Reborio: The Complete Response

The first artist I chose to respond to was Cuban revolutionist designer; Reborio, and here is the final outcome of my experimentations, inspired by his work.

My main influence came from his poster for Moby Dick (1967), in which a focal image for the film- a whales tale- is placed infront of a psychedellic sunburst background, and filled with text. You can see the similarities in my work as I placed a focal image for my film concept- the gun- in the center of the composition, infront of a bright, sunburst background. I used a simple black outline and white fill to create the gun image, then filled it with colourful type, which is manipulated in size and angle to enhance the psychedellia. Looking through some of Reborio's other works I took elements from them to apply to my own. I used stripes in the background, a green border, and a pop art colour scheme.


Reynold Brown Response: Initial Design

The majority of Brown's posters feature extravagent, 'Come and see!' advertisments, with compostitions using star power, and sex, to sell the films. For this reason I aimed to create a simple composition which could be illustrated in a realist way, with 'wow' taglines. I have used the same images throughout my initial designs, but when developing them further will use appropriate stars to the era, and hopefull take some of my own images.

Reborio response: Initial design

In photoshop once again I have created a rough idea of how I will respond to one of my artists. Reborio, a Cuban revolutionary artist, has a fantastic style that i am looking forward to recreating in my own poster. I tried to incorporate elements of pop art, as Reborio did, by using bright, psychedellic colours. I wanted the piece to idolise the gun and hence have it surounded by a sun ray effect. I translated 'Bully' into spanish to enhance the Cuban origin, and found an appropriate font, though I think I may draw this myself to create a more psychedelic atmosphere.

Stenberg Brothers response: Initial Design


I tried to recreate a sense of constructivist style in photoshop, in order to have a starting point for a Stenberg brothers response. I began by creating a Stenberg brothers inspired background, using strong curves, like in the 'The Last Flight.' I then translated 'Bully' into russian, to enhance the soviet look, and placed this on the diagonal, a technique which has appeared in many of their posters. Using a couple of images from the film on top of this background, I aim to create an idea of the narrative, and further incorporate Stenberg style through coloured potraits.

Saul Bass response: Initial Design

Here I have created a simple photoshop composition to illustrate my idea of how to respond to Saul Bass. I used the Bass formula: an inconic, black shape, a bright, shaped background, and jagged typography. Although this desing is very rough, I think it serves as a initial starting point well.


Film Concept...

I have come up with my film idea and now feel that is simple enough to be manipulated to the context, but solid enough for me to design individual posters. I have created a document which explains how I will respond to particular artists using this concept- a simple overview to help me begin experimenting.

Title: BULLY

Genre: CRIME (Film-Noir, thriller)

Plot: A man who was bullied as a child has suffered a breakdown and begins to travel round killing “bullies” in ways representative of his past. Meanwhile a team of detectives are hot on his trail picking up bizarre clues which make the case ever more complex and deadly.


Poster features:

Title (the reccuring factor)
Star names (change over time, suited to the era)
Tagline (change depending on social events of the era)


SAUL BASS: One thing unique to Bass is his use of an iconic shape. I have chosen to use a revolver silhouette (see Mean Streets) as in my prior research I found the gun symbol to be the most common motif in the crime genre. I would also like this gun to be smoking at the barrel, as to create an iconic symbol for the film. Bass has a distinctive, jagged typeface, which I shall also apply to the poster. Many of Bass’s pieces, and in fact many from the 1950’s, use bright colours to contrast with stark blacks. For this reason I will experiment with different colours and shapes in the background.

STENBERG BROTHERS: The constructivist style of the Stenberg’s is an interesting technique, which I will try and apply to my poster. Constructivism involves using existing images and reconstructing them in a new manner. To incorporate their style, as well as the crime genre, I would like to collect some appropriate images to reconstruct (a gun, a police badge) and also some kind of coloured portrait photo, which appears in many of their pieces. I would also like to include geometric shapes in the background, and a soviet theme.

REYNOLD BROWN: The main thing I need to incorporate into a Brown response is a realist portrait. Most of his pieces included a detailed painting of the films’ star, often depicted some thematic pose relevant to a major scene in the film. For this reason I have chosen to portray a detective (Bogart) who serves as the main selling point for the film and is dressed in conventional costume to the genre, and is holding the gun. Often Brown’s posters featured some sexual interest, therefore I believe I should include a helpless woman, who appears in need of rescue by the male star. In terms of composition Brown, and most 1950’s designers, chose to feature montage scenes combining different elements of the film.

BOB PEAK: Peak’s posters from the 1960’s have a distinctive feel to them. They feature a bright painterly composition, which pastes together a selection of images from the film, giving us a broad picture of the film as opposed to one scene in particular, or just a star image. These compositions use a painted background, with prominent brush marks, and pen illustrations on top. For this I would like to include the detective character (Paul Newman) as the films heart, he is to be placed central in the piece with the other elements of the film surrounding him. Again I would like this character to be in the traditional costume for the genre, and be holding the gun. Because of the cultural background to Peak’s work, I would like this poster to incorporate a sense of change and revolution, taking elements of pop art into account. For example I will use brighter colours than expected in the genre, subverting the standard, blacks and red.

REBORIO: This Cuban revolutionary artist has a fantastic pop art style. His pieces are fantastically abstract and feature an array of psychedelic colours. I think I would like to incorporate the revolver symbol from my earlier ideas as it is an easily applicable shape, and I feel would work well in a psychedelic image. This will be drawn simply with a thick black line and may even house the typography of the poster. Surrounding this I would like to include a bold, bright sun ray effect, to create the idea that the gun is not a dark dangerous tool, but almost holy, and idolised during revolutionary times.

RICHARD AMSEL: Amsel’s posters are realist illustrations depicting characters and important elements from the films. They have no real sense of hidden message, they are simply illustrations to sell the film. I think I will respond to Amsel last once I have a collection of images and ideas of scenes and then incorporate them in a traditional montage.



Its been going quite well recently. I have uncovered information on a few more movie poster artists, and for times sake, have here just pasted in some information from their personal websites, which I will later come to type in my own words, and put in context with my film industry, and design research.

I will now begin to think of an overall film concept, to which I can create film posters in response to these artists, and the cultural style of their most prolific era.

Richard Amsel...


Richard Amsel was born in Philadelphia on December 4, 1947. He attended the Philadelphia College of Art, and, thanks in no small part to his winning HELLO DOLLY illustration, quickly found enormous popularity within New York's art scene.
The key to his success, beyond raw talent, was the unique quality of his work and illustrative style. Amsel could perfectly evoke period nostalgia (his posters for THE STING and westerns such as McCABE AND MRS. MILLER come to mind), while also producing something timeless and iconic, perfectly befitting both something old and something new. And however different his approach from one assignment to the other, all would bear his instantly recognizable stamp. Not to mention a damn cool signature:

"Amsel's work usually pays affectionate tribute to the past," one critic stated. "His style, however, is timeless and his attractive use of warm, glowing colors adds an even greater 'modernity' to his evocations of times and styles gone by."

Amsel himself said, "I'm interested in uncovering relationships between the past and the present, and in discovering how things have changed and grown. I don't see any point in copying the past, but I think the elements of the past can be taken to another realm." Such was the case with an early commission from RCA Victor, who asked the artist to create new artwork for their remastered recordings of Helen O'Connell, Maurice Chelalier, and Benny Goodman.
Amsel's illustrations then caught the attention of a young singer/songwriter named Barry Manilow, who at the time was working with a newly emerging entertainer in cabaret clubs and piano bars. Manilow introduced the two, and it was quickly decided that Amsel should do the cover of her first Atlantic Records album.

The artist's cover for Bette Midler's The Divine Miss M presented the 5'2" entertainer as a sort of natural-born icon, and one would be hard pressed to argue that Amsel's subject didn't deserve such treatment.

