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: