The Art of Drew Struzan (Titan Books)

Master movie poster illustrator Drew Struzan’s iconic illustrations gave life to some of the silver screen’s most memorable films, from Indiana Jones to Star Wars to Harry Potter, and this career retrospective goes behind the scenes to see the process—and the politics—behind some of Hollywood’s best-known images.

 

158 pgs. B&W with full color prints; $34.95 hardcover
(W: Drew Struzan and David J. Schow; A: Drew Struzan)
 
 
Indiana Jones. Back to the Future. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Star Wars: Episode II and III. If you have seen any of these movies, you know Drew Struzan. His name may not be in the credits, and you wouldn’t recognize his face on the street, but you know him anyway.
 
As Frank Darabont, a writer/director/producer and self-described “crabby old man” writes in the foreword, “Movie posters suck these days. They’re going to suck even more tomorrow.” But it wasn’t always this way; there used to be actual artists employed by studios, who did actual art that was actually good. Their works became more than a cheap marketing ploy, they became gallery-worthy in their own right, and Drew Struzan is among the best. Struzan’s gorgeous movie posters have graced theater entryways and VHS and DVD covers for the last four decades, welcoming you to some of the best films produced by Hollywood. His spot-on portraiture brings a tactile realism and at-a-glance summation of the entire film to the viewer, managing to evoke all the familiar feelings that make a great film something more than just another slot in your collection as soon as you see it. The Art of Drew Struzan shows exactly how he did it, letting readers get a peek at the many “comps” (rough drafts) it took before a final product was revealed, including several never-before-seen comps, as well as the stories behind every image.
 
As the book progresses, these stories seem to supersede the art, and the reader is let in on the secrets of Hollywood boardrooms, and how the supposedly ineffable wisdom of the “suits,” as Struzan calls them, winds up negating much of what he does. The Art of Drew Struzan is as much a journey through the corporatization of Hollywood and removal of the creative process from filmmaking as it is a chronological collection of Struzan’s work. These stories are not unwelcome, and in fact should be required reading. People need to know how studios are spoon-feeding them, how they cordon off directors from everyone else working on their movies, and how even the most talented artist can get frustrated as a result. If the reader enjoys anything about Struzan’s work, they should be insulted and irate at this news. Struzan’s art did not supplant any movie, it enhanced it, so much so that whenever the viewer saw a poster done by Drew Struzan it would be a guarantee that the movie was well worth their hard-earned dollar.
 
The Art of Drew Struzan is more than a mere collection of his best-known pieces (though it is that, too); it peels back the layers and exposes the time, energy, and sweat that went into creating every poster, as well as the studio politics which ultimately led one of Hollywood’s most gifted artists to give up his paintbrush. The stories need to be read and fumed at, the art gazed upon and appreciated for its beauty and exactness. And, perhaps, a letter needs to be written to a quiet, unassuming artist thanking him for his indelible mark upon the film industry, whose work assures us that, at one time, movie posters did not suck. | Elizabeth Schweitzer
 
Here is a small sampling of Struzan’s better-known film posters. View a full gallery of Drew Struzan’s works at www.drewstruzan.com.

  

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