More album covers soon followed, along with a series of magazine ads for designer Oleg Cassini, but it's Amsel's portraits of the fire-haired diva that remain the most popular.
Amsel continued illustrating movie posters, and for some of the most important and popular films of the 1970's: THE CHAMP, CHINATOWN, JULIA, THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, THE LAST TYCOON, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN, McCABE & MRS. MILLER, THE MUPPET MOVIE, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, NASHVILLE, PAPILLON, THE SHOOTIST, and THE STING among them. (The latter's poster design paid homage to none other than Leyendecker.)

Though brief, Amsel's career was certainly prolific. By the decade's end his movie posters alone matched or exceeded the creative output of many of his contemporaries. Yet Richard Amsel was far more than just a movie poster artist.

His work graced the cover of TIME -- a portrait of comedienne Lily Tomlin, now housed in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. In keeping with the magazine's stringent deadlines, Amsel's illustration was created in only two or three days.

The 1980's marked a dramatic change in movie marketing campaigns, with more and more employing photographs in favor of illustrations. Movie poster artists now faced a narrower field in which to compete, often limited to science fiction, fantasy, and adventure films. The old masters like Bob Peak -- whose bold, striking campaigns for CAMELOT, STAR TREK, SUPERMAN, and APOCALYPSE NOW helped redefine the very nature of movie poster art -- seemed increasingly dated in their style, and had to make way for a new generation of artists (notably Drew Struzan).

Yet Amsel remained productive, his trademark signature becoming a widely recognizable fixture on further magazine covers and movie posters, including such high profile, "event" films as the colorful, campy FLASH GORDON, the elaborate fantasy THE DARK CRYSTAL, and - of course - that action/adventure film with a grandstanding name, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
Amsel's output garnered numerous awards, from the New York and Los Angeles Society of Illustrators, a Grammy Award, a Golden Key Award from The Hollywood Reporter, and citations from the Philadelphia Art Director's Club.

His last film poster was for MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME, the third of George Miller's apocalyptic action movies with Mel Gibson. His final completed artwork was for an issue of TV Guide, featuring news anchors Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather.

Amsel worked with all sorts of mediums. He frequently used thin glazes of acrylic, like washes of watercolor, and then applied colored pencils and pastels. He'd then go back and forth, combining them little by little, layer upon layer, until the piece was completed to his satisfaction.

Bob Peak...


One of the most imaginative and prolific illustrators of the 20th century, Robert Peak revolutionized advertising in the film industry and is considered the "Father of the modern movie poster." Robert Peak totally transformed the approach to movie advertising from basic collages of film stills or head shots to flamboyant artistic illustrations. United Artist hired Peak in 1961 to help promote "West Side Story." His innovative solution-painting characters and scenes into a single montage-became the first of over 100 such posters, among them "My Fair Lady," "Camelot," "Rollerball," "Star Trek," "Superman" and "Apocalypse Now." Peak was not short on editorial assignments with 45 covers of Time Magazine featuring his illustrations-most notably the portrait of Mother Teresa.

Born in Denver, Colorado, Peak grew up in Kansas. He knew from an early age that he wanted to be a commercial illustrator. At age seven, he received a gift of brushes and paints, and by age nine he was drawing recognizable likenesses. He attended Wichita State University where he majored in geology with a minor in art and got a part time job in the art department of McCormick-Armstrong. That is where he gained the confidence to choose an art career and learned the skill of versatility-doing layout, illustration and lettering. After a stint in the military during the Korean War, Peak transferred to the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, California and graduated in 1951.

In 1953 Peak moved to New York, landed an Old Hickory Whiskey ad campaign, and from that point on his career skyrocketed. His work appeared in major advertising and national magazines. Sports Illustrated sent him on assignments throughout the world, including a safari to hunt ibex with the Shah of Iran. He received the largest commission of an individual artist from the U.S. Postal Service to design 30 stamps for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California and 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.

In 1961 Peak was named Artist of the Year by the Artists Guild of New York, and in 1977 the Society of Illustrators elected him to its Hall of Fame. For his 30 years of outstanding contribution to the film industry, the Hollywood Reporter presented him the 1992 Key Art Lifetime Achievement Award.

Peak's work is included in many permanent collections, and three of these paintings-of Anwar Sadat, Mother Teresa and Marion Brando-hang in the Smithsonian Institution.

John Alvin...


Considered the pre-eminent movie campaign artist of the past 35 years, Alvin’s career began in 1974 with his creation of the iconic movie poster for Mel Brook’s “Blazing Saddles”. He most recently contributed design ideas for the campaign for Disney Studio’s “Enchanted.” In a career that encompassed multiple projects for such directors as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Blake Edwards, Mel Brooks and Ridley Scott, Alvin was considered by many studios as the go-to artist for movie poster and campaign art. John Alvin said that his work “created the promise of a great experience” and in that he never failed. 

Alvin and his wife, Andrea, had recently relocated to New York's Hudson Valley from Los Angeles in order to be closer to their daughter and only child, Farah, a Broadway actress. John Alvin said that as a child he eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Sunday paper so that he could peruse the ads for the new movies playing at the local theaters. He was enamored with the magic of film at an early age and would create art inspired largely by his love of film. That passion led him to the Art Center College of Design where he met his wife, Andrea (also a student at Art Center) from which he graduated in the early 1970s. 

His big break came with the job to create the movie poster for Mel Brook’s “Blazing Saddles” in 1974. This campaign led to Alvin creating the images for numerous other Brook's films including "Young Frankenstein". His prominence in this medium was soon after established with his creation of the movie posters for Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner,” Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.-The Extra-Terrestrial” and Blake Edward’s “Victor/Victoria.” Not only did Alvin create the movie posters for those particular films, but he also created many subsequent iconic film posters. In all, Alvin created the posters for over 135 movies in a 35 year career. He is considered to be an innovator in this genre. 

Alvin's work is currently represented in several art galleries nationwide where his original paintings, drawings and limited edition fine art reproductions are displayed. In his recent work, he continued to create iconic images for contemporary films like the Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean series.

Of the more than 120 film campaigns he has created, 'E.T. : The Extra-Terrestrial' is the most satisfying to Alvin, and appropriately so, as the movie is one of the most successful in cinema history. In addition to receiving the Hollywood Reporter Key Art Awards’ grand prize, Alvin's E.T. was the only movie art ever to be honored with the Saturn Award from The Academy of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Films. 

Alvin has also produced many special works for Lucasfilm Ltd.'s Star Wars phenomenon. His Star Wars Concert and Star Wars Tenth Anniversary poster are among the most collectible Star Wars art in the market today. Additionally, The Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., exhibited Alvin's 'The Phantom of the Paradise' as one of the best posters of the 20th Century. 

The ability to infuse art with feeling was one reason Disney wanted Alvin for The Lion King and the “adult campaigns” for many Disney animated classics. The adult campaign will usually be more elegant, more symbolic, and in Alvin's masterful hands, imbued with a moody, almost magical aura. "His work inspires us," say the Disney marketing execs. "Alvin brings emotion into his artwork that can only be captured in an illustration. We call it 'Alvinizing'." 

Alvin acquired a full array of artist's skills and techniques as a student of the distinguished Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. Soon thereafter, in 1974, he got his chance to put his love of entertainment art and his artist training to work by creating the campaign art for Mel Brook's 'Blazing Saddles'. Looking back, Alvin is surprised at times to realize that he’s been creating cinema art for more than twenty-five years. 

Alvin has developed and maintained a very loyal following among collectors of cinema art, making his original art and signed reproductions much sought after and treasured pieces of movie memorabilia. Truly, John Alvin belongs to a very special and very short list of cinema art masters whose works have become icons in Hollywood’s rich and colorful history. Most recently, John has been commissioned by Disney to create interpretive images for their fine art program, and he has been chosen as both the official fine artist for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the official poster artist for the 30th anniversary Star Wars Celebration in 2007. Clearly at the top of his game, John Alvin continues to increase the number of his admirers and collectors, not only as they look back on his substantial body of work, but also as they look to newest interpretive cinema art