A few words about the "minimalist" movie poster movement that's been spreading like a virus around the web for the past 2 years. In late 2008, the young artist from the UK named Olly Moss gained rapid-fire recognition for executing a simple but brilliant postmodern design concept: taking the legendary Marber grid-- the graphic template for book covers released by Penguin in the 60's and 70's-- and fashioning "new" imaginary covers for classic video games.

Olly quickly went on to prove that he had more to offer the design world than a great eye for the perfect mash-up, posting a series of self-initiated movie posters composed in black, white and red.

Around this time I decided that Olly was my hero, combining his love for (and skill with) clean, effective, retro-inspired design with iconic subjects of popular culture. It was just what I wanted to do, but he was doing it first, and better (and younger). Olly has now become a household name in the design community, and has gone on to design apparel, editorial illustrations, and posters galore, from his recent movie poster designs for Empire Magazine (in a monthly entry titled "Ollywood") to his highly sought-after prints designed for the final season of LOST.

Having just moved from the UK to LA, rumor has it Olly is now doing movie title sequences for the movie industry with which he shares his nickname. Cheers, Olly. You've been a huge inspiration to me, and to so many other young designers. I'm a big fan, and I can't wait to see where your career takes you next.

Of course, such a widespread influence inevitably leads to widespread imitation, and while its too early to pinpoint exactly how it all happened so fast, since Olly's breakthrough success there has been an outpouring of "minimalist movie poster" designs hitting the web. Here are some of them.

M.S. Corley serendipitously redesigned the Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, and Spiderwick book series as Marber Penguins...

Meanwhile Spacesick rolled out an awesome and authentic series of "I Can Read Movies" book covers...

...and then before you knew it, minimalist movie posters started popping up everywhere. Ibraheem Youssef's Quentin Tarantino movie posters:

Mehmet Gozetlik's movie posters advertising brands and products as leads:

Brandon Schaefer's minimalist Blu-ray covers:

Matt Needle's minimalist Hitchcock posters:

Nick Tassone's minimalist Stephen King posters:

A massive series of TV show posters by Albert Exergian:

Followed by Exergian's Tim Burton movie posters:

Ty Mattson's minimalist Lost posters, acquired officially by ABC:
"Film the Blanks" movie poster guessing games:

Minimalist movie posters by Jamie Bolton:

Very minimal movie posters by Gary Clarke (Graphic Nothing):

Very very minimal movie posters by Eduardo Prox:

More from Hexagonall...

Robert Cook...

Gidi Vigo...

Alex Eylar...

Marcin Zeglinski...


and Madfishes:

Believe it or not, the list goes on. These designs fill pages upon pages of your basic "minimalist movie poster" Google search, and most of the artists offer their designs for sale in print. Now let me be clear: I do not mean to disparage the efforts of any of these artists. Some of the designs above I really love. But I am interested in observing how this "movement" has e-(de?)volved. It seems that as more of these posters crop up, the range of creativity involved in their execution has become more narrow; to the point where drawing a shape and typing a movie title has become accepted as "design." Perhaps it is, and there's nothing new under the sun. I'm not interested in pointing fingers, and I'm definitely as guilty of this as anyone, having a few MMP's in my portfolio myself. I'm simply interested in looking at this recent trend as a whole. You can judge for yourself which of these designs stand out above the rest, and which designs leave something to be desired to you. If one thing's clear, it's that in the continually-evolving era of the internet, anyone in their bedroom can become a superstar, artists and designers included. But if I'm being honest, the oversaturation of this trend causes me some concern. Scroll back up to Olly Moss' poster for Indiana Jones, and you'll see not just an image, but a concept. I hope that all designers, amateur or professional, would continue to challenge themselves towards a greater synthesis of concept, image, and thus: meaning. So to all the minimalist poster designers out there, I congratulate you on your successes. You have been inspired, and you have inspired others, and your enthusiasm is contagious. Your contributions have helped to make alternate movie posters a continuing force to be reckoned with. As we move forward with the well quickly drying, seize this opportunity to move beyond the "minimal" and take it to the next level. Let's see what else ya got.

(credit for the first image in this post, "Minimalist Movie Poster," goes to the always clever Brandon Schaefer.)


Matthew Flute said...

Excellent post Sam.

The trend will evolve when the people doing it to become the next Olly move onto the next style.

The designers doing it because they genuinely love cinema will hopefully turn it into something similar to the gig poster world.

acy said...

Really cool ones! Great job :)
I also tried to create a bunch of minimalistic alternative movie posters: http://stuff24.de/blog/10-minimalistic-alternative-movie-poster/

Feel free to comment!

Tim Phelan said...

Great post. Yes, we all want to be Olly. Having 1,000 people smack themselves on the forehead saying 'I could have thought of that' is the addiction. Style is of the individual but great ideas are for the masses.

I like to think I tried some new ideas with a 4 book H.g Wells series of mine. Check it out here. http://timphelan.net/design/spine/



Anonymous said...

Great little article. It covers my viewpoint completely. I love minimalist movie posters like Olly Moss's, but when the poster loses concept (and putting simplistic, iconic images on the poster is not a concept) it becomes terrible, because the poster now says nothing, and in an especially boring way!