The Art of Drew Struzan

If you grew up in the 1980s then I’m sure the work of american painter Drew Struzan was not far from sight. He started creating film posters around 1975 and worked very consistently throughout the 80s and 90s creating more the 150 posters during his career. He worked with many huge movie franchises creating a visual identity for the movies through his still images and compositions. Where would movies like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future and Big Trouble in Little China be without their iconic Struzan posters?

Everyone I introduce Struzan’s work to eventually say the same thing: “He did THAT poster too?!”

I could go on and on about his work, but I wanted to make this post for a very specific and personal reason. I recently picked up his latest book, The Art of Drew Struzan from the kind folks at Strange Adventures and read it in one sitting. The book is packed with process sketches, previous versions of posters along with loads of stories about the jobs he’s worked on, the crazy pitfalls that happened, and those special jobs where he collaborated with directors. As most artists trying to make a living in the creative realm, Drew is no stranger to client nightmares and the silliness of corporate Hollywood. The book is honest, Drew holds nothing back.

It might be odd of me to say that these stories (both good and bad) are inspiring, but there’s another level at work here. Most of the people who visit my blog are artists or designers, like me. We’re doing our best to use our abilities to make nice things as best we can, and in order to do that and get paid we need to be hired. Sometimes that works out well, and sometimes it doesn’t. Drew Struzan is in the same boat as the rest of us. It’s easy to see his work and the people he’s worked with and make assumptions involving thrones and riches, but he’s a working man. Just like us.

Drew is the best in my opinion, and his story is remarkably down to earth. I approached Drew about doing an interview for the blog. He was understandably too busy, but I did receive a very nice email in return. It’s amazing to learn that your hero is a nice guy.

I highly recommend picking up The Art of Drew Struzan for the fantastic art, the insightful process and the stories.

7 Comments

  1. Growing up in Italy I never knew about Drew Struzan until you mentioned him and yes, I said “He did all of those posters?!”

    As we commented on Twitter, it’s sad to see how Hollywood has taken his work and stripped it of all composition, storytelling and emotion to focus solely on badly photoshopped headshots of the current star.

    Its reassuring to know that there are people like you out there who are trying to bring quality back to the art of poster design.

  2. Remember that scene from the new Mist movie where Jane’s character paints the Dark Tower one and the “The Thing” one stands in the back? :)

    But I digress.
    AWESOME!

  3. Insane. Coming from a younger generation I suppose I took a lot of these illustrations for granted. I can’t believe they are all one person, and amazingly I love them all. I need this book.

  4. Cameron

    Great collection here James! Thanks for posting them!

    Man, i can’t believe they didn’t use the Hellboy II one! What were they thinking!?

  5. I hadn’t seen that Walking Dead poster before. That’s awesome.

  6. Spijker

    Good god!
    I never saw the poster of pan’s labyrinth by drew struzan :O
    It is amazing!

  7. John

    Wicked awesome…. the first artwork of his I saw was, The Thing and Back to the Future poster. Amazing work from Drew.

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