Alternative Movie Posters: Take a Break with Underground Art

If you’re need of a Friday pick-me up, this publication might give your weary designing mind a jolt. Alternative Movie Posters by Matthew Chojnacki (Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.) is a collection of, you guessed it, movie posters. With work created by 100+ artists, there is a wide variety of approaches and styles, and all of the posters were created for film festivals, cult cinema showings (such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show) or as personal projects.

In other words, they’re often labors of love created by fans or designers that just couldn’t resist taking a crack at showing off how they’d market a particular flick. As Chojnacki, a freelance writer and film/music historian explains, “The only requirement for posters in the book is that they couldn’t be the official posters used in movie studio campaigns.” Thus, making these “alternative” versions. Chojnacki answered a few questions about his book and the designers featured in it for us.

FINAL COVER ART - Steven Dressler

Alternative Movie Posters cover


Don’t forget to vote for your favorite poster design to pick the winner of HOW’s Poster Design Awards.

Why a book about alternative movie posters?
MC: I love movies, and I love design.  This is the best of both worlds!  I used to be a big collector of film posters (through the mid-’90s), and at about that time the mainstream studios veered off course, increasingly focusing on enhanced celebrity head shots in their marketing campaigns instead of using eye-popping imagery that previously grace one-sheets.

Luckily, a small network of underground artists and designers literally took matters into their own hands, crafting their own one-sheets for their favorite films the past five years or so.  The results are stunning, with these unofficial posters far exceeding the quality of mainstream theatrical film imagery.  The collectors market has flipped as well, with these posters being in much more demand than any of the original mainstream imagery emanating from film studios.

Requiem for a Dream - Simon C Page

Simon C. Page, “Requiem for a Dream”


Jason Munn, “Bonnie and Clyde”

What did these books do for the movie industry?
MC: The book is partially meant to showcase great film artwork, but also includes contact information for each of the artists.  My hope is that the industry will take note of these new and up-and-coming designers and will reach out with freelance opportunities.  A few already have!  Rowan Stocks-Moore (“Bambi”), for example, has secured a deal with Penguin books recreating book covers for the publisher.  He also was contacted by Disney for freelancing.

 How did the movie industry respond to them?
MC: In general, many filmmakers don’t have as much say as they would like with their films’ marketing campaigns.  The filmmakers are often really appreciative of these alternative takes on their films.  Quentin Tarantino, for example, reached out to one of the artists (Federico Mancosu) and used his artwork as the basis for the Django Unchained teaser poster campaign.  Mancosu simply posted one of his posters to Tarantino’s Facebook wall, and Tarantino reached out a few days later.  Social media is really giving underground artists opportunities like never before — without agents and gallery support.

Basic CMYK

Travis Price, “Rushmore”

What are some of your favorites?
MC: As a big fan of comic books, “Mad” magazine, and hand-drawn film posters of the ’70s and ’80s (see “Animal House,” “National Lampoon’s Vacation”), I have a soft spot for this style of imagery.  Notable designers here include Ghoulish Gary Pullin, Anthony Petrie, Tim Doyle, and Travis Price. But I also love minimalist design as well.  Artists really nailing this style are Viktor Hertz, Mark Welser, Simon C. Page and Jason Munn.

Chojnacki points out that the artists in this book are “bringing ‘the art’ back to the one-sheet!” What films would you take a crack at re-imagining their posters?


HOW Poster Design Awards: We want your opinion
It’s up to readers like you to choose the poster that should be chosen as the winner out of the top 10 in the HOW Poster Design Awards. You can vote once a day, but make sure you hurry because the voting will close on midnight on Monday, January 27. Hint: To view the posters, click on the first one, which will enlarge it and allow you to then read about the design and page through to look at all 10.