Tyler Stout on the making of his Reservoir Dogs screen print

14.02.17

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Quentin Tarantino’s incredible debut feature, Reservoir Dogs. Often cited as one of the greatest independent films ever made, the depiction of the events leading up to, and the aftermath of, a botched diamond heist remains as powerful today as it was a quarter of a century ago. Back in 2012, Tarantino celebrated the 20th anniversary of the film by screening a 35mm print of the film at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, which he owns.

Held in late October, the screening was apparently attended by a ‘raucous and electrified crowd’. As the credits rolled, folks from the incomparable limited-edition geek culture outfit Mondo were there to unveil a special screen print created especially for the event. The print was designed and illustrated by Tyler Stout, the celebrated artist who had worked on the Mondo-released print for Tarantino’s event screening of Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair (also at the New Beverley).

The regular style of Tyler Stout's screen print for Reservoir Dogs, created in 2012

The regular style of Tyler Stout’s screen print for Reservoir Dogs, created in 2012

As is typical for Tyler’s work, the print came in both regular and variant versions and when Mondo put the remaining posters onto their online store they both sold out within seconds.

Whilst adding the regular version to the Film on Paper collection I wanted to interview the man himself about the creation of the print as I’ve done previously with his designs for AvengersAkira, Kill Bill and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The interview can be read in full below:

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Tyler, thanks for agreeing to talk about this excellent print. Am I right in thinking that Tarantino himself made a request for you to work on it?
I believe his people did. Its been a while so my memory is pretty spotty on the specifics, but it came after Kill Bill so we had a good relationship with his people.

Did you ever deal with him directly?
Nope, alas.

An early version of the design for Tyler's Reservoir Dogs in a portrait format.

An early version of the design for Tyler’s Reservoir Dogs in a portrait format.


Is Reservoir Dogs one of your favourites of the director’s films?
For some reason early Tarantino films just have a special place in my heart. From Reservoir Dogs through to Jackie Brown, all captured an era of my life that I remember fondly; working at a video store, hanging with my high school friends.

How long were you given to work on the design before the screening date?
I recall it was no more than a month.

Were you given any specific directions before starting?
Nope, none at all. Make it fun, basically.

An later version of the portrait format featuring a sunset sky that Tyler tried before settling on another colour scheme.

An later version of the portrait format featuring a sunset sky that Tyler tried before settling on another colour scheme.


Can you talk about your initial design ideas for the print? Was the composition and landscape format something you arrived at quickly?
Interestingly enough, the poster started out as portrait instead of landscape, but it just wasn’t working, so I switched it to landscape to see if it would work better and luckily it did. As with a lot of my prints, I just start drawing elements I know I’ll want to include on the print, and sometimes leave the layout to kinda come together later. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

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2000 posters

12.01.15

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Today marks a milestone for Film on Paper as the 2000th poster is added to the online collection. Since the site launched in May 2011 over 500 more posters have been added to the archive and the collection is now represented by over 19,000 photographs. Over the past 4 years the blog part of the site has been filled with fourteen interviews with artists and designers from all over the world.

I’m pleased to say that there are hundreds more posters waiting to be added to the collection and I’m already working on plans for several more interviews and blog posts to be published this year.

I wanted to take this moment to say thank you for your continued support of the site and that I appreciate all of your emails, comments and tweets. I’ve also decided to start a Film on Paper Facebook page so you can have all those quizzes, inane videos and photos of people you’ve not seen in person for 10 years interspersed with pictures of great film posters from all over the world!

Check out the Film on Paper Facebook page here, like it and share with any friends you think might be interested.

Visiting the Noriyoshi Ohrai exhibition in Japan

07.11.14

Noriyoshi Ohrai is one of my favourite poster artists, responsible for many iconic pieces of art used to advertise films including The Empire Strikes Back, The Goonies and several fantastic posters for the Heisei series of Godzilla films. Until recently the artist was almost a complete enigma to me since there was little information about him online beyond the basics and there are certainly no English-language books that have been written about his life and career.

When it was announced that an exhibition featuring practically all of Ohrai’s original artwork would be held in Japan during February/March 2014, which was to be the first time any of Ohrai’s art had been seen in public since his last exhibition in 1981, I knew that I had to make every effort to attend.

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One of four B2 posters used to advertise the Noriyoshi Ohrai exhibition, featuring one of many paintings that the artist did of the King of the Kaiju, Godzilla.

