Design / Inspiration


Remembering John Alvin: 30 years of Movie Icons

Before I really knew what graphic design was, I remember being absolutely captivated by the poster art theaters framed in glass on both sides of the ticket booth.

I didn’t know any­thing about layout, typog­ra­phy or color theory, but I knew what I was drawn to. To me, that’s the best part about poster design. Its not about theory or intel­lec­tual study. Its all about being more mem­o­rable than anyone else. Of course, all the best posters had plenty of theory and mas­tery behind them, but beyond all the craft and intel­lect, some simply shine above all the others. There’s like pop songs. You can be an expert musi­cian with a master’s degree in music theory, but chances are you’ll never write any­thing half as catchy as Stayin’ Alive.

I found out years later, that a lot of the posters I’d loved as a kid were the work of John Alvin. His posters don’t have much of a sig­na­ture. There’s no con­sis­tent type style, no repeated color choices, no dom­i­nate layout. It looks like he simply look at the movie, con­sid­ered the audi­ence, and designed a poster that would make them want to see the movie. It’s pretty obvi­ous he was an absolute natural.

John Alvin died ear­lier this year with­out a lot of pub­lic­ity. He wasn’t a movie star, or even a well know designer, but at the end of the day, he made a more last­ing impact on the movie’s than many of the people that acted in them. I also under­stand he was quite a family man and a great guy to work with. I always love to hear that.

A few of my favorite John Alvin icons:

» See A Com­plete Col­lec­tion of Mr. Alvin’s Work Here

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