Artists Drew Struzan and Bob Peak: Hollywood’s poster boys
Artists Drew Struzan and the late Bob Peak may not be household names, but their movie posters have graced the walls of museums and galleries as well as countless homes and college dorm rooms.
Struzan’s more than 150 posters include ones for “Blade Runner,” “E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial,” the “Star Wars” franchise since the 1978 re-release poster, the four “Indiana Jones” films, the “Back to the Future” trilogy, “Hellboy,” “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “The Shawshank Redemption” and the AMC series “The Walking Dead.”
Over the years he’s been a favorite of directors George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Frank Darabont and Guillermo del Toro.
Peak, who died in 1992, created the movie posters for more than 100 films, including “My Fair Lady,” “Funny Girl,” the first five “Star Trek” movies, “Superman” and “Apocalypse Now.”
A selection of their movie work as well as examples of their fine art are on exhibition at the Forest Lawn Museum at Forest Lawn-Glendale. “Drew & Bob: The Masters of Movie Art: The Illustrations of Fine Art of Drew Struzan and Bob Peak” continues free through May 26.
Joan Adan, the director of the museum, had previously met Struzan when she included some of his paintings of animals for an exhibition. She became acquainted with Peak’s art through a conversation with his son, Tom Peak.
“I thought the combination of the two great masters would be really wonderful, and they have never exhibited before,” Adan said.
Struzan was a struggling artist with a wife and young daughter when he began designing covers for albums. After a few years, he was approached by a movie studio about bringing his artistry to film posters. His first film poster was for the long-forgotten 1975 George Segal comedy “The Black Bird.”
He got his first break when he was hired by Lucas to do the re-release poster for the 1977 blockbuster “Star Wars.”
“George [Lucas] wanted to be an illustrator,” Struzan said. “He loves paintings. He wants to use illustrations because they reach the heart, whereas photographs just don’t do it for him. Frank Darabont is a collector of my work, so whenever he has a movie he wants me to do the poster. I have worked with Steven Spielberg since ‘E.T.’ We are the same age [both were born in 1946], and we have gotten along the whole time. That’s part of it, being at the right place at the right time.”
Creating the posters is a collaborative effort, Struzan said. For Spielberg’s “Hook,” he read the script, visited the set and “worked with Steven on the whole idea.”
In the case of Del Toro, the filmmaker came to Struzan’s house to discuss ideas for “Hellboy.”
“He was ready to tell me his concept,” Struzan recalled. “I said, ‘Let me show me you mine first.’ So I did this little sketch. It took about 30 seconds and he goes, ‘Perfect, do it.’ All the work we did together was that one little meeting in my studio.”
Before he began illustrating posters, Peak was “reinventing advertising in the ‘50s and ‘60s. His work was so colorful,” according to his son.
His innovations came to the attention of Hollywood. After designing a poster for a 1959 Russian film, Peak was hired to illustrate the poster for 1961 Oscar-winning best film “West Side Story.
Tom Peak recalled his father telling him about his visits to the set of 1964 Oscar-wining best picture winner “My Fair Lady” with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.
“Rex Harrison had a pretty big ego, and he was supposed to be the center of the movie [poster],” said Peak, who wrote “The Art of Bob Peak.”
“My dad went back to the studio and ended up putting Audrey Hepburn in the middle and Rex Harrison was over her shoulder. He made sure though that he put a hat on him so at least his head was bigger than hers.”
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