In March 2014 I flew over to Tokyo and then a few days later took an internal flight down to the Island of Kyushu with my friend and fellow poster collector Toru Onozatu (AKA Poster-man). The exhibition was located in the Art Center in downtown Miyazaki, which is the city that Ohrai has called home since 1973. We were very lucky to have been given a personal tour by the curator Tatsuya Ishida who kindly guided us around the exhibition’s multiple rooms that were spread over two floors. I recorded his comments as we walked and they are featured throughout this article.

A map of Japan showing the location of Miyazaki on the Island of Kyushu at the bottom of the country.

A map of Japan showing the location of Miyazaki on the Island of Kyushu at the bottom of the country.

The Art Center in Miyazaki, location of the Noriyoshi Ohrai exhibition

The Art Center in Miyazaki, location of the Noriyoshi Ohrai exhibition

The exhibition featured almost all of Ohrai’s original art for film, book covers, video games, editorial work, biology text books and more, with only a tiny handful of the film art missing (some with their current location unknown). A lot of the art still belongs to Ohrai himself but some of it had been flown to Miyazaki from collectors including George Lucas (for some of the Star Wars pieces), as well as the Japanese studio Toho who lent several of the Godzilla artworks to the exhibition. It was certainly a unique situation that all of these paintings were gathered together under one roof.

A print of the original artwork for a Star Wars poster printed in Japan to commemorate the release of a dubbed version of the original film in 1982, painted by Noriyoshi Ohrai. The huge (around A1 size) original art was on display at the exhibition and this small print was available to buy in the shop.

A print of the original artwork for a Star Wars poster printed in Japan to commemorate the release of a dubbed version of the original film in 1982, painted by Noriyoshi Ohrai. The huge (around A1 size) original art was on display at the exhibition and this small print was available to buy in the shop.

The exhibition began with a room containing a floor-to-ceiling pyramid of paperback novels and magazine covers that Ohrai worked on over a 30 year period, and this was surrounded by walls covered in framed posters of Ohrai’s film and commercial work. It was certainly a thrill to see them all together like that. The rest of the exhibition, in which photography was not permitted (I’ve included a handful of cheeky snaps), went through themes, beginning with Godzilla, moving onto book and magazine covers and a display of gigantic, incredibly detailed video game cover artworks. Also featured were some incredibly impressive portraits of famous figures, plus a room featuring Ohrai’s ‘Beauties in Myths covers for SF Adventure magazine. The last room contained posters for the Star Wars franchise, plus more film posters and several war-related paintings.

I wanted to share the visit with Film on Paper readers and the following pictures will hopefully give you an idea of what this memorable experience was like, plus I’ve also had the biography from the back of the exhibition catalogue translated into English and that is included at the end. Also featured are several photographs of pages from the catalogue since I was unable to actually photograph the artwork.

Exhibition director Tatsuya Ishida (left) and my friend, and fellow collector, Toru Onozato examine some of the many book covers painted by Ohrai in the first room of the exhibition.

Exhibition director Tatsuya Ishida (left) and my friend, and fellow collector, Toru Onozato examine some of the many book covers painted by Ohrai in the first room of the exhibition.

One side of the book covers pyramid in first room of the exhibition, these being mainly war related imagery.

One side of the book covers pyramid in first room of the exhibition, these being mainly war related imagery.

Mr Ishida explained to Toru and I that Ohrai worked on about 1300 book covers during his career and that the pyramid of books contained only about a third of his total output. In 1986 alone he worked on 130 book covers and he was completing a new illustration every 3 days or so.

A close-up of three of the hundreds of book covers that Ohrai painted during his career.

A close-up of three of the hundreds of book covers that Ohrai painted during his career.

For each book he would read it first and then think about what would make the best cover. He wasn’t just being given a title and then making something up. Mr Ishida explained that Master Ohrai did quite a lot of work for a few specific book authors and he developed a particular style for each one so that their books became instantly recognisable. In the 1970s he would get paid about 150000 Yen for each book cover.

Some of the book covers that Ohrai painted for the novels of the Japanese author Sakyo Komatsu.

Some of the book covers that Ohrai painted for the novels of the Japanese author Sakyo Komatsu.

Some of the book covers that Ohrai painted for the novels of the Japanese author Sakyo Komatsu.

Some of the book covers that Ohrai painted for the novels of the Japanese author Sakyo Komatsu.

Noriyoshi Ohrai was born in Akashi City, Hyogo prefecture in 1935. His family was evacuated to Sendai City, Kagoshima Prefecture after their house was bombed during the war and Mr Ishida told us that Ohrai went to an art university in Tokyo but dropped out after a while. Mr Ishida said, “he told me that the reason why was because he felt he had nothing more to learn from the teacher”.

