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  • Famous Movie Poster Artists Through the Ages

    April 14, 2024 4 min read

    In days gone by, movie posters were the primary method studios used to promote a film which made them a key part of the advertising process. This was in the days before computer graphics, which meant an artist had to hand-draw these posters. This era produced a long list of iconic movie posters worthy of hanging on your wall, all imbued with the personality and creativity of the artist.

    The world of movie poster artistry is a treasure trove of talent, with numerous artists leaving an indelible mark on the industry. Here, we explore the exceptional contributions of seven remarkable artists whose work continues to captivate audiences to this day.

    1. Saul Bass

    A pioneer of modern graphic design, Saul Bass revolutionized movie poster art and title sequences. His minimalist, symbolic designs for films like The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Vertigo (1958), and Psycho (1960) became as iconic as the films themselves. Bass's bold use of typography, stark shapes, and vibrant colors created a visual language that instantly captured the essence of a movie. His influence is undeniable, inspiring generations of graphic designers and filmmakers.

    Explore the Legacy: The Saul Bass Archive

    For those passionate about Saul Bass's groundbreaking work, the Saul Bass Archive at Film Art Gallery offers an incredible resource. Delve into a vast collection of his original posters, concept sketches, and other artifacts, gaining insights into his creative process and the lasting impact of his designs. Visit the Saul Bass Archive.

    2. Renato Casaro

    • Born in 1935, Renato Casaro stands as a titan in the realm of movie poster artistry. Casaro is still making movie posters today. His most recent poster was Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” (2019), for which Tarantino commissioned Casaro to make two movie posters seen within the film.

    Casaro has created approximately 2000 posters, including for notable films such as “Conan the Barbarian” (1982), “Once Upon a Time in America” (1984), and “Rambo” (1982). 

    While officially retiring from movie posters in the late '90s, his artistic spirit continues to thrive.

    3. Drew Struzan

    Drew Struzan has a formidable list of work that spans generations. Notable examples include all of the “Indiana Jones” posters, “Back to the Future” (1985), “Jurassic Park” (1993), “Blade Runner” (1982), and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (2001).

    Early in his career, Struzan began painting albums and book covers. However, Drew Sruzan later moved into movie posters and has produced a great many over the years. 

    Although mostly retired, Struzan occasionally graces the world with new works, as evidenced by his captivating piece  for  The Force Awakens (2015). 

    Struzan mainly worked on epic sci-fi franchises, though he also delved into other areas such as comedy for “Coming to America” and “Police Academy.”  

    4. Tom Jung

    Thomas Jung, known as Tom Jung, was born in 1942. Following his exit from the army, he worked in advertising, redesigning advertising campaigns for foreign films to appeal to an American audience.

    Later, he worked as a freelance art director for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).  The poster creation process at MGM was a lengthy one with artists creating multiple poster concepts for each film. Jung would create concept and charcoal sketches, later appointing artists to create full-color versions.

    He worked on posters such as the “Gone With the Wind” re-release, which Howard Terpning fully illustrated. The pose in this poster was replicated in the Style A poster for “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), highlighting the lasting importance of Jung’s work.

    5. Richard Amsel

    Graphic designer Richard Amsel had a brief but resoundingly successful career. He worked in numerous fields creating everything from magazine covers to movie posters. The movie posters Richard Amsel drew have become iconic creating his lasting legacy.

    Amsel’s first work was for Barbra Streisand’s “Hello, Dolly!” (1969), which he created at the tender age of 22. He is perhaps most well-known for the first and original “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) poster before Drew Struzan later took over the project.

    Amsel passed away 1985 at the age of 37 shortly after completing “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” (1985).

    6. Bob Peak

    Bob Peak is one of the most famous movie poster illustrators.  Peak’s classic style is behind such iconic works such as “Apocalypse Now” (1979) and “West Side Story” (1961).

    Peak started his career in advertising honing his artistic skills before making the switch into the movie industry. He became one of the most popular, in-demand artists for movies in the 60s, 70s, and 80s while he also continued to work on magazine cover design. 

    Many movie fanatics have Bob Peak posters on their walls, from “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) to a range of Star Trek films.

    7. John Alvin

    20 years after Bob Peak graduated from the Art Center College of Design in LA, John Alvin graduated from the same institution. John Alvin broke onto the scene in 1974 with a one-sheet for Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” (1974), basing the poster on a Roy Rogers magazine cover. 

    Alvin possessed a fantastic ability to capture light in his work while also encapsulating a movie in a single frame. For example, Steven Spielberg suggested an E.T. poster of E.T. touching Elliott’s head; Alvin proposed a version of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, instead..

    A number of his works contain little easter eggs. Take his “Blade Runner” poster. If you look closely, you might spot “ALVIN” written on the side of a building.

    Exploring The Legacy 

    These seven artists represent just a fraction of the immense talent that has graced the world of movie poster artistry. Their enduring contributions serve as a testament to the power of visual storytelling. 

    We are proud to have one of the world’s largest and finest collections of film posters. Check out our full collection of vintage movie posters to find a piece of movie art that speaks to you.   Browse our full collection

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