel to the recent Godzilla movie. Like something out of Dante's Inferno, we are given just a glimpse of several of the monsters as they clash in the smoke and haze. Epic is the first word that comes to mind when I look at this. Next is a painting by Bill Sienkiewicz for the upcoming chapter in the Halloween movie saga. The specks of red splashed in front of Michael Myers is a nice subtle touch to an otherwise simple, yet frightening image. Next is a nice promo image for the Bumblebee solo movie this Christmas. A simple color scheme with an almost hand-drawn look to it, it's impossible to not look into his eyes. Last is a promo poster for the sequel to Fantastic Beasts. Slightly more conventional, in that it uses photos of the actors, I really like the overall Art Deco design and layout.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of Apollo 11, more specifically the Eagle lunar module, landing on the Moon. In honor of this landmark event of human history, let's look at some nice one-sheets from movies that took us to the Moon. First is one of the one-sheet's from The Right Stuff, from 1984, which told the story of America's spaceflight program. The astronauts in their spacesuits, with a red, white and blue color scheme behind them is all that is needed. Next is a one-sheet for the movie First Man, coming out this summer, it's a retelling the Apollo 11 mission from the point of view of Neil Armstrong. I really like the mostly monochromatic design, with the only color coming from the engines after the rocket has disappeared into the clouds. I've also included here a few one-sheets I really like from movies where the Moon plays an internal part of the story. The first one is 2001: A Space Odyssey and while it is not the first movie to travel to the moon it is definitely the most famous. Robert McCall's illustration of a spacecraft leaving a space station high above earth, with the moon in the distance is one of the most recognizable posters. Next is a one-sheet from the 2009 movie Moon. The optical illusion created by the circles plays up the psychological drama of the story. I also like the artistic, non-traditional style of the credits at the bottom. Last is the teaser one-sheet from Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Love or hate the movie, this is a great poster. The lunar landscape inside the Decepticon logo, with the stars shooting out around it makes for a super cool image.
Classic movie theater marquees and neon signs are always fun to look at and when viewed from the right perspective can be even more impressive. In 1994, the Lion King received premiere engagements at Radio City Music Hall in New York and the El Capitan in Los Angeles. Special one-sheets were produced for both engagements and the designs prominently utilized each marquee. Byzantium and Enter the Void are both more recent releases and use a similar design approach with the title of each film a marquee sign.
In honor of the 4th of July, I'm posting this week's entry a day early. This week we are celebrating the day our country declared its independence. This year the 4th also falls on a Wednesday, which is the day new comic books are released each week. Marvel Comics is taking advantage of this timely coincidence to release the first issue of a new Captain America comic book. In the world of comic books, there is nothing more patriotic than Captain America. As is the trend nowadays, there are a multitude of variant covers, each by a different artist, for this first issue. Before we get to the new covers, let's look at the covers for the two most important comics from the past to feature Cap. First is the cover to the comic that introduced him to the world. First published in 1941, with art by Jack Kirby, Captain America Comics #1 features the iconic image of Cap punching Hitler. The second cover is from the comic that re-introduced Cap to the comics world in 1963, Avengers #4, also with art by Jack Kirby. For the new series launching this week, there are over twenty different covers and I've selected a few that I feel stand out from the pack. First is one by Adam Hughes, featuring Cap in a dynamic pose with his shield in one hand and the American flag swirling around him in the other. Next we have a very minimalist approach by David Mack featuring Cap standing at attention beside the reflecting pool in Washington D.C.. The next cover, by Frank Miller, takes the iconic image of Cap with the American flag and adds an American Bald Eagle. I also like the negative space created by the stars around the bottom half of the image. Lastly, we have the cover by Alex Ross, who takes his setting back to World War II. Here we have a larger than life Cap, leading the troops to victory.
The World's fair began in the mid-19th century as a way to showcase the latest advances in technology and give the public a glimpse into what the world may look like for future generations. The location of the fair has moved each year to a different host city and has now been held in cities all over the world. Each fair has had its own poster to promote the event and the artistic style and imagery has evolved to be representative of the era and location of the fair. My favorite time period for World's Fair posters spans the early to mid-20th century and I've selected four of my favorites to showcase here.
Not only is Coca-Cola one of the most enduring products, but its logo is just as enduring, having changed very little over the course of its 130-plus year history. Over that time it has become ingrained in American pop culture and art. The logo is such a popular design element, it can be found in kitchens and homes, as well as bars and restaurants. The first mascot Coke introduced into its advertising was the "Sprite Boy", a nickname given to him due to his elf-like features. Advertising and posters featuring him began appearing in 1941. Santa Claus has been another popular salesman for the brand over the years. In the 1930's, American painter N.C. Wyeth was commissioned to produce several paintings to be used in conjunction with Coke's 50th anniversary. Today the distinctive bottle and logo can be found in art produced in every style and medium.
The illusion of movement can be a powerful element in any design. It can add an extra level of emotion, making an image more dynamic and, in the end, it simply feels natural. We live in a world where everything moves, so when we look at a static image that includes the appearance of something moving, our brain fills in the blanks and completes the act. I've selected three one-sheets that are all outstanding examples of using the illusion of movement in their designs. The advance one-sheet for Batman Returns, from 1992, has snow blowing across Batman's logo. This also ties into the movie as the story takes place during the winter season. The one-sheet for Seabiscuit, from 2003, has the title character galloping towards us at full speed, dirt flying in the air as he races around a track. The advance one-sheet for Fast Five, from 2011, shows the two main characters whipping by at top speed, moving so fast they are almost a blur. In the background we get a glimpse of the tropical setting of the story.
This week I'm going to throw the spotlight on a particular artist - Bob Peak, who is one of the most influential artist's of the twentieth century. He began his career in print advertising, though over the course of his forty year career his work spanned all aspects of commercial illustration. He is most well-known for his movie posters and has even been referred to as "the father of the modern movie poster." Covering nearly every genre, he has created some of the most well-known posters, for many of the most well-known movies from the 1960’s to the 80’s. Included here are a variety of pieces he has done for print advertising, unused concept art, movie posters and magazine covers.