James Jean: Making Movie Posters an Art Form

For the past few years, one of my favorite artists has been James Jean.  I discovered him on Instagram (as I do with a lot of creators), and was immediately mesmerized.  I am often attracted to painters that leave me wondering how on earth they have created their work, and Jean definitely left me in that state.  His work often consists of surreal, fantastical beings, landscapes, and creatures that are meticulously detailed and unlike anything I’ve seen before.

This past year Jean has done a lot of movie “posters”.  These are no average movie posters though. Each poster looks like it could stand alone as a piece of fine art.  He created art for Blade Runner: 2020, Mother!, and even best picture winner The Shape of Water.  I enjoyed all three of these movies from a visual standpoint, so it was amazing to see Jean’s take on them.  He incorporates his own style into these works in a way that does not take away from the feel of the movie and still lets his own vision shine through.  I absolutely love his posters for the movie Mother! (even more than the movie, actually).  While I didn’t particularly enjoy the movie itself, theres no denying it had a beautiful look to it, and Jean does a great job of encapsulating that.  They are both extremely interesting in the way they juxtapose beauty and eeriness that ties with the movie so well: Jennifer Lawerence looking angelic but holding her own heart in her hand, and Javier Bardem sitting calmly in a chair while being engulfed by flames.  My favorite of the poster pieces is the Blade Runner one.  With the movie alone being visually stunning, one would wonder how Jean could do anything more.  But, with his piece he does.  I love the way he takes a distinct scene from the movie that one could very easily recognize but does it with a bit of a different set up and color scheme, as a way to make it more “fine art” like.

Jean’s movie posters are extraordinary and something I wish we saw in more advertising material for films.  Posters these days are often trite and cliche. James Jean adds new depth and character to the mundane artwork of movie posters of today.

(Image from vanityfair.com)

Maggie Abell

Maggie is a sophomore at Stamps School of Art and Design. She hopes to do a lot of things with her life ... at some point. She loves singing, movies, and most of all, her dog, Winifred.

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