In September 2007, BladeZone
site contributor, Bryan Ebenhoch conducted an interview with the talented artist
who produced Blade Runner's iconic Movie Poster and works of many other Hollywood
masterpieces. We honor his achievements and will miss his presence.
Capturing 2019 today… and
a look back at the future we remember
John Alvin’s masterful works has fascinated millions
His poster artwork has inspired many and has been embraced by an ever growing
collectors market that only continues to increase in price.
His work in sci-fi has been most enjoyable, particularly to
the fans of Blade Runner. For 1982, he created a strikingly bold work featuring
Harrison Ford, Sean Young and the cityscape of 2019. Now, 25 years later, it
is a great honor to announce here at BladeZone Mr. Alvin’s release of
his homage to the film with his new “I’ve Seen Things”, the
official, approved 25th Anniversary edition fine art print promoting Blade Runner:
The Final Cut.
For the first time collectors can obtain a limited edition
print of the updated version of the Blade Runner poster from 1982 as a giclée
on canvas through the Chuck Jones Gallery. This is the first ever authorized
art print of this iconic subject and comes signed by the artist with a run of
only 500 pieces from the John Alvin Collection. Additionally, a paper edition
of greater number will be made available.
Fans can now obtain this work through www.ChuckJonesGallery.com/JohnAlvin
While we had this opportunity to announce this to the visitors
of our site, we took some time to ask Mr. Alvin a few more questions on his
remarkable career and add to our interview from 2000 (link).
Mr. Alvin, how did you get into the role of producing artwork
for motion pictures?
A very long time ago, a friend in the industry asked me
to participate in creating an unusual poster for a new comedy that was coming
out. The filmmaker was unhappy with the efforts of the marketing department
and he had declined everything they had shown him. My friend had a concept that
he felt would work and he came to me to illustrate it. It worked! That friend
was Anthony Goldschmidt, an excellent designer and visual thinker. The filmmaker
was Mel Brooks and his film with my poster attached to it, was Blazing Saddles.
How were you approached to work on Blade Runner?
A few years later, Goldschmidt was operating a small prestigious
design studio and they had been asked to develop an advertising campaign for
the new Ridley Scott film. Based on his faith in my ability and our past performance
together, Goldschmidt called me to create the artwork for it.
Were you represented by an agency at the time?
No. Up until 1983, I represented myself in the motion picture
industry. I was fortunate enough to have had and maintained good business relationships
and a fine reputation for performance and professionalism, so the better designers
and advertising departments called me time and time again.
Did you work directly with Ridley Scott?
I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Scott and interact with
him on several different films, including Blade Runner, Legend, and briefly
on Black Rain. My roll as an illustrator rarely put me in the same room with
the filmmaker. Most of the time, my work would be shown to filmmakers by marketing
executives. The one sheet is also only a part of the marketing effort involved
around a feature film. Even in the face of this, in that era, the one-sheet
still held its own as the iconic identity of the film. I'm delighted to have
seen my Blade Runner art survive the years and be re-shown again and again,
right down to the impressive, multi-disc DVD edition. It makes great sense to
keep the icon with the iconic.
What direction and reference were you given to produce your vision of the poster?
I was given very good conceptual direction by Goldschmidt
and great emotional and visceral input from my brief time with Mr. Scott. My
job was to synthesize all the vital interests into a new original and cohesive
whole that would still be an exciting visual invitation to the audience. The
reference materials available at the time left a lot to be desired and I really
had a few moments when I had to wrestle with the art to bring it around. Fortunately,
my wife Andrea, who is a fine painter, offers me the "second eye"
artists sometimes need to refresh their view of their own work. She saw where
certain things could be enhanced as I was too close to the art very late in
the game. She told me where to adjust. She was right and what we all now know
and accept as the Blade Runner art came to be.
How many concepts were produced for review by Ridley?
While I created many different conceptual drawings and
color studies, Mr. Scott might not have necessarily seen them all. We must remember
that marketing executives usually have an idea of how to position a film and
that the filmmakers are busy finishing their work and there isn't always the
luxury of everyone being able to peruse countless creative possibilities. After
a point, we collectively placed our faith on my work and the rest is history
as mine was selected over other submissions because it best suited everyone's
interest, including those of Ridley Scott. Some of the additional concepts and
drawings should be visible on the four disc edition of the DVD along with my
What is your preferred media today and what was the original
one sheet artwork produced in?
The best answer is the vague term "mixed media".
In fairness to fans, this really means that different materials produce different
results and the methods of application further complicate a clear picture of
the making of artwork. My current works is a deliberate combination of brush-painted
acrylics, airbrush applied acrylics, colored inks, colored pencils and sometimes
pastels. The original Blade runner one-sheet was a forerunner of my contemporary
techniques. It was painted in acrylics, both brushed and airbrushed, and it
was finished in oil paint, applied over the acrylic.
Did you receive acclaim from members of the Blade Runner cast
Only incidentally and after the film had opened. It isn't
that cast and crew liked it or didn't like it, but rather that our paths rarely
have occasion to cross. After a production is wrapped, cast and crew are off
to their next assignment. Somewhere late in the schedule, someone like myself
is engaged to create advertising imagery and we just never have reason to linkup.
I always hope that those I have depicted are happy with my work, just as I am
usually inspired by theirs.
This is especially true in the case of Blade Runner, and
I finally got a chance to include Rutger Hauer as Roy in the
Anniversary version. I always thought he did a remarkable job. You might have
noticed that I even titled the newer piece with a snippet of Roy's
Has your work on Blade Runner specifically opened other opportunities
for you with other directors and agencies?
I believe it helped present me within the industry as a
top rated, professional, reliable talent, and such qualities are as critically
important as the ability to create specialized imagery. You can imagine the
power of being associated with a filmmaker the quality of Ridley Scott. I am
immensely proud of this association and I would be even if this art hadn't echoed
so wonderfully throughout the ongoing life of this film.
How were you approached to produce your current version of
A few years ago, I wanted to revisit my own creation and
take another artistic run at this fascinating subject. I wanted to add in Roy,
who had been left out of the preferred original one-sheet concepts and to re-examine
the grittiness of Ford's Deckard portrayal. I also felt Rachel could be approached
slightly differently and to all the characters' advantage, I tried to keep closely
related to the integrity of the original one-sheet.
Once I finished it, I began to show the work around to
relevant parties and recently, the advent of the 25th Anniversary gave everyone
a chance to be on the same page and I was able to secure approval for offering
a fine art print which commemorates the endurance of this great motion picture.
How did you establish your relationship with the Chuck Jones
Previous associates felt that the Chuck Jones Gallery and
I would be a great match. They were right! In the sad wake of the great Chuck
Jones' passing, the gallery wanted to focus further on entertainment art and,
as I wished to express myself about the fabulous realm of art about the movies,
we shook hands like old friends and we are collectively very happy to be working
together. Craig Kausen, the CEO and his wonderful staff, have put forth a tremendous
effort in terms of publishing excellent licensed limited editions of my work.
It feels like one of those rare business arrangements where both parties believe
they've made a great deal.
What process is used to reproduce the vivid details of this
This print is produced by the specialized process known
as "giclée". This is a unique way of getting the image onto
canvas and insuring it won't scrape off or be inclined to fade. The process
sometimes looks as compelling as an original painting.
How do you feel about the re-release of Blade Runner and its
impact on culture today?
I remain proud of my connection and my contribution to
the legacy of this film. I'm delighted that the artwork I created twenty five
years ago still is the preferred image used to grace specialty packaging and
it lives in the minds of fans as the only icon for the film. The impact that
the film has on our culture is remarkable. I don't believe any other cinematic
depiction of a future world has held up as well as this one. The film doesn't
have a single second of feeling "dated" and it remains flatly superior
to the many other attempts at a glimpse into a dark and unknown future for mankind.
What’s on your career calendar for the future?
My gallery represents me as "America's
Cinema Artist". I accept this and I take it quite seriously. Curiously,
that title describes my work, my history, my creative directive and my future.
Do you have any words of support for those wishing to have
a career in producing posters for films?
Sadly, I believe the golden and glory days of movie posters
are behind us. The one-sheet is no longer the principal focus in advertising
a film. A career path in this field is difficult to define and to follow. My
former and only apprentice, Sergio Grisanti, is a fine talent who witnessed
the change in the field some years ago. He watched as the needs and demands
of movie marketing changed and shifted. While I felt that I could offer less
to the field, he felt he could offer what the profession needed and he boldly
stepped forward to do so. He is doing this now. I could not be more proud of
him nor could I stand in greater admiration of his courage than I do.
In a sense, Sergio reflects what I might offer as words
of support for those wishing to have a career in producing posters for films.
Simply put, don't do it unless you believe in yourself, and if you do it, do
it fully and truly aiming for success or don't bother.
BladeZone and the admirers of your work thank you for taking
the time to speak with us about your talented career and your contribution to
the world of Blade Runner.
We congratulate you on your efforts over the years of making
equally impressive works and hope to see your future art in the years to come.
Mr. Alvin is represented by the Chuck Jones Gallery exclusively
terms of art prints.