The Making of 7 Iconic Movie Posters

The design inspiration for Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Do The Right Thing, and more.

The Academy
Jul 13, 2016 · 10 min read

A Hand-Crafted “Strange Brew”

“The Strange Brew poster was actually a painting,” he says. “There was much more use of illustration in the ‘pre-digital’ days.”

The process to get the unique look was laborious.

The Hunt For A “Jurassic Park” Logo

The original poster for Jurassic Park

“I worked with a couple different vendors — we came up with a big book of logos and the studio didn’t like anything in particular. Hundreds of logos,” Martin explained.

From the big book of Jurassic Park logos created for the film that went unused
The dinosaur graphic from the book cover created by Chip Kidd

An All-Star Search For A “Schindler’s List” Design

“It was one of the high points of my career,” Martin says. “I was in a meeting at a sound studio and it was Saul Bass, Steven Spielberg, and myself, in a room, looking at Saul’s poster.”

Even though Bass was well established at that point in his career he still fought for his ideas and pitched his posters to Spielberg with as much conviction as anyone.

The two posters designed by Saul Bass that were not selected as the official poster for the film

“Twins”-piration

“We presented the three poster series and people cracked up,” says Martin. “It instantly captured the essence of the film in the simplest, least amount of words and pictures. The whole campaign was three posters, scattered billboards all over the country. It was one of the few print advertising campaigns that got written about and positively reviewed.”

The creative flow didn’t end there

“Do The Right Thing” In The Valley

In total Martin designed the posters for four Spike Lee films over the years

“The image for ‘Jungle Fever’ is actually based on a photo series of an interracial couple that I recalled from a ‘60s magazine called Eros — it got the publisher, Ralph Ginzberg, convicted of obscenity at the time,” says Martin.

“We got permission from the photographer to recreate the shot for the poster. The man’s hand in the poster is actor Djimon Hounsou who was modeling at the time. Djimon went on to become an actor and star in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, which I also designed the poster for.”

A Visit To “Babe”

“That was like a sleeper hit,” Martin says of the eventual Academy Award Best Picture nominee. “I was at the studio at the time and nobody paid much attention to it because they thought it was a silly children’s film, I don’t think they got it.”

But Martin had a history with the film’s director, George Miller, having worked with him previously on Lorenzo’s Oil.

Sketching An Eddie Murphy Comedy Classic


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A conversation about the power of movies