LUV (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) CD releases today Via Lakeshore Records
John Godfrey is the acclaimed graphic designer who created the amazing alternative movie posters for our LUV art print giveaway; LUV is now available On Demand and on DVD (order on Amazon). John kindly sat down with us to discuss his work and theory. Enjoy!
What is the first movie poster you recall seeing?
I remember noticing posters such as Back to the Future Part II, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and the Ghostbusters “no ghosts” logo on posters when I was 6 years old. These were films I was too young to see, so the posters illustrated this amazing fantasy world which, at that age, I probably wasn’t 100% certain was fiction. The posters did an excellent job of encapsulating adventure and intrigue on a 27×40” piece of paper. They got me excited. The way words were stylized into logos appealed to me and I had an affinity for how text was tightly packed in billing blocks. Noticing movie posters at a young age got me interested in graphic design. I feel lucky to work in a field that I’ve had an appreciation of for so long.
Who are your artistic influences?
I find artistic influences in everyday life. When you’re having a hard time coming up with a graphic solution, it’s often nagging at the back of your head at all hours. This makes you see the world through a different lens. Seeing an uncommon tile pattern on the floor might be the inspiration for an image grid on a poster, or the stacked arrangement of various pots and pans at a store might provide inspiration for typographic hierarchy. There are many artists and designers out there that influence me, from the decorative paintings of Gustav Klimt’s Golden Phase to the Drew Struzan movie posters that I admired ever since I was a child, to the innovative design works of Milton Glaser’s Push Pin Studios and Saul Bass.
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Did you consult with Sheldon Candis on the movie poster designs, or did he give you free reign over the concepts?
I’ve worked with Sheldon many times before and we’ve developed a great working relationship. As a creative thinker and artist himself, Sheldon understands that everyone sees the world differently. He is always open to seeing new creative interpretations based on those unique visions. I had free reign over the art and Sheldon was immediately a fan of the initial concept. We worked on fine tuning aspects of the poster together until we were both happy with the result.
There were many moments in LUV. How did you arrive at the crab motif?
I greatly admire the film posters that came out of Poland during the Communist era. The country didn’t have access to the promotional material of Hollywood marketing departments, so artists were hired to create alternative poster art. Many times the art produced was highly conceptual , exploring themes and feelings from the film as opposed to a more direct approach. The resulting posters were like artwork from a gallery that just happened to have actors names and a title on it.
When it came to the poster for LUV, I wanted to take a similar approach and explore themes from the film. LUV revolves around young Woody being introduced to a world of violence through his uncle. From my first time viewing the film I recognized a lot of symbolism involving crabs. For instance, Vincent’s need for cash to open a crab shack is what propels the duo into the violent events of the film. There’s a scene of Vincent teaching Woody how to eat crabs — an act which seems violent in itself, tearing the creature limb from limb, which parallels what Woody has witnessed with his uncle that day. “Crabs in the bucket” is also a term that describes an “if I can’t have it, neither can you” way of thinking, referring to the way crabs fight each other to get out of a cooking pot, pulling each other down, instead of working together to get out. This parallels the mentality of gangs present in the film. The crab on the poster has the back of Woody’s head on its shell, and it appears to be gathering bullet shell casings, which can be construed as Woody absorbing knowledge of the violent world around him.
The aesthetic of the poster art has a vintage vibe; was that intentional? Is the illustration digital or do you work by hand as well?
The posters are 100% digital, though I occasionally work with hand-drawn elements including lettering. I frequently take reference photographs, such as the bullet casings in this poster. The vintage vibe comes from the distressed feeling of the poster, which I used to reflect the gritty environments and situations Woody and Vincent find themselves in. The posters feel photocopied — very lo-fi, like something you might find on the very streets our protagonist finds himself walking. The cast poster harkens back to the vintage days of painted key art, and is inspired by the portraits hanging in Fish’s house in the film.
What are you working on next?
My business partner and myself at Chargefield are currently working on visual effects, motion graphics, titles and the poster design of the upcoming Fox Digital Studio project, Mono. We’re also particularly excited about a feature film we have involvement in on the producing side of things as well as visual effects and marketing, running the gamut of what we do best. It’s currently in the financing and early casting stage, so I hope to share more about it very soon on Facebook!
Want your own copy of the limited edition art prints designed by John Godfrey? Leave a comment below or Tweet us! Hurry: while supplies last.