Of Celluloid Mice & Tumbled Soup Cans


Hot off the press! (Well, antique desk, to be accurate.) Just finished a poster for a screening of short films at Millennium Film Workshop. My wife Rachael curated the event, which will take place this Friday in New York City’s East Village (come one, come all!).

The films deal both directly and indirectly with pop culture icons and pop references, and are little gems of light on celluloid by a stellar cast of both seasoned and up-and-coming experimental filmmakers.

It was a lot of fun to work on the poster and being art-directed by my dear wife. It took a while to come up with the right idea, but after many, MANY meandering pencil scribbles and playing with different vague ironic concepts, I arrived at this:

Poster for a film screening at Millennium Film Workshop. Art Director: Rachael Guma.

The posters of Tomi Ungerer and the early, Harvey Kurtzman-era MAD Magazine were big influences for this poster, while the biggest source of inspiration was most likely George Lois’ immortal 1969 Esquire cover design with Andy Warhol and a Campbell’s soup can.

This is actually my second take on this idea: the first version featured the same cast of characters in a slightly different arrangement, and I decided that the initial preliminary drawing lacked the flow and rhythm I wanted to give the image. So I scrapped it and I started over, ending up with the piece you see here; which was painted in watercolor and finished off with colored inks and color pencils. Since I decided to work in the actual poster size (11″ x 17″) to have absolute certainty of what the piece would look like when printed, scanning the finished artwork into my standard letter-sized scanner proved tricky. It was scanned in four parts, which were joined together through a bit of Photoshop surgery. All the typesetting was done in Photoshop as well.

I’m usually torn between a graphic and a more painterly approach. Obviously, a graphic approach is better suited for posters. What’s particularly tricky about poster design is that the image has to be iconic and immediate. Unlike a magazine illustration or a book cover, the viewer doesn’t have much of a chance (or time, for that matter) to sit down and ponder its meaning, so the idea has to be crystal-clear at first glance. Whether I’ve succeeded in achieving that is not for me to judge (and, I might add, I used to be better at caricatures/portraits back in my art school days), but I did try to highlight some of the ironies of certain pop icons by using few visual elements and limiting my color choices.

In short, hopefully this poster is as irreverent and visceral as the films shown in the program, while celebrating the strange but wonderful world of pop culture. Hope you can make it, if you happen to be in or around New York…

3 thoughts on “Of Celluloid Mice & Tumbled Soup Cans

  1. Felicitations !!!!!!!! Le succès est énorme !!!!!! Un fuerte abrazo from Argentina !!!!!!

  2. Me encanta. Está muy bueno que aclares en que te inspiraste al dibujarla, sobretodo para los que no entendemos mucho al arte. Un abrazo grande!

  3. Fascinante tu página. Sobre todo desde una mirada crítica, que para mí es lo importante. Solo pensando un relato distinto al establecido, el mundo que muchos soñamos será posible. Un beso enorme.
    Estela Viotti

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