Aug 27, 2013

Book Review: The Art of Drew Struzan

When I had received my review copies from Titan Books, I saw that they had sent me two Drew Struzan books. I had initially planned on rolling both books into one single review, as I had assumed that they would be basically the same. After spending some time going through them, I could not have been more wrong.

The Art of Drew Struzan eschews the traditional collection of finished work and instead, invites you into Drew’s world as a professional artist. Drew Struzan has been a Hollywood staple for decades and is responsible for most of the iconic movie posters that came out of the 80s and 90s. If you do not recognize his name, then you certainly would recognize the posters that he created for Back to the Future, Indiana Jones and The Harry Potter series, just to name a few.

The book is presented as a series of visual shorts stories in a way. Each iconic poster is not only shown in its finished incarnation, but all the support sketches and process paintings are shown as well. This gives us a great insight into the process and sheer amount of work that goes into the creation of each finished poster. Drew’s sketches are suburb and even in the rough strokes they perfectly capture the likenesses of the Hollywood stars that he is portraying. This is then supplemented by a mutli paragraph descriptions around the process meetings with the director and any interesting facts around the creation of the paintings.

Being able to see inside Drew’s world is fascinating but at times depressing. It is unfortunate to see an artist that by all accounts would be considered a modern master, being constantly pushed around and undervalued by Hollywood until his eventual retirement due to frustration in 2008. While directors such as George Lucas and Guillermo del Toro fawn over Drew and his work, they are ultimately overruled when studio execs decides that they do not want to use Drew's poster because is “Looks too much like art”. In the end, I was quite pleased that the publisher chose to include such candidness into the stories.

For some people, The Art of Drew Struzan will function as just another art coffee table book, and for that reason alone, it is well worth owning. For artists, this book is a must have. To see behind the veil of a modern master and into not only his visual processes but his mental as well, is invaluable to all working artists out there. So see how Drew problem solves and make changes in a pre-digital world, gives me new insight and respect into his work. I have to say that this has immediately become one of the most prized art books that I own.