A personal perspective about movie artist Drew Struzan
By Gerry Kissell
My first experience of seeing and recognizing Drew Struzan's work was back in 1979. I'd bought a couple of Alice Cooper albums -- 1974's "Greatest Hits" double album set & 1975's "Welcome To My Nightmare" -- that hadjust this cool 1930's style art that wrapped around the front to the back and illustrated the fold out section.
My second experience was when Raiders of the Lost Ark came out and I saw one of the three posters that was created for the promotion of the film. One of those three had a name I recognized signed on it. The name was nothing fancy, or even long. It just read the word or name "drew", all in lower case and that was all. Then later that year I saw it again on First Blood and then again on what was Drew's first Star Wars poster, which actually was done dually with another artist.
Though his name wasn't on the piece, I immediately recognized his style on the cover art for the Blade Runner book. Not to sound silly, but I was in love with this guy's art. It reminded me of the Casablanca posters or even the style of the Saturday Matinee marquee posters of the 30's, 40's and 50's. At this point I began collecting his art.
By 1983, I could identify anything he created at a glance.
Now, seeing that my fate was already set at becoming a professional artist myself, I found that his way of doing faces was directly effecting my own. From the way you could see his pencils through the paint to the way he used colored pencils to do the highlights on the faces, creating a photographically real look to the faces.
Though today it seems movie poster art seems be dying off now that anyone with Adobe Photo Shop can create movie posters in seconds by cutting, pasting and adding little effects to already existing photos, Drew Struzan is still at the forefront of his field. When John Williams released his special Steven Speilberg John Williams CD back in 1992, it was graced with a Drew painting.
When TV Guide did a special edition on the Star Wars series, Drew was there for the special collector's covers. When the Indiana Jones' books were released, it was Drew creating the new covers. Why? Because within these posters, Drew managed to sum the over all feelings of these characters and the films themselves into a single static image. When kids and adults alike saw those posters, they saw what was in the film, and that made them want to see it even more. As an artist myself, I know exactly how difficult this is, and I also know that Drew seems to do it with effortless ease.
Who could forget the 1985 Indiana Jones poster campaign slogan "The man with the hat is back...", that had the shot of Ford looking up from under the brim of his Fedora? That was a Drew painting. Who could forget the "Adventures in Babysitting" poster with the kids hanging by a rope on the side of a skyscraper? Another Drew painting. Or how about the "Back to the Future"; poster with Michael J. Fox stepping out of the suped up Delorian, looking at his watch? Once again, another Drew painting.
This man is a legend, as much as Steven Speilberg or George Lucas. Why? Because his art has helped with the appeal of many of the films made by either of those men. Hell, even the poster for "An American Tail" was a Drew poster. How can anyone think of Indiana Jones and not have a mental image of one of Drew's posters? His art is now synonymous with these films.
My father once told me when I was a boy playing baseball; "There are three kinds of ball players in the field, son. The first kind is the half-assed guy who makes even the easy plays look hard. The second is the guy who makes the hard plays look easy and the easy plays hard. The third guy is the one who loves the game the most because he makes 'em all look easy."
Drew, like that third ball player, makes it all look easy.
Make sure to visit the
OFFICIAL DREW STRUZAN WEBSITE