About that legendary Star Wars poster

Like any self-respecting geek, I’m a huge fan of Drew Struzan. The artist drew the artwork for hundreds of classic movie posters, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, Back to the Future and The Goonies.

One of the coolest Star Wars posters ever is the one that Struzan created with Charles White III, which looked like a torn advertisement posted on a wood wