The One Sheet Wonder

No one makes movie posters like Drew Struzan, whose paintbrushes and pencils have conjured wizards, raiders, and Vaders for nearly four decades

3 Comments

As a small child, Drew Struzan drew before he spoke. “My mom said if I wanted a drink of water I’d draw a faucet with water coming out of it,” says the legendary poster artist, who is now 66. “All I wanted to do was draw and paint.”

He got what he wanted. To view his work is to remember some of the iconic images of movie history. Marty McFly syncs his watch with Doc for Back to the Future,Indiana Jones cocks an eyebrow for Raiders of the Lost Ark,a famous boy wizard grips a sword for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.Using acrylic paints and colored pencils, Struzan creates visuals that are equal parts dreamy and lush. What they don’t do is tell a story. “If you want a story, go see the movie,” Struzan says. “It’s pure feeling instead of all the other stuff behind it.” His knack for turning a film’s essence into a one-sheet has won him a loyal clientele of directors, from George Lucas to Steven Spielberg to Guillermo del Toro. At one point Struzan was so in demand that he worked 100-hour weeks for eight years straight without a day off. The pace has slowed, but he’s still drawing. Recently another repeat customer, the director Frank Darabont, hired Struzan to do the poster for his new TNT series, Mob City.

Asking Struzan if he has a favorite work is futile. “If I had a favorite, then I would have already done the best I can do,” he says. “I’d lose my spark of creativity. My favorite is always the very next one.”

An exhibition celebrating Struzan and the late Bob Peak, who created posters for the first five Star Trek movies and Apocalypse Now, among other films, opens January 24 at the Forest Lawn Museum, 1712 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale, 323-340-4921.

carousel 1 carousel 2 carousel 3 carousel 4 carousel 5 carousel 6 carousel 7 carousel 8
carousel 1

Blade Runner, 1982

carousel 2

The Walking Dead, 2010-Present

carousel 3

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 2002

carousel 4

Cutthroat Island, 1995

carousel 5

Shawshank Redemption, 1994

carousel 6

Hellboy, 2004

carousel 7

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984

carousel 8

Star Wars: Episode VI-Revenge of the Jedi, 1983 (We know, we know. There is no Start Wars movie with this name. But Struzan says Lucas had intended there to be one. “When George decided that Jedi do not take revenge,” Struzan explains, “he retitled the movie Return of the Jedi. However, when he changed the title, they did not use this same artwork Therefore it was never used, and the original title remained with this orginal art.”)


Quotes from the 2013 documentary Drew: The Man Behind the Poster:

“If you can get Drew Struzan to do a poster, it’s almost worth making movies just for that.” — Frank Darabont

“For my generation and the generation right before me, Drew Struzan was the movies.” —Guillermo del Toro

“I’m a Drew Struzan fan…. [He] could even make the Wookiees look good.” — George Lucas

“I had to almost live up to the art that we later were going to ask Drew to create for the poster.” — Steven Spielberg


This photo essay originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Los Angeles magazine

Related Content

Comments

  1. Don MacIver

    January 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    World renowned illustrative artist Drew Struzan has gifted the world the magic of his extraordinary creative genius, his audience the benefactors of decades of remarkable images that speak aloud an inspired message to never let go of a dream.

    Heralded as one of the world’s foremost experts in the illustrative arts, his craftsmanship has been in demand by the likes of George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg his entire career. His extraordinary works are immediately recognized by generations young and old. Thank you Drew Struzan for touching our heart, mind and soul through your exquisite artistry over the years. Your timeless artworks will be treasured a lifetime by so many.

    Reply

  2. Denise Houk

    January 29, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Your work is so inspiring. I have always loved it. I also really liked learning more about you in the movie drewstruzandocumentary.com/‎ I paint and do photography and have learned a lot from your work.

    Reply

  3. Jamie Eason

    February 3, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    He is without a doubt the finest illustrator in the world today. The films that he has created art for speak for themselves. It’s a shame that there are not more artists working in the Hollywood movie industry today, as they are sorely needed.

    Reply