Exciting announcement! Today at The Dissolve, a new site for all film lovers, you can find the first entry in my new monthly column there called Frames. Each month I'll be presenting a new original movie poster design to readers of The Dissolve, and writing a bit about the film I chose and my various points of reference and inspiration from the world of movie poster design and graphic design in general. 

Head to The Dissolve now to see the full poster design and read some thoughts behind the process, and visit my shop to purchase a new silkscreen print for Before Midnight, completing the trilogy that began with my Before Sunrise and Before Sunset screenprints (the new print is available individually for folks who already have the first two prints, or in a set of three with the other two). I'm excited to be part of the Dissolve team and looking forward to exploring wherever this series takes me. Come along...


In 2010, for the 25th anniversary of Claude Lanzmann's landmark holocaust documentary SHOAH, I was asked by IFCFilms to design a new commemorative theatrical poster. The design reappropriated an image from the film of train conductor Henrik Gawkowski, the same image that has long been associated with the film since its original release:

For The Criterion Collection's DVD/Blu-ray release, I went back to some original concepts for the anniversary poster in an effort to help Criterion find a new way to present SHOAH visually. In the poster design process (which I about briefly here) I experimented with many different images from the film, all of which I found beautiful, but only some of which captured the idea of human memory and narrative that guides SHOAH. I had grown really attached to one image in particular, a perspective looking back on a pair of train tracks disappearing into a foggy woods, as well as another image of Chelmno survivor Simon Srebnik in a field. These would both end up being used in my SHOAH package for Criterion, the train track image transforming into a new cover design.

But through the process, Criterion asked to see some other ideas, just to have more options to consider. Art director Sarah Habibi asked me to consider the idea of circular thought-- the way in which Shoah and its human subjects approach their personal histories through a circular, reflective process-- and to try some cover concepts that perhaps didn't even use imagery from the film, but represented the film iconically… A tall order for a film as psychologically and emotionally expansive as SHOAH. Out of this suggestion came a large group of comps (a sample of which are shown below) made by photographing a circular pattern traced into the Earth by a human hand. It was a very abstract concept-- ultimately too abstract-- but it was interesting attempt at representing SHOAH using original imagery.

It was decided that the image of Gawkowski would be presented on interior cover, and the outside of the slipcase would feature the train track image. I mocked up this cover using the same saturated color fields I had applied to my poster concepts, and then more natural versions upon Criterion's request. We also started looking at cleaner, taller typefaces. Both of these changes were part of Criterion's overall effort to remove any aesthetic interference from the imagery-- to present the entire package as naturally as possible out of respect for the film and its beauty.

I applied this philosophy to the rest of the package, its menus and booklet. I'm really proud to have worked on this presentation of SHOAH for Criterion. The DVD and Blu-ray set is available now.



Artist copies of my HOUSE and RAY HARRYHAUSEN screenprints for the Belcourt are now available in my shop here!


Born in Havana, Antonio Pérez Ñiko began his career drawing for an ad agency in Cuba as one of many artists executing images of propaganda for the state. Upon the Revolution, he devoted himself passionately to his own artwork, creating what eventually amounted to hundreds of posters. Many of these were film posters commissioned by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (founded in 1959); Ñiko also designed countless political and cultural posters, and his works are among the most definitive of the Cuban Revolutionary Style. 

Living in Mexico since 1988, he has continuously designed posters and is currently a professor of design. Among the revolutionary poster artists still with us today, he couldn't be more beloved; Ñiko has won countless awards and has had many exhibitions, programs and books published of his monumental work, including a new exhibition that appears to be currently active at the University Gallery Ramón Alva de la Canal in Xalapa, Veracruz (entitled 1/4 Century in Mexico, the exhibition features Ñiko's work from the past 25 years as well as a special series of 25 new posters based on Pablo Neruda's The Book of Questions). 

Most wonderfully of all, Ñiko prolifically updates his own personal blog, a treasure trove of personal writings on art and design, lectures, interviews, favorite records and books, cat pictures, links to his students' work as well as beautiful catalogs of Niko's work viewable in PDF form. In a recent interview, Niko described his blog "a demonstration of all that sustains me in this world."

When I began designing movie posters in pursuit of a potential career, it was a book of Cuban posters that inspired me more than anything else. Thanks to Ñiko's blog and website, as well as Carol Goodman and Claudio Sotolongo's indespensible book Soy Cuba, I've been able to identify the man behind so many of my favorite designs. I present just a small sampling of them below, all shared respectfully from Ñiko's site (where you can view so many more). I know that I am only one of many, many young artists for whom Ñiko's work-- simply, colorful, humorous and constructed around iconic ideas-- remains a huge inspiration.





I was asked by Cinedigm to design the theatrical poster for OUR NIXON, a fascinating new documentary comprised of 8mm footage filmed by Nixon's aides during his presidency. Here's the poster, the design for which references the "Nixon Now" campaign from Nixon's re-election (we are making buttons too!). See the trailer premiere at TIME and look for Our Nixon's CNN premiere on Aug 1.



And now for something different.... The Dynamation of Ray Harryhausen! 18x24 3-color screenprint, edition of 30, available tomorrow at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville. If those sell out there, I'll put APs for sale through my site and update this post. This was a fun one... Harryhausen's fantastic stop-motion creatures played a big role in my falling in love with movies as a child, as they did for so many. He passed away just this year, and the Belcourt has curated this series of seven films to honor the man. Pick up the print starting tomorrow at the double-feature of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts!



Here's the new theatrical poster I designed for Michelangelo Antonioni's L'AVVENTURA for Janus Films. Title treatment by Shelby Rodeffer. Visit Janus Films to learn more and see playdates for the new 35mm print, opening at Film Forum on July 12th and at Nashville's Belcourt Theatre on August 2nd. 



Up now in the Criterion Current is a new piece I put together on the fantastic poster designs produced by Dot Graphics for Janus Films in the 60's and 70's. Here's their logo from the time, and my personal favorite poster of theirs for Donkey Skin, designed by Lee Reedy. Read and see more at the Current. (Special thanks to Adrian Curry, who first featured this Donkey Skin poster in his Movie Poster of the Week column and got me started on this whole thing...)


A selection of prints and theatrical posters I've designed over the past two years will be on display at the Belcourt Theatre gallery this month. Pieces will be for sale as framed single copies. Having a little reception this Sunday from 5-6:30pm. If you're in town, stop by, or check out the show through the rest of the month. 


Children's Bookshelf: The Moon Seems to Change

The Moon Seems to Change, a "Let's Read and Find Out" Book published by the Thomas y. Crowell Company in 1960, is a keystone of my imagination. My parents had it in our house when I was little, and as a teenager I cut pages from it to create collage art for my band's first cassette tape (the collector in me is flabbergasted, but would where would I be without that tape?). Not to be confused with later, paperback editions with new artwork (interestingly, the later edition of this title was illustrated by Ed Emberley), the Let's Read and Find Out books were sturdy hardbacks for kids, featuring educational topics illustrated beautifully by different illustrators working at the time. 

Helen Borten illustrated this title, along with at least three others (What Makes Day and Night, The Sun: Our Nearest Star, and Rain and Hail), using what seems to be a mixture of woodcuts, collage, and maybe some other printing techniques. She wrote and illustrated her own award-winning book Do You See What I See? and three others following that, along with between 20-30 books illustrated for other authors. Helen handled not just the illustration for this title, but the colors, type and layout of the entire book, which all retain an iconic graphic power definitive of their time and even more stunning today. Helen is still out there-- I know this from reading a great interview with her at Fishink-- so if you're reading Helen, thank you for literally a young lifetime of inspiration.