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Meet the artists

Each of our special edition Science Fiction BFI Film Classics features specially commissioned cover artwork. Read on to find out more about the cover artists, the concepts behind their designs and how these designs were created.

Akira | Alien | Brazil | Dr. Strangelove | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | Quatermass and the Pit | Solaris | The War of the Worlds

Samantha Holmlund

Akira

Akira

Your background
After completing my Foundation Diploma at Cleveland College of Art and design I moved to Cornwall to do BA Illustration at Falmouth University.


Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of Akira?
Compared to other animations of the time Akira had so much more detail, not just in the storytelling but also in the animation itself. The movements and angles were more dynamic and the colours were so striking. With my design I really wanted to use these techniques to capture the feel of the film.


What techniques and materials did you use to create your artwork?
To create the piece I sketched out my design in Photoshop and then used a number of different textures to create a more organic feel for the final piece.

What is your earliest film memory?
I think my earliest film memory is watching Flash Gordon (1980) on a constant loop.

What inspires you?
A lot of my inspiration comes from the style of Japanese woodblock prints but I am also very influenced by graphic novels.

What are you working on now?
Currently I am finishing my degree and I hope to start a career as a freelance illustrator.

www.samanthaholmlund.co.uk

Twitter: @SamHolmlund

Marta Lech

Alien

Your background
I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław where I studied in the Graphic Arts Department. I live and work in my hometown Wrocław, Poland.

Akira

Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of Alien?
I first selected all the elements from the movie that related to the emergence of the alien form of life. The
first version of the sketch included a sequence of white shapes on a black background that led to a body
of the alien. Outlines of moon, derelict, egg and a strange head emerged from dark space. But a final
project was reduced to the characteristic profile of an Alien suspended over the horizon. The technique
I used helped create a ambience of horror that was part of the appearance of an unknown creature.

The simple and dark image resembles a floating mysterious, sinister ghost as well as an X-ray photograph
of an organism subjected to scientific examination.

What techniques and materials did you use to create your artwork?
I use the technique of painting with bright pigment on black paper and have been working and experimenting with this method for years. Even though I am able to foresee its possibilities and limits to some degree,
the final effect is always surprising. Transparent and overlapping layers of ink form a complex pattern of
soft outlines and suggest an extraterrestrial context. They seemed perfect to illustrate both futuristic and organic
features of Giger's Alien.


What is your earliest film memory?
The Neverending Story (1984)


What inspires you?
Everything that surrounds me.

What are you working on now?
I am going to spend the next few weeks painting. I’m working on a set of large-scale canvases.


www.martalech.wordpress.com

Peter Strain

Brazil

Your background
I studied Visual Communication at The University of Ulster Belfast.
Since then I've been fortunate enough to be working as an illustrator for the past 4/5 years.

Brazil

Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of Brazil?
My idea is based around Sam’s early dream sequence, where buildings burst through and destroy the natural landscape, however I chose to utilise the image of a filing cabinet in place of the skyscraper. With this, I aimed to portray the theme of order and control, which can dehumanise the world.

The lower half of the image shows Sam in the 'real world' - it's dark and ominous, and the filing cabinet (The Ministry of Information) dwarves Sam (the individual).

The top half then gives us a glimpse of Sam’s 'dream world'. This time, the cabinet/building bursting through hints at how the system eventually erodes into Sam’s mind and turns him into his vegetated state.

What techniques and materials did you use to create your artwork?
I sketched out the initial idea with pencil and then drew each section individually. I then scanned it into photoshop, in which I added the colour and some hints of texture.


What is your earliest film memory?
I think it was going to see Beauty and the Beast in the cinema and being oddly attracted to the promiscuous duster…


What inspires you?
Found things - maybe an image, a song, a film or a conversation - just when a wee moment happens and sticks with you; whether it’s something you see or hear then that always ends up bleeding into the type of work you make and gives you an idea. I always try to write these down in my phone straight away - as easily as they come they can go.

What are you working on now?
At the moment I'm working on an ongoing exciting project with Film 4 & Print Club London.


www.peterstrain.co.uk

Twitter: @peter_strain

Marian Bantjes

Dr. Strangelove

Dr Strangelove

Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of Dr Strangelove?
Dr. Strangelove is an insane tale about the insanity of the Cold War. Stripped down to absolute simplicity it's about bombs pointing at each other, which is my main motif, with the madness of it represented in a maelstrom of all-out war.

What techniques and materials did you use to create your artwork?

As always I started with a pencil sketch; then this was created on the computer in Illustrator.

What is your earliest film memory?
think it may have been seeing Disney's Fantasia (1940), which I hated because it perverted the image I had in my head of very masculine, realistic centaurs and other mythic creatures. At some tender age already I was appalled that these beings were represented in pinks and blues; cute and infantilised


What are you working on now?
I'm working on an illustration in needlepoint using My Little Pony hair.

www.bantjes.com
Twitter: @bantjes

Patricia Derks

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Your backgroundEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
I graduated from the Art Academy Arendonk, Belgium and found my own way of painting – my artworks are the result of hours of research and I then pick up my brushes.

What techniques and materials did you use to create your artwork?

I am a collector of images and translate them into my own style using colour in an unusual way. The pieces are often swiftly painted in my favourite medium, oil paint, and always contain an element of surprise. The cover artwork is in my usual style and draws on the look of Kate Winslet’s character, Clementine.

What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on new pieces that will be exhibited over the next few months in France and the Netherlands.

www.patriciaderks.com

Nathanael Marsh

Quatermass and the Pit

Quatermass and the Pit

Your background
I trained in film and graphic design in Grimsby in the early 1990s and then specialised in electronic media at Staffordshire University. It was 50/50 whether I wanted to do something with film or with digital design and I opted for the latter; at the time they were two quite separate entities. I spent the next 15 years creating all manner of 2d and 3d design work for corporate projects and campaigns. More recently I’ve been focusing on animation, creating short films for clients which has helped bring my work back around to film again. I’ve always loved horror films, so a few years ago I started something more personal by designing film posters.


Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of Quatermass and the Pit?
In the film an otherworldly phenomenon has plagued the inhabitants of the area throughout history. I liked the idea that these manifestations had become part of the local folklore and reference to them could be found in surrounding signs and symbols. I used the stained glass window idea as a way of recounting the events of the film as if it was a form of archaic historic record. This also tied in with the film’s religious themes, the way that the apparitions were often referred to as devils, demons and ancient diabolical evil. The concentric circles were a nod to the original movie poster artwork.

What techniques and materials did you use to create your artwork?
This piece was created entirely digitally. I used a tablet to sketch out the design with the majority of the work being done in Illustrator and Photoshop using a 1999 ‘tangerine’ puck mouse. I’ve been taking some wide panoramic photos recently and like the way that the perspective distorts spherically. I used this concept to try and fit all of the design elements into a series of radiating circles.

What is your earliest film memory?
I remember being shocked at an early age watching a film called The Green Slime (1968). I think there was a scene where a door slid open and someone on the other side had been electrocuted by aliens and just fell through with a grimace frozen on their face - terrifying!


What inspires you?
Many things really. Strange patterns or textures in nature; interesting compositions of scenery; typography and old film posters. Music often sends my mind off into unexpected directions when working on concepts.


What are you working on now?
There are some new things coming up for Arrow Films and for Frightfest Originals.


www.nathanael.com

Matthew Shlian

Solaris

Solaris

Your background
Matthew Shlian is an artist/designer and founder of the Initiative Artist Studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His work extends from drawings to large scale installations to collaborations with leading scientists at the University of Michigan. His work for the National Science Foundation explores paper folding structures on the macro level translated to the nano-scale. His client list includes Ghostly International, Apple, P&G, Facebook, Levi’s, Sesame Street and the Queen of Jordan.


Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of Solaris?
I wanted the piece to reflect the surface of the planet; something uneasy and undulating- a feeling of tension.

What techniques and materials did you use to create your artwork?
The piece is designed on the computer and assembled from paper. It’s a combination of CAD and papercraft.


What is your earliest film memory?
When they pull the man’s heart out in Indiana Jones and everyone’s chanting ‘Onumshiba Onumshiba Onumshiba’.


What inspires you?
I find inspiration in just about everything; solar cell design, protein misfolding, Arabic tile patterning, systematic drawing, architecture, biomimetics, music etc. I have a unique way of misunderstanding the world that helps me see things easily overlooked.
People wise- I look to musicians, performers, writers, artists,
 producers… Brian Eno, Matthew Goulish and Goat Island,
 El-P, Daniel Libeskind, Dondi White, Christian Marclay, Ren Weschler,
 Buckminster Fuller, George Hrycun, Stephan Sagmeister, Edward R.
Tufte, Charles and Ray Eames, etc.


What are you working on now?
A few large installations and a grant from the National Science Foundation.

www.mattshlian.com

Graham Humphreys

The War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds

Your background
I have freelanced since leaving college and moving to London in 1980. Though I am a trained graphic designer, I specialised in illustration during my final year at Salisbury and now consider this to be my primary skill. My career has evolved around the marketing of horror films, and I was fortunate enough to get a major lift by painting the posters for the original releases of both The Evil Dead and A Nightmare On Elm Street.

Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of The War of the Worlds?
I recall seeing the film on TV when I was very young and remember the impact it made on me at the time - quite probably one of the formative moments in my youth! I’ve always enjoyed the art of science fiction posters of the 1950s and hoped to create a very obviously painted image to reflect the convention of the time.

I’ve given the actors a green hue, because it has traditionally been the default colour of alien monsters and I wanted the humans to be as alien as the Martians - in the same way I have eclipsed the Earth with Mars.

The Martian War Machine is part of the lexicon of great cinematic design and might well be considered the ‘hero’ of the film - that is why it sits above the actors. I’ve kept a very primary palette as I wanted to convey the feel of Technicolor.

What techniques and materials did you use to create your artwork?
The illustration is painted in gouache on a watercolour surface. There is a certain amount of unpredictability in the marks and textures - almost as if it were the pigmentation of an alien skin!


What is your earliest film memory?
Films have always been a rich source of inspiration for me. From TV sunday matinees through to late night horror screenings, most films have burnt their way into my subconscious on one level or another. Within the science fiction genre, this film (The War Of The Worlds) stands alongside When Worlds Collide, The Forbidden Planet and This Island Earth as my earliest experiences of the ‘other worldly’.


What inspires you?
I’ve always had an empathy with ‘otherness’ and this is evident in my film preference. Horror and science fiction provide a great expressive language for exploring ‘otherness’ and the transgressions of what is considered ‘normal’.

I enjoy the heightened theatricality and craft of the genres - imaginative design and the use of music - such scope for the imagination!


What are you working on now?
I currently have a number of Blu-Ray/DVD and film poster commissions on my list. I also have a number of private commissions awaiting attention. Almost all of it is horror-themed!

www.grahamhumphreys.com