The masters of hand drawn poster art

Posted by David Konow

I've loved hand drawn poster art ever since I was a kid, and in the days of computer graphic design, you just don't see movie posters like the '77 Star Wars and Jaws anymore.



When Drew Struzan, who was a huge favorite of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Frank Darabont, retired, it felt like the end of an era.

The masters of hand drawn poster artStruzan was one of the only artists still doing hand drawn art for movie campaigns because Lucas and Spielberg had the clout to clinch whatever ads they wanted.

Struzan has published several books of his work, and all of his movie poster art has been archived inthe book Drew Struzan: Oeuvre, which hit Amazon on October 4, 2011.
 
Yet I have to admit there was a point a long time ago that I didn't know the names of anyone who did my favorite poster artwork, which set me on a mission to find out who actually did what.

Interestingly enough, even many of the people who worked on Jaws didn't know the famous poster illustration was created by Roger Kastel, who also did the Empire Strikes Back poster that mimicked Gone With the Wind with Han and Leia in a Scarlett and Rhett style embrace. 



It also took me forever to find out who created the artwork for Jaws 2, and it turned out to be Lou Feck, who like Kastel, also did a lot of paperback book covers when the market for hand drawn illustration was still strong.
 
I loved the work of Bob Peak long before I knew his name, and realized he was the same artist who gave us the iconic poster art for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Apocaylpse Now, Excalibur, Superman, and more.



One of my all time favorite poster artists was also a major sci-fi artist, John Berkey, who created the ad campaigns for the 1976 King Kong, Orca, The Towering Inferno, and the Star Wars paperback novelization, which was originally Berkey's idea for the movie poster. 

There's many, many more I can name, but two last ones I've always loved that come to mind were by Mad Magazine cartoonists Mort Drucker (American Graffiti), and Jack Davis (The Bad News Bears).
 
Before he retired, Struzan told me, "Painting to please people is a really wonderful lesson. As my skill developed, part of my skill was learning what makes other people happy. It's a real connection to humanity which is something I really enjoy in being an illustrator.



"I'm very sad that many of my peers don't do it anymore," Struzan says. "There's not enough work to go around and they've had to find other ways to get along. I'm really blessed and humbled that I can still do what I've always done."