"Described by Steven Spielberg as My favorite movie artist, Drew Struzan has created some of the most iconic movie poster images of the last 30 years, from Raiders of the Lost Ark to Star Wars: Episode III. This is the first book to cover the acclaimed artists movie work in depth, with a Foreword by Frank Darabont. Featuring over 300 pieces of artwork, from black and white and colour comprehensives (presenting concepts and ideas) to final poster art, accompanied by excerpts from an exclusive interview with the artist, the development of 40 projects is related and explained. With scores of previously unseen pieces, including unused final poster art for movies such as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Hellboy II, this is a treat for movie buffs and artists alike."
I don't claim to be any sort of expert on Drew Struzan. While I was aware of his fantastic work on the Star Wars posters, Indiana Jones posters and some others, I was rather ignorant to his expansive body of work. That being said, I was still quite interested to check out the new book on the famed movie poster artist simply titled, The Art of Drew Struzan. What I figured would be a read that took me a couple evenings to get through, only ended up taking a couple hours as I ultimately couldn't put the book down.
Let's start with the foreward by writer/producer/director Frank Darabont. This really sets the whole tone for the book; not only in his appreciation for Drew's work, but for the artist versus the "suits" tone that gets gets carried through. Frank opens up by blasting the bland future that looms for movie posters. The "suits" claim that they know what audiences want and Photoshop may be the final nail on the coffin for movie poster paintings. The "suits" simply don't understand artists so they avoid working with them whenever possible. Frank is rather bitter about this since it means good artists are gradually being put out of work due to anyone being able to piece a few still images together on a computer and then call it a poster. But if a bleak future awaits for painted movie posters, Drew Struzan represents the glory days of that particular advertising medium. At the flick of the switch Darabont goes from a venomous anti-business suit rant to almost gushing about Drew Struzan; the man and the artist. Frank Darabont is passionate. There's no disputing that. His passion for the film industry, and Drew Struzan alike, helped him craft a masterful foreward that I've now read three times.
Following the foreward, David J. Schow provides us with an introduction that teaches you a bit about Drew's work and explains what will follow in the book. This book was not just created to display the finished work of Drew Struzan. This was created to be a celebration of Drew's work through views of finished pieces, looks at comprehensive drawings that lead up to the final product, and anecdotes from Drew himself. While it may not be a full blown collection of all of Drew's work, The Art of Drew Struzan finds a nice balance between selected pieces and the stories they created.
The artwork anectdotes from Drew were all over the place. Some touched on the creative process and how he'd envision the actors and actresses in certain poses. Some looked back on the first time he met such stars as Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg. Some centered on the back and forth that went on between the artist and the movie studios during production. The varying stories allowed for the book to stay fresh from one page to the next. Those who are not enamoured with the artistic creative process can enjoy the business related anecdotes, while art lovers may enjoy such things as the cut and paste process that went into the final product for Adventures in Babysitting. Each story or anecdote about a particular movie poster is delivered in a way that always feels relatable. I am in no way an artist. That being said, I could relate to frustrations Drew felt while dealing with studio executives. We've all has bosses that just don't get it. I could relate to how Drew used his wife, family and friends to model for him when deciding how to depict a character. I could relate to someone who truly loves and works hard at his passion.
Relating with Drew as the book progesses gradually becomes bitter sweet. The Art of Drew Struzan starts back in the 1980's and works towards the present. As things progress into the late '90s and 2000s, it becomes quite apparent that Drew realizes that his particular form of movie poster art was on the way out. It became more and more difficult to work with the "suits" in Hollywood and he just didn't vibe with the way the marketing wind was blowing. Whether you've studied Drew's work for years, or if this book is your first introduction, you can't help but feel for the guy.
The Art of Drew Struzan is a quick, yet engrossing, read for art lovers as well as those with passing interest. If the beauty of the art displayed in the book doesn't completely suck you in, Drew's insight into his work and the movie making machine will. I give this book a solid 4.5 out of 5. Its well worth the price, displays rather nicely and is quite simply, enjoyable.
Interested in hearing more of what our team had to say? Click here and check out a nice double-shot review from Jay Shepard and Chris Wyman over at Rebelscum.com.
The Art of Drew Struzan Written by Drew Struzan and David J. Schow Foreward by Frank Darabont Publisher: Titan Books Hardback: 160 pages Price: $34.95 Dimensions: 9” x 12 1/4” ISBN: 9781848566194 AVAILABLE NOW!