This was my college assignment back when I was in college. The assignment was to research and create a retrospective of an artist or a graphic designer. And when I was looking for an artist to choose, I came across with Drew Struzan. I never heard of him till then. And that’s when I found out that he was the person who created those beautiful movie posters we’ve all seen.
Drew Struzan is one the most famous and collected artists in the world, a true master in the field of cinema art, with private collections owned by George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, former Disney Chairman Michael Eisner and several other notable collectors.
He was born in Portland, Origon, USA in March 1947. He was born a child prodigy with the talent and skills in art.
He talks about his success in his own words: “I was poor and hungry, and illustration was the shortest path to a slice of bread, as compared to a gallery showing. I had nothing as a child. I drew on toilet paper with pencils — that was the only paper around. Probably why I love drawing so much today is because it was just all I had at the time.”
In his career, expanding over 4 decades, he became one of the most known poster artists in the world. Some of his most famous works include Indiana Jones, Blade Runner, Harry Potter, Star Wars trilogy and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Back to the Future, Hook, Cutthroat Island, Muppet Caper, Masters of the Universe and many more.
Below I included some of his most famous works.
1. The Muppet Movie
The movie was released in 1979. The Muppet Movie is the first of a series of musical films featuring Muppets. The film is a movie within a movie as we see the muppets gathering together for the screening of “The Muppet Movie”.
Struzan’s first trip to New York City was to work on The Muppet Movie. He met with Frank Oz and they had a photo session with Piggy and Kermit. Struzan said: “It was the greatest experience ever. It was like a dream, what you would want Hollywood to be.” From then on, Jim said, “Struzan was the only one he would allow to paint the Muppets while he was alive, because he made them look how he wanted, like real people.”
Released in 2009. Three kids get lost in the Louisiana bayou in search of a ghost pirate and his lost treasure, but what they discover is true friendship and the adventure of a lifetime.
3. Star Wars: Revenge of the Jedi
Star Wars: Revenge of the Jedi was released in 1983, and it’s the third film released in the Star Wars Saga. The film was directed by Richard Marquand and written by George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan. And the film grossed over $475 million worldwide.
4. Return to Oz / Mombi
Released in 1985. The movie is based loosely on the books Ozma of Oz and The Marvelous Land of Oz. The film was thought by many to be a sequel to the classic 1939 film, to which it bears little resemblence. It has since become a cult classic.
5. Star wars: Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith Vader
Released in 2005. The film was nominated for the Best Achievement in Makeup. Written and directed by George Lucas, the film is the third of the Star Wars series.
6. The Thing
The Thing is a 1982 science fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter, written by Bill Lancaster, and starring Kurt Russell, a remake of the 1951 Howard Hawk Christian Nyby film The Thing from Another World.
“This one was an extreme case, that John Carpenter remake” – recalls Struzan. “They called me on the phone and said, “We’re re-doing The Thing. It’s the same story as the first movie, more or less. So send us a drawing.” Although he didn’t see anything on the movie, didn’t read the script, didn’t see the stills, and had nothing to go on, it took him only one day and one night to do the whole project. Amazing.
7. Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a 1984 adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. It is the second film in the Indiana Jones franchise and prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
Drew Struzan did all four Indy movies and that was probably this was favourite one. With Temple of Doom, someone else did the initial poster and they weren’t happy with the way the film opened. So they contacted Struzan, he did one drawing, sent it north to George Lucas and he said, “Perfect, paint it.” Probably within a week after the movie opened, they had a new poster. After that, in George and Steven Spielberg’s mind, he became the Indy artist.
8. Indiana Jones: The last Crusade
Released in 1989, directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Harrison Ford and Sean Connery – this is one of the Indiana Jones series.
9. Indiana Jones: The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
10. Batteries Not Included
A demon, raised from infancy after being conjured by and rescued from the Nazis, grows up to become a defender against the forces of darkness. Released in 2004.
12. Hellboy II The Golden Army
Released in 2008. This is the second film of Hellboy series.
13. First Blood
Since its release, First Blood has been a critical and commercial success, and has had a lasting influence on the genre. It has also spurred countless parodies.
Not only the film but also the poster artwork. Drew’s envisioning Stallone (Rambo) as “the” iconic figure was not only a success but spurred countless imitations of the “hero with big gun” through the years.
14. The Flintstones
On Hook they still didn’t have the poster for it but the movie was already out. They had done an advance poster which was just a hook, and that’s what they used to open the movie. Once Struzan drew the poster it came out a week or so after the film.
Struzan recalls: “Robin Williams loved his portrait. Dustin Hoffman didn’t. So I go to his house and he comes to the door in his bathrobe and he has a half gallon of ice cream in his hand. I go in and he just starts acting for me. “This is the kind of face I want on the poster.”
16. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
Released by Universal Studios, E.T. was a blockbuster, surpassing Star Wars to become the most financially successful film released to that point. Critics acclaimed it as a timeless story of friendship, and it ranks as the best science fiction film ever made in a Rotten Tomatoes survey. The film was re-released in 1985, and then again in 2002 with altered special effects and additional scenes. Spielberg believes E.T. epitomizes his work.
17. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
18. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
He was asked to draw the first Harry Potter movie poster and they would say that they would repeat the design and look of the poster for all the next 6 series of Harry Potter movies. But when the second one came out they decided to just use photography.
19. Star Wars Episode I / The Phantom Menace
20. Back to the Future
They went through a lot of original drawings for the first movie until Steven Spielberg was pleased. For the second one, they went through 30 or 40 ideas and they couldn’t make up their minds for a long time. Finally, they said, let’s just repeat the pose from the first one. It’s never easy in Hollywood.