Ohrai moved to Miyazaki from Tokyo in 1973 because it’s his wife’s hometown. He bought an old farmhouse and converted part of it into a studio.

A view inside Ohrai's studio in Miyazaki. This photo was on display in the exhibition and I've taken this from the Facebook page for the exhibition.

A view inside Ohrai’s studio in Miyazaki. This photo was on display in the exhibition and I’ve taken this from the Facebook page for the exhibition.

One side of the room of the exhibition that contained printed posters of Ohrai's work, including several Godzilla ones.

One side of the room of the exhibition that contained printed posters of Ohrai’s work, including several Godzilla ones.

Ohrai started out doing illustrations for newspapers then moved onto book covers and eventually started doing more and more posters after the huge success of the one he painted for The Empire Strikes Back.

The gorgeous Japanese B1 poster for The Empire Strikes Back, painted by Ohrai. This poster led to many more film-related commissions.

The gorgeous Japanese B1 poster for The Empire Strikes Back, painted by Ohrai. This poster led to many more film-related commissions.

 

Large reproductions of the newspaper adverts that Ohrai painted during the early part of his career. These were displayed in the first room of the exhibition.

Large reproductions of the newspaper adverts that Ohrai painted during the early part of his career. These were displayed in the first room of the exhibition.

A corner of the first room in the exhibition that contained printed posters of Ohrai's work.

A corner of the first room in the exhibition that contained printed posters of Ohrai’s work.

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Book recommendation: The Art of John Alvin

15.09.14

You may not have heard of John Alvin but there’s no question that you will have seen at least one of the iconic pieces of movie art which he created over the course of almost 35 years. Starting with the posters for Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, John would go on to work with many of Hollywood’s top directors and producers, with memorable campaigns created for the likes of Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott and the Walt Disney animation studio. Whether it’s the iconic image of E.T. and Eliot’s finger touching over a background of stars, the moody artwork for Blade Runner that ended up being used around the globe or the beautiful paintings created for films like Beauty and the Beast, John Alvin’s contribution to the magic of cinema cannot be underestimated.

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The artist sadly passed away suddenly in 2008 but now a new book entitled The Art of John Alvin has been released after four years of preparation by his wife (of 37 years) and studio partner Andrea. An absolute must-own for any fan of film posters and the art of cinema, the book features almost all of John’s most notable campaigns which are each given their own section. As well as images of the printed poster, there are also early sketches, painted concepts and pictures of the original artwork itself, plus Andrea has provided fascinating commentary detailing the creation of each piece.

The section on John's poster for Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise, which had to be altered before release due to some legal issues.

The section on John’s poster for Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise, which had to be altered before release due to some legal issues.

There are many fascinating tidbits throughout the book, including how the Lost Boys one sheet was assembled from multiple different photos with painting used to make it seem like it was a group shot. Andrea also details how John used his daughter Farah’s hand as the model for Eliot’s on the E.T. poster and how John’s art was instrumental in selling the new generation of Disney animated films (starting with Beauty and the Beast) to adults as well as children. Some of the more fascinating sections are those for poster campaigns that never made it past the concept stage, including some for Return of the Jedi, Batman (1989) and Godfather III.

Two pages of the Blade Runner section featuring original graphite sketches on the right and a more recent illustration on the left.

Two pages of the Blade Runner section featuring original graphite sketches on the right and a more recent illustration on the left.

I can’t recommend the book highly enough and hopefully some of these photos will persuade you that it belongs on your bookshelf! It’s available from Amazon UK and Amazon US and other bookshops too.

To see the John Alvin posters in the Film on Paper collection click here.

A Batman concept that was fully painted but abandoned by the studio in favour of the logo design.

A Batman concept that was fully painted but abandoned by the studio in favour of the logo design.

A few of the many poster concepts John Alvin created for Spielberg's Jurassic Park. Many of the ideas are brilliant in their own right.

A few of the many poster concepts John Alvin created for Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Many of the ideas are brilliant in their own right.

Concept artwork for The Little Mermaid, one of several Disney films that John's artwork helped to promote around the globe.

Concept artwork for The Little Mermaid, one of several Disney films that John’s artwork helped to promote around the globe.

The book also features non-cinema artworks, including these for the VHS release of the original Star Wars trilogy.

The book also features non-cinema artworks, including these for the VHS release of the original Star Wars trilogy.

