Mondo / Alamo Draft House
Shepard Fairey poster salutes They Live!
The Texas artist who created "gig posters" for White Stripe concerts had an idea six years ago: why not make new posters about old movies? Recruiting creative-minded colleagues, Rob Jones and his team re-imagined Planet of the Apes and Repo Man for Austin's Alamo Road House touring show, which then sold limited edition prints at screnings around the country.
Thus was born a booming cottage industry that helps film-loving artists pay the rent while giving hard core movie fans a chance to revisit old favorites like Star Wars, Inglorious Basterds, or 1979 horror satire They Live!, which was recently re-pictured in a grippiing graphic by Shepard Fairey.
While Mondo thrives online, selling out most of its silk-screened prints within a few hours, Los Angeles' 1988 gallery hawks movie-inspired mash-ups from the comfort of its storefront exhibition space. Four years ago, the gallery launched a B movie love fest called Crazy 4 Cult. This month, Titan Books's Crazy 4 Cult: Cult Movie Art collects posters inspired by such films as The Big Lebowski, Edward Scissorhands, Blade Runner, Donnie Darko, Clockwork Orange.
Why the explosion of non-official film graphics? Mondo curator Justin Ishmael believes moviegoers are tired of literal-minded marketing. He says, "If you see a poster where it's two dudes standing there looking tough you go, 'really?' People have lost interest in unimaginative posters."
Second-generation movie posters dare to be conceptual, in a way that harkens to Saul Bass' iconic designs for Psycho and other Alfred Hitchcock flicks. Instead of relying on celebrities to get folks into theaters, fan-driven poster art gives designers free rein to condense a film's theme into one striking image - without interference from studio suits. Ishmael says, "We don't have the pressure of dealing with studio executives and producers saying 'Make it look more like the poster from Saw..'"
The eye-popping results suggest that Hollywood might do well to fire the focus groups and let designers run amuck.