Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Week 4: Drew Struzan

For this week, I decided to go with a piece from an illustrator who is more well-known. It is likely that even if you do not know Drew Struzan's name you have seen his work, as he is the man behind some pretty iconic illustrated movie posters (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Harry Potter being prime examples). However, I have never seen this piece, done for Pan's Labyrinth, outside of his gallery website, even though, according to the caption on the site, it was done for promotional purposes.

Stylistically, the piece seems to draw heavily on the organic motifs and more decorative backgrounds of Art Nouveau. In addition, the muted colors have a definite resemblance to Arthur Rackham's work, something that I think was intentional given who the illustration was for. In terms of style, it is definitely successful.

In terms of the content, I feel that this piece captures a main theme of the movie really well. I recall someone once saying that though the tasks that the faun gives to Ofelia are terrifying, they are less horrible than the other circumstances in her life. This illustration shows this perspective perfectly, as a distraught Ofelia seems to find comfort in the faun's magical world. What I find particularly interesting about this piece, and this may just be reading too much into it, is the faun's direct gaze at the viewer. There is something accusing in his expression, as if he holds the viewer responsible for Ofelia's grief.. if this was the artist's intent, it is intense and I love it. For this reason, this is my favorite Struzan piece, even if it didn't really see much use in promotional material.

For anyone interested in a trip down memory lane, see more of Drew Struzan's work at his site.


  1. Drew Struzan has an interesting painterly quality to the work he produces. I went over to his site just because, well the link was right there. I knew that he had a huge portfolio but was not expecting some of the movies I saw. Back To The Future, didn't expect that. And then there is the prices of the print; Holy Hell! He has done quite well for himself.

  2. I have his Episode I and III Star Wars posters in my living room, directly across from where I sit right now. From a distance they look nearly like photographs, but up close you can see the lines of the illustration and the variations in the shading, the things which make it an illustration and a true show of talent. I do love this piece as well, I feel the same weird intensity from the strange creature staring right at you. I also really like the colors, and the composition. This guy has a great eye for poster and promotional composition.

  3. Thank you for posting about him. I knew I head heard his name before but was unable to pin wherefrom. As it turns out... EVERYWHERE! I love how this work matches the aesthetic quality and mood of the actual film.

  4. Thanks for posting! I couldn't for the life of me remember his name. I first found out about the man behind the magic after watching a interview with him in his studio. The interview is in the special features of "The Mist" dvd. He did a cameo piece that appears in the beginning on the film that the main character is supposed to be painting before crap hits the fan.

    For years we've all seen his work and to me his style is the epitome of how movie posters should look. It amazes me how accurate his portrayal of movie characters are. His style reminds me of old sci-fi/fantasy book covers for some reason.