Tyler Stout on the making of his The Avengers screen print

31.07.14

To celebrate the release of 2012’s hugely anticipated superhero team-up The Avengers, Marvel, the studio behind what was unquestionably the biggest cinematic event of the year, once again worked with Austin-based Mondo to release a series of screen prints based on characters from the film. The incomparable Austin-based geek culture outfit has worked on prints for all of the standalone Marvel releases, starting with Iron Man in 2008 and only skipping the same year’s The Incredible Hulk.

The team at Mondo assembled a roster of its most celebrated artists to work on prints for each of the main characters and these were released over the period of a week in April 2012, beginning with Olly Moss‘ portrait of Black Widow and ending with Thor by Martin Ansin and Iron Man by Kevin Tong. A few weeks later, on the eve of the film’s release, Mondo then revealed a print featuring all of the characters that was designed and illustrated by arguably their most popular artist, Tyler Stout.

The regular version of Tyler Stout's screen print for The Avengers, 2012

The regular version of Tyler Stout’s screen print for The Avengers, 2012

As usual, the print came in both regular and variant versions and, despite each having relatively high print runs, the poster sold out within seconds of going on sale on Mondo’s site. I was lucky to snag a copy of the print via Tyler’s own lottery, which he now holds on his own site shortly after each print release sells out via Mondo.

Whilst adding the regular version to the Film on Paper collection I wanted to interview the man himself about the creation of the print as I’ve done previously with his work on Akira, Kill Bill and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The interview can be read in full below:

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Hey Tyler, can I start by asking if you were keen to work on a poster for The Avengers after the prints you’d done for Iron Man 2 and Captain America? Did you ask the guys at Mondo if you could get involved?
Well, bear in mind that I did this poster over two years ago so it’s hard for me to remember the exact conversation, but it probably was something similar to the Mondo guys asking me, “Hey do you want to do a poster for Avengers?” and me going “Sure”, and then several emails from them saying “Is it done yet?” then me finishing it at the last minute.


Did you get to see the film before you worked on the print? What did you think?
I didn’t. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a film before it’s released officially. Actually, Best Worst Movie – I saw that one. For the rest though, if it’s a new film, I don’t usually get into screenings. I really liked The Avengers a lot and it’s my second favourite Marvel film, after the first Iron Man. Since then I would probably add Captain America 2 up there as I really enjoyed that, plus Iron Man 3.

How long were you given to work on the design?
I can’t really say for sure. I’m certain they gave me at least a month’s heads-up, probably more like three months heads-up. Not that it does much good as I’m a last minute man.

An early thumbnail sketch for the poster that Tyler submitted to Mondo for approval before beginning work.

An early thumbnail sketch for the poster that Tyler submitted to Mondo for approval before beginning work.

Can you talk about your initial design ideas for the poster?
We were required to submit a thumbnail sketch of our design ideas early on in the process. As you can see I stuck pretty close to mine and just had to tweak a few colors and voila. Done. It was in my head the entire time.

Were there certain elements or characters you knew had to sit next to each other?
My posters are the very definition of happy accidents. Looking at this one, I think I deliberately made Captain America and Iron Man/Tony Stark smaller and less central to the piece because I’d already done posters for their individual films, so those two characters had already had their day to shine. Having seen the film, I realise now that maybe Hawkeye isn’t as main of a character as Cap or Stark (who’s a huge part of the film), but thats life. I let personal bias get in the way.

An early, colourless version of the print with a few notable differences.

An early, colourless version of the print with a few notable differences.

What about the idea of having each character with a portrait and an alternative pose?
I like drawing faces up close and I like kinda showing them in action. I just like repeating things for some reason. It gives it the feeling of movement, for me anyway.

One small note of interest is that, due to a lack of time, I used the city portion of a discarded design for a Drive poster as the background for this print. Later we ended up doing a letterpress of that same Drive design. This is known in the TStout industry as ‘double-dipping’.

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A close-up of an earlier version of the poster, featuring Black Widow and a cityscape ‘borrowed’ from an unused poster for Drive (as detailed above and featured below).

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A letterpress of an earlier, unused poster for Drive (2011) that was designed by Tyler and from which he ‘borrowed’ the background cityscape for the Avengers print.

Was the composition and framing using the ‘A’ something you arrived at rapidly?
Having looked back at earlier versions it seems like the A feature was always pretty central to the design, there wasn’t any layout that didn’t involve it actually. So that’s good that I stuck to my guns.

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