Remember those Saul Bass movie posters from many decades ago? A lost art, maybe. Many of today’s poster follow the same formula. Giant celebrity heads. Or maybe just a collage of celebrities. Or the best of both worlds — at least one dominant image of celebrities with a secondary set of celebrity photos. So because we miss the days of Saul, we asked eight illustrators to reimagine some of this summer’s biggest films.
“Central Intelligence” illustrated by Sam Island
For “Central Intelligence,” Toronto-based artist Sam Island spotlighted Kevin Hart’s character, Calvin, who plays the straight man to Dwayne Johnson’s Bob, a super spy who draws Calvin into the world of international espionage.
“I wanted to focus on Kevin Hart’s character the most,” Island said. “I wanted to show in a simple way that this is an action/comedy film and Kevin is very reluctant to be involved. And also play with the size difference between the two stars.”
“Ghostbusters” illustrated by Molly Stanard
Maryland artist Molly Stanard is reserving judgment on the new all-female “Ghostbusters,” starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones until it’s out in theaters.
“It looks really weird, but if you remember the original, weird is ideal,” she said.
For her movie poster, Stanard decided to go for moody and atmospheric.“With movie posters, I want to draw something that they don’t do photo shoots for,” she said. “Lots of posters are big, sexy portraits.”
“Star Trek Beyond” illustrated by Martin Gee
New York illustrator Martin Gee’s dream assignment would have been to create a movie poster for “Star Wars.” But this assignment was for “Star Trek Beyond,” the third installment in J.J. Abrams’s rebooted sci-fi saga, and Gee gladly accepted. Gee grew up watching the original “Star Trek,” as well as the animated series, and always loved the transporter in concept and design.
“This is an homage to that and ‘Star Trek’s’ diverse characters and casting. Why is Sulu front and center? Check out #StarringJohnCho,” he said.
“Swiss Army Man” illustrated by Joe Wilson
After reading reviews of “Swiss Army Man” that suggested the movie was largely a fart comedy, U.K. artist Joe Wilson envisioned for his poster an “explosively farting Daniel Radcliffe flying across the center” of his piece. But upon further reflection, Wilson, who works in pencil, ink and digital color, decided to go with something simpler.
“My piece heroes the two main characters, played by Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, and I used their forms to create the forest aspect,” he said.
“Sausage Party” illustrated by Andrey Kasay
Russian illustrator Andrey Kasay’s work has been described as “a bit like ‘Cartoon Network’ on psychedelics.”
His poster for “Sausage Party,” an adult animated comedy starring Seth Rogen as a randy hot dog and Kristen Wiig as a bun, follows that formula, but with a twist: Kasay used his own kitchen as a stage for his poster.
“This is usually how it looks,” he said with a laugh.
“The Purge: Election Year” illustrated by Ulla Puggaard
For the science-fiction thriller “The Purge: Election Day Year,” Danish illustrator Ulla Puggaard found inspiration in an old movie poster by famed artist Saul Bass.
“I do really like the old Alfred Hitchcock poster for ‘Vertigo,’ ” she said. “I like the strong graphic approach.”
She added, “I decided to use ink — my preferred medium — as it suits the title.”
“Finding Dory” illustrated by Patrik Svensson
Swedish illustrator Patrik Svensson watched the trailer several times before embarking on his poster for the “Finding Nemo” animated sequel “Finding Dory,” which isn’t screening in his country until August.
“As the movie is playful in itself, I wanted the poster to reflect that without being too obvious,” he said, adding that movie posters, or any kind of cover art, “work when they add something to the movie rather than just telling me what it’s called and who’s in it.”
“Suicide Squad” illustrated by Cristiano Siqueira
Brazilian artist Cristiano Siqueira is eager to see Jared Leto as the Joker in “Suicide Squad,” about a band of imprisoned DC Comics villains on a high-risk mission. So for his poster, he chose to focus on that character.
“I wanted to do an alternative portrait of the Joker,” he said. “He is not actually part of the Suicide Squad itself, but his presence in the movie is very expected. Many say that this version of the Joker will be the craziest ever.”
In the trailer, you can hear the Joker’s sinister laugh as the other villains approach. “I wanted to bring this situation to the poster, by drawing the Joker’s mouth in a schizophrenic laugh,” Siqueira said. “The representation of the sound of the laugh is done by the graphical ‘Ha Ha Ha’s’, doing a direct reference to the comics.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that the movie “Sausage Party” is a Pixar film. The movie was produced by Columbia Pictures.