Adrian Curry’s best movie posters of 2015 —

January 7, 2016

— or the best posters that Adrian Curry could find in 2015: no great posters for Hollywood films in his top ten, but a list of his runners-up extends to 31 rather than the usual 20, so the general standard is high and there’s much to enjoy.

“A mature artist takes the materials closest to hand”: no artwork features in his poster for The Assassin, but Eric Buckham certainly follows Irish novelist George Moore’s maxim in this intuitive assemblage of screen-grabs and on-set photography. Eric Buckham’s work can be seen on his website.

The self-styled Midnight Marauder designed the poster for Terence Malik’s enigmatic Knight of Cups (a tarot character). The image originated in 1764 as The Tree of the Soul, and earned its keep in subsequent books of mysticism and theology. It was last used on the cover of a 1932 book, The Tree of Life. Surely Malik would draw these elements together to present the soul of the tree? Marauder produces alternative posters too. See his take on The Assassin.

I’m drawn to the retrographic poster for When I Live My life Over Again, a bittersweet father-daughter relationship of ambition and innocence. Both are singers looking for a second chance. The black background dominates the pair of them, but magenta picks out the long hair of the daughter played by Amber Heard, whose name is also highlighted in magenta. The proximity of the father (Christopher Walken) at his daughter’s shoulder suggests she is channelling what she’s learned from him — something unresolved passing to the next generation. More of Akiko Stehrenberger’s film posters can be found here.

The Eye magazine archive 2

March 4, 2015

The website for Eye magazine is well catalogued, listing most issues and critiques going back to 1999. Anne Odling-Smee’s interview with Ken Garland for Eye 66 draws attention to his first written piece, for the Penrose Annual, in which he argues that British graphic design blended Swiss discipline (Karl Gerstner) with American freedom (Saul Bass). See also Eye 85’s review by Jim Northover of Ken Garland: Structure and Substance, Adrian Shaughnessy’s biographical essay.

In Eye 72, John L Walters talks to Marian Bantjes. Her dazzling book, I Wonder, presents a collection of inimitable observations on visual culture and design. Her obsessively playful, highly-crafted word-pictures have made her name and achieved a late but loyal following around the world.

Finally, Germano Facetti Eye 29, 1998 by Richard Hollis. Facetti commissioned Romek Marber to design a new cover design for the Penguin Crime series. Its success persuaded Facetti to apply the design to the blue Pelicans and the orange covers of Penguin fiction. Producing up to 70 covers per month, Facetti brought in leading designers who worked to his brief, achieving a rare consistency of style. See also Rick Poynor’s obituary of Facetti from 2006 and browse the gallery of book covers.

The Best Movie Posters of 2014

February 22, 2015

A bit late in the year for these posters but some of these films are under fresh discussion pre-Oscars. With a nod to Soviet propanganda, La Boca’s wonderfully-realised design for the ice hockey documentary, Red Army, continues to build a strong body of graphic work which you can see here.

Elliot Cardona’s colour and image for Florian Habicht’s documentary Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets look very comfortable together with the band’s readymade logo. It’s formal but retains some fluidity. Perhaps an acquired taste, if the US poster version is anything to go by. I’ve been wrong before.

Annie Atkins makes the most of the scale model The Grand Budapest Hotel for her photographic poster of Wes Anderson’s Mitteleuropean comedy. As with the Birdman series of teaser posters, it’s refreshing to see an image of such assurance, confident in it’s allure: a stellar cast: but The Grand Budapest Hotel accommodates them all.

Adrian Curry: Best Movie Posters of 2012

March 25, 2013

An average year, according to Adrian Curry’s review of 2012, but with a few exceptions, like the the Czech-influenced, hand-drawn Elena poster by Sam Smith (who obviously had a fruitful year, creatively speaking — See How to Survive a Plague and also the link to the stunning year’s work on his blog). Go further and follow the link for Sam Smith’s inspiration, and his own favourite film posters.

The stark image of a girl carrying a bucket for The Turin Horse, has inspired three different designs for the US, Mexico and UK posters for the film. Each has its merits, but the festival poster for Ai Weiwei Never Sorry is superseded by the darker mood of the cinema poster by Kellerhouse — as with  Sam Smith, follow the link for more of this remarkable body of work.

You can compare Curry’s round-up to his previous reviews for 20112010 and 2009.

Graphic design: a sense of vocation

March 20, 2012

Annette Peppis’s blog post, How do I know if my graphic designer is any good? sketches the basic requirements for the potential client’s consideration. Top of her list is the following:

“They will have a deep seated love of all things artistic, probably going back to their childhood.”

A good example of this would be Andrew Oliver who has brought flair and clarity to many an educational textbook, travel guide or reference book. His website of work from the last twenty years has a list of influences and a page devoted to books, comics and magazines which resonate as icons for time and place.

Annette Peppis, like Andrew Oliver, has a good eye allied to a sense of curiosity. She blogs regularly on art and design, London life and the underwater world (she’s a qualified diving instructor) and her portfolio showcases a wide range of work. When you look at the work of these two designers, remember — it’s been a long time in the making.

Adrian Curry: Best Film Posters for 2011

January 13, 2012

Some great images in Adrian Curry’s review of 2011, especially the beguiling Uncle Boonmee poster by Chris Ware.

The Yves Saint-Laurent documentary L’Amour Fou is graced by Michael Boland’s hand-lettered title for the US poster and the main subject is all the stronger for the revised composition (see the original French design).

Designer Jeremy Saunders gives an insight into his inspiration for Burning Man, and the resulting teaser poster — by comparison, the revised design for the release poster betrays a loss of nerve.

You can compare Curry’s round-up to his previous reviews for 2010 and 2009. To see more artwork by the Illustrator Michael Gillette, follow the link to his celebrated Bond girl book covers for Penguin.

Film posters for Robert Bresson

January 13, 2012

Film director Robert Bresson began his career in the 1930s, aiming to separate cinema from its theatrical roots to create an effect that exists on the screen alone. He became an advocate for cinematography, and argued its case as the higher function of cinema, over ‘filmed theatre’.

Adrian Curry looks at some of the best posters for Bresson’s films that were screened in a Film Forum retrospective. The poster designers have responded to Bresson’s austere grace in a surprising variety of ways.

Highlights for me are the surreal Czech poster for Une Femme Douche (1969), and the bold Polish image (Jacek Neugebauer) for Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971). Also the German design for Pickpocket (1959) by the great Hans Hillman.

Beatrice Warde’s Crystal Goblet

November 10, 2011

Beatrice Warde (1900-1969) was a champion of good typography, exemplified by her elegant metaphor, which you can read here.

Thanks to Dave Bricker for his recent posting (and before him typographer Mike Chandler — word-of-mouth or word-of-virtual-mouth).

Hall of Femmes

November 2, 2011

Hall of Femmes is an online project that highlights significant contributions to creative culture by female designers and art directors. It’s the brainchild of Swedish design partnership Hjärta Smärta who’ve published a series of books on four unsung heroines: Lillian Bassman, Carin Goldberg, Ruth Ansel and Paula Scher.

Thanks to Maria Popova at Brain Pickings for featuring their work.

Some additional links:

Art director and photographer Lillian Bassman started work at 15 and is still going, in her nineties. You can read an article on her work here.

An AIGA article by Julie Lasky on book designer Carin Goldberg

Excerpts from an interview with magazine designer Ruth Ansel, published in 2005

Graphic designer Paula Scher, interviewed by Psychology Today.

Small realities

September 21, 2011

A fascinating exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities. The introduction makes a case for the small-scale hand-built artworks — sculpture, photography and video — the need to engage directly, in response to our frequent interactions in cyberspace in front of a monitor (sometimes no more than a monitor oneself).

The exhibition includes scale model replicas of city stores, streets and diners by Alan Wolfson (flagged by Steve Heller on his Daily Heller blog).  You can see further examples on Wolfson’s website.

Finally, some miniatures by Slinkachu, Little People in the City, an appealing combination of melancholy and humour, exploring our own relationship with the big city.

Little People in the City is available in hardback with a foreword by Will Self.