I was an illustration major in college at Parsons School of Design. While my education in drawing and painting was invaluable, I quickly discovered that this century is not an ideal time to be a professional illustrator. From the dawn of cinema through roughly the eighties, illustration lied at the heart of film promotion. Legendary illustrators like Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo created lush, gorgeous oil paintings for film and television. Simply put, their movie posters were works of art.
Then came the Photoshop era. Movie studios realized they could save tons of time and money by lazily slapping a couple stars‘ heads on a poster. Instead of telling you what a movie was about with a visually enticing painting, movie posters focused on merely telling you that Tom Hanks is gonna show up. This is generally the kind of poster you’ll see on the subway platform nowadays. These posters seem to say, “You like Tom Hanks, right? What more do you need to know, dummy?”
I was happy to see the poster for the Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (below). The poster deliberately hearkens back to 80’s-style movie poster illustrations. It could be a painting or a Photoshopped emulation of one; whatever the medium, it’s nice to see a colorful, painterly poster that’s evocative of an era when handmade illustration was central to film promotion.
Hopefully illustration will come back into vogue in a major way someday soon – the world just looks better with more drawings and paintings in it.