Monday, February 11, 2008

John Alvin 1948 – 2008

I was alerted to the unexpected death of this brilliant poster artist by Ain’t It Cool News. It’s surprising no one picked up on this story earlier – he passed away, apparently, almost a week ago.

Along with Saul Bass and Drew Struzan, it’s safe to say that Alvin completed the trifecta of the most influential poster artists of the last half-century - He had a style of his own, and you can see myriad pale imitations of his work in poster art today. From Wikipedia:

Alvin, and the images he created for his films, often played a key role in the succcess of a film. John Sabel, the executive vice president of creative print advertising at Walt Disney Pictures, who often worked with Alvin, told the Los Angeles Times that, "There was a reason why The Lion King did the numbers that it did... There was a reason why 'Hunchback [of Notre Dame]' became a big success. It's because of the images that were produced, and a lot of those were John Alvin's paintings."

I am particularly saddened by his passing. He was responsible for two of the greatest movie posters of the Spielberg canon: E.T. and The Colour Purple. It’s impossible to think of those two great movies without automatically referencing Alvin’s incredible one-sheets.

Tributes to the great man by fellow artists and fans can be found here. And you can see some of his work here.