‘The Art of John Alvin’ celebrates the brilliant artist behind the most iconic movie posters

Published 9:44 am Friday, September 12, 2014

by Lauren Bradshaw

When you think about movie posters, the first images that come to mind were probably all created by the same brilliant artist, John Alvin. From “Jurassic Park,” to “The Lion King,” Alvin’s work on more than 135 films has proved to not only be an incredible marketing tool for Hollywood, but has added to a film’s long-lasting mark in pop culture. After all, who would Dawson Leery be without John Alvin’s posters hanging over his bed? As a constant collaborator with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas on many of their biggest films, I dare you to go to Comic Con and not find a T-shirt with a variation of Alvin’s art (e.g. the iconic Star Wars vertical lightsaber).

With this new book, “The Art of John Alvin,” created by his widow Andrea, it is finally time for Mr. Alvin to assume his place at the forefront of Hollywood history as we celebrate his wonderful life, career and talent. Throughout the beautiful hardcover, Andrea has highlighted some of her late husband’s most iconic work, along with previously unseen sketches and comprehensives that show his artistic process. You are able to investigate how Alvin got to the final images we know and love today and also see some bonus poster variants that will bring up many interesting thoughts. Could there be some you like more than the final image? Andrea’s insightful behind-the-scenes stories/trivia facts about each film and descriptions of the various images are the icing on an already delicious cake.

With such incredible imagery, “The Art of John Alvin” is a perfect coffee table picture book to showcase in your house. After all, who doesn’t love movies? Because Alvin’s art correlates with many of the most popular films of all time, the book will spark conversations with guests about their own experiences with the featured films.

As Jeffrey Katzenberg writes in the foreword of the book, “Somehow, John was able to capture the emotion of an entire movie in a single image.”

How true! Just look at the poster for “E.T.,” Alvin is able to capture the emotions of an entire film through one movie poster. Not only that, his art is timeless and has the ability to elicit serious feelings of nostalgia, especially if your favorite movie was lucky enough to have him work on it.

“The Art of John Alvin” is the perfect way to celebrate a man’s life and work. Alvin’s art changed the film industry, making movie posters more about imaginative art, which in turn led to an increase in public attention/excitement and thus more *bang* for the studio’s marketing buck.

While there has been an unfortunate drop off in creative movie posters over the last decade, thanks to such amazing outlets as Mondo, the art of the movie poster is slowly coming back into fashion, most assuredly inspired by the work of John Alvin.

My Review: A

LAUREN BRADSHAW grew up in Courtland, graduated from Southampton Academy and doubled-majored in foreign affairs and history at the University of Virginia. She lives in the Washington, D.C., and can be reached at lnb5e@virginia.edu.