Commentary: Neil Kellerhouse & Poster design

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As a self-confessed film poster enthusiast I never fail to be disappointed by the formula approach to posters that seems to be currently in vogue. Every genre has a particular vernacular with a default set of typefaces and Photoshop retouch action. Given the box office on franchises such as Marvel Cinematic Universe this approach is clearly not damaging audience figures but it just seems a shame for creativity. When you look back to the past and see the bona fide works of art that have been produced in support of cinema and then you look at the efforts of our time, most of our contemporary output seem rather banale.

I don’t know where I found out about Neil Kellerhouse first. It could have been online, could have been at my local video shop, either way I am not sure but I do remember that it was his work for the Criterion release of Paris, Texasthat first caught my eye. The  artwork was created by manipulating found type in a real environment and the result captured the essence of the film without making any direct references other than title and director name.

This fresh approach led me to check out more of his work which, it turned out, was incredibly varied but equally as inspirational. It was straight away evident that here was someone creating a niche for themselves within the modern studio system but outside of studio formula. Each of his pieces services its parent film perfectly but also can stand alone as an artwork in its own right.

Indeed, he was responsible for the poster for one of my favourite pieces of poster art in recent years: Jonathan Glazer’s existential Scottish sci-fi oddity Under The Skin. Whilst the film itself was perhaps a little disappointing the poster was, and is, fantastic. Again, it represents the film perfectly and stands alone as a beautifully constructed piece but it also seems to reference some of the great sci-fi posters. In particular, I felt that it was referencing Bob Peak‘s work for Star Trek. I did mention that to Neil directly and, interestingly, he wasn’t so sure. But he was still kind enough to give the following exclusive insight into his work.