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BFI Gothic - The Dark Heart of Film

Each of our eight limited edition Gothic 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.

The Shining

Santiago Caruso

www.santiagocaruso.com.ar
@santiagocaruso
santiagocaruso@gmail.com

Your background

I was born in 1982, in Quilmes, Argentina. I am a symbolist and surrealist artist, dedicated to the fantastique, metaphysical horror and poetry, I have illustrated books for Libros del Zorro Rojo, Dark Regions Press, Ex Occidente Press, Tordesilhas, Tartarus Press, Random House Mondadori, Planeta and Penguin. I have been an active member of the Beinart Surreal Art Collective since 2010, and my artwork has been exhibited in galleries and museums in Buenos Aires, the US, the UK, Mexico and Spain.

Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of Pan's Labyrinth?

The concept is simple – it is a scene where the girl is trying to comprehend what she must do and Pan is reminding her of the position of the moon. Time is running short and the end will come.

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

This piece has been made by using washed ink on plastered cardboard. It was later scratched to create the highlights.

What is your earliest film memory?

Back to the Future.

What inspires you?

Poetry in life. A life transmuted into symbolic images of what we feel but what can't be seen at first sight.

What are you working on now?

I am working on an illustrated version of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre for The Folio Society, writing some short texts, and starting an illustrated version of The King in Yellow for Centipede Press.


Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens

Julia Soboleva

http://juliasoboleva.blogspot.co.uk
yulia.leva@inbox.lv

Your background

I was born and grew up in Latvia. I arrived at the south coast of England with the goal of getting educated in the subject I felt passionate about. The BA Illustration course at Southampton Solent University was undoubtedly the right choice for my professional and personal development. Currently I am proud to be in my final year, ready to get my degree and claim a lucky ticket to the big world.

Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens?

The first requirement I set myself was to create a portrait of Nosferatu and use it as the main part of the design. To my mind, it was important to present the figure directly facing the viewer, because Nosferatu was the first ever image of a vampire to be seen on a cinema screen. Also, it was important for me to suggest the atmosphere of the silent film and old, distorted photographs, thus referring to the time in which the film was made. This is also why I used the greenish/grey palette and grainy pattern. Interestingly, most of the subsequent cinematic representations of Bram Stoker's Count Dracula character are both romanticised and eroticised, as in Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula. But Murnau's Nosferatu is represented as a creepy, human-like creature; tall, bony and distorted, with insane bulging eyes and utterly long, hooked fingers. The vampire is shown as a foreign body, as the infection that penetrated society, spreading the plague and fear. That is why I attempted to create a character that evokes aversion and repugnance, seeming foreign and isolated. The insertion of typography, with the sharp and prolonged elements, also suggests these same themes. I have tried to harmonise the whole design by contrasting crude and rough images with fine and delicate typography.

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

To evoke the cinematic origin of the character, I used a printed screenshot from the film, digitally blown up and tinted. I then used ink and watercolour (wet-on- wet technique) to draw over the image. I combined the hand drawn typography with the image using Photoshop.

What is your earliest film memory?

As far as I can remember, it was André Hunebelle's 1964 Fantômas. The image imprinted in my mind is that weird man wearing a creepy lifeless blue mask. Probably, this image particularly excited me because of a graffiti sign on the wall of the house where I lived, that said: 'HERE WAS FANTOMAS'. Obviously, being a child I took the message literally.

What inspires you?

Nature, art, music, cinema and people.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on my final major university project. The project reflects the flourish of the Weimar Cabaret and is based on Christopher Isherwood's 1939 novel, Goodbye to Berlin, and Joe Masteroff's 1966 musical Cabaret. Inflation and political instability together with liberal ideas, new forms of expression, hedonism and sexual revolution were characteristic of the late- Weimar era, and found their artistic expression on a cabaret stage. It happened just few years before World War II – it was a dance on a volcano, the last dance before the world changed forever. The artwork is an installation. I took a vintage dressing table as a base. It represents a cabaret stage. On top of it I am going to put little cardboard cut-outs, which will be characters of the musical. Hopefully they will reflect the subject and tell the viewer a story.



The Innocents

Matt Young

www.mymymy.co.uk
@matthewoyoung

Your background

I studied graphic design at university, and while there I was completely seduced by animation. I created a lot of short animated films – mostly low-fi 2D, hand- crafted stuff, not fancy 3D things – and my animations were heavily influenced by my graphic design work, and vice versa. At some point I got really in to book design, and I created my own bespoke publishing company. Nowadays I work full time as a book cover designer for Penguin, and also juggle a lot of freelance work and side-projects involving making animations, websites, books, etc.

Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of The Innocents?

The close relationship between Miles and Flora is a central part of the film. This cover shows the two children, hand in hand, as very small figures. The larger figures looming in the background are the silhouettes of the creepy, half- decaying gothic statues that adorn the mansion and the grounds. Throughout the film you're not sure what's just a statue and what's really a ghost. The contrast between the large figures in the background and the small children in the foreground represents the relationship between the children and the ghosts that are controlling them.

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

I created most of the artwork on a long train journey from Cornwall to London, using a pencil and a small sketchbook. Once I was happy with the illustrations I photographed them on my iPhone (no scanner on the train!) and dropped them into Photoshop to tweak the colours and refine things a bit. The lettering was done separately using watercolour and pencil, and again, a bit of Photoshop. The typography is inspired by the type that was used on the film's original theatrical trailer from 1961.

What is your earliest film memory?

I think my earliest film memory is probably The Lion King — I'm pretty sure this was the first film I ever saw at the cinema, when I was about five years old, and I remember crying when Mufassa died. Harrowing.

What inspires you?

I never know how to answer this one — inspiration can come from literally anywhere. I'm obviously inspired by the world around me, the books I read, the websites I visit, and the people I meet. I do enjoy researching vintage book covers, movie posters, album artwork, old newspapers and magazines, typography manuals and specimen books and so on, so I'm sure that's where I get a lot of my inspiration from.

What are you working on now?

Right now I'm juggling a big handful of different book covers for Penguin, a really exciting book project with the National Portrait Gallery, working on a small animation, and a top-secret website that I can't wait to reveal.


Nosferatu – Phantom der Nacht

Matt Brand

matthew.brand@tumblr.com
matt_brand@hotmail.co.uk

Your background

I graduated from Norwich University of the Arts in 2011 with first class honours in Illustration, and received the principal's commendation award at degree show. That summer I exhibited at D&AD New Blood with fellow Norwich graduates. Since then I have focused on Graphic Design as well as honing my illustrative skills, and both disciplines continue to compliment and influence one another. Currently, I am working for a creative studio in central London, working in branding, strategy and design, as well as expanding my illustration portfolio.

Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of Nosferatu – Phantom der Nacht?

The idea behind my cover design was to focus on Count Dracula himself and the
themes that vampires portray, but still deliver a simple, striking piece of design. Using a simple silhouette of the Count's portrait to crop into an illustration of the baron rocky landscape creates a death-mask-like motif. I became interested in the curse of the vampire, exploring themes of disease and infection.

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

I work predominately in graphite. This particular piece was created with a couple of trusty mechanical pencils before being finished digitally.

What is your earliest film memory?

Of my two earliest film memories, one is euphoric, the other terrifying. The first was Toy Story. There are probably earlier memories, but this was hands down a turning point in my life. It's my most vivid memory of going to the cinema, and to this day it stands as one of the finest pieces of theatre I have ever seen. The second was the 1958 original version of The Blob. I was scared and didn't understand it.

What inspires you?

Observing the everyday, music, and film.

What are you working on now?

At the minute I am working on some small projects, mostly self-initiated, and enjoying working at the studio.


Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari

Ben Goodman

www.bengoodman.co.uk
http://bens-illustration.blogspot.co.uk
www.facebook.com/BenGoodmanArtist
@bengoodman_uk
contactme@bengoodman.co.uk

Your background

I moved from my hometown of Coventry down to Bristol in 2006 and haven't looked back. Bristol is a fantastic place to nurture and stimulate your artistic appetite, and since being here I've focused on traditional printmaking techniques. I graduated from UWE in 2011 with a degree in Illustration but had spent most of my time there producing more etchings than illustrations. After leaving university I've concentrated on wood engraving and in 2012 I bought an 1875 Albion Printing Press, which has allowed me to print to my heart's desire, 24- hours a day!

Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari?

I've tried to encapsulate a sense of omen and isolation, which I felt were key parts of the film. In the film there is an increasing portent of things to come and the sinister events become evermore confused. Yet, by the end of the film, the past events seem quite simple and isolated. On my cover I put Dr Caligari in the centre of the town but also on its outskirts. He is the key component of the story and yet, at the same time, not. To me it feels like he is on the outside looking in and, like all the characters, on his own. I added the crows to reinforce that sense of impending downfall.

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

The original image is a print from a copper plate etching. To create it I used a mixture of techniques, starting with hard-ground etching, where you apply a thin layer of wax to the surface, scrape your image into it and then submerge it in acid. The tones were achieved using Aquatint, and the scratches and bits of texture were made by scratching directly onto the plate (dry-point etching).

What is your earliest film memory?

My memory is exceptionally bad, so the hazy memories from my childhood are hard to place. The film that first comes to mind is Fantasia and specifically the scene depicting the Sorcerer's Apprentice. I still find the combination of the images and music inspiring and wouldn't be surprised if it has influenced my work. Other than that, I have a strong memory of going to see a lot of Laurel and Hardy films in Birmingham (complete with live musical accompaniment).

What inspires you?

Anything inspires me, as long as it's new (to me) and innovative. It could be a painting style that I've not seen before or a clever (but simple) composition. With my own work I try to inspire an emotion, which is one reason I tend to use only black ink, because I find it the most provocative and powerful colour.

What are you working on now?

I've got several private commissions for wood engravings on the go at the moment. Apart from that I've also been down in London a fair bit for the opening of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy where an engraving of mine is
on display.


Cat People

Graham Humphreys

www.grahamhumphreys.com

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 myself an illustrator, first and foremost. 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 Cat People?

Cat People is a beautifully subtle film, which seems to invite layers of interpretation. It was my decision to concentrate on a portrait of Simone Simon and contrast the sultry, relaxed face with the unleashed fury of the roaring panther. The New York setting ensured that this was a very urban tale of human desire, rather than the wilds of a jungle – the composition was intended to be claustrophobic, in order to suggest the thematic 'caged passion', though the colouring feels quite tropical.

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

The illustration is rendered in gouache on a watercolour surface. This is my preferred medium and employs techniques I've refined over the years, however, it also allows for a certain amount of unpredictability in the marks and textures.
Perfect for the undercurrent of wild, animal instinct!

What is your earliest film memory?

Films have always been a rich source of inspiration for me, though watching them on TV as a child soon gave way to a preference for the horror genre the Universal monster films, Hammer Horror and Roger Corman's Poe adaptations. My tastes have since expanded vastly, but I still have my first loves!

What inspires you?

Anything that sits outside of 'normal' and exists in a place that is considered transgressive in polite society and religious thought! Music has been an important influence (from the earliest punk rock of my college years, to the soundtracks of John Barry, Ennio Morriconne and Michael Nyman). The iconography of Tibetan Buddhism has been of special growing interest for me.

What are you working on now?

I have a number of Blu-ray and DVD commissions, from companies such as Arrow, Nucleus and the BFI, to pre-sales artwork for film, film poster work and vinyl soundtrack releases. I also have a number of private commissions awaiting attention.


Vampyr

Midge Naylor

www.midgenaylor.co.uk
midge@midgenaylor.co.uk

Your background

I'm a professional painter working in BV Studios, Bristol, although I was born on the coast of South East Scotland near Edinburgh. I completed a BA Fine Art degree at the University of the West of England in 1994. Elected as a Royal West of England Academician in 2012, I exhibit in numerous gallery and open submission shows, as well as art fairs in the UK.

Could you explain the concept of your cover design? How does your artwork convey the themes/motifs of Vampyr?

When I was asked to submit artwork for Vampyr, I viewed Dreyer's work and had a look at David Rudkin's critique of the film. I suppose the most appealing thing about Vampyr for me was its crushing, oppressive atmosphere, which does still hold up in the twenty-first century. My paintings have, on occasion, been described as 'dark', 'sinister' and 'disquieting', and it's these feelings that I tried to convey in the artwork. Being a painter who hovers between abstraction and figuration, I played down narrative and tried to deliver a feeling of the film through colour, texture and form. The only recognisable motifs are, I suppose, a moon and a red sky.

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

Through a process of layering and scraping back fairly heavily-applied paint and other materials, a work is slowly coaxed into being. I like to describe my methods as experimental rather than intuitive. A process of adjustment of form, line, colour and composition proceeds until I feel the piece is resolved – during this period it's quite easy to lose a work which was almost there. The materiality of the paintings increases their imaginary potential and gives them a concentrated presence. I think of them as psychic landscapes.
Using a variety of materials is important – mixing acrylic, oil, graphite, dry pigment and sometimes collaged elements can result in some emotive outcomes. A very resilient birchwood panel supports the work.

What is your earliest film memory?

My earliest film memory was watching Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life very close to Christmas when I was six or seven. I was enthralled by the magic of it. Interestingly, some scenes appeared, to me, to be in colour. Subsequent viewings through the years brought out the toxic atmosphere of small town life though. The writer Richard Cohen called it 'the most terrifying Hollywood film ever made'.

What inspires you?

I'm not too keen on the word inspiration. I use landscape to connote a liminal space, which we are all familiar with in our experiences of dream and reverie. Consciousness represents just the tip of a sensory triangle where memory, imagination and direct visual experience coalesce. Tarkovsky's 'zone' captures this feeling pretty well, and the book Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban has been a great influence.

What are you working on now?

Currently I'm developing six large paintings and trying to use similar motifs across all of them, as well as working on monotypes. This printing technique is useful, as it requires instant decisions and can produce fine accidents, which can be carried into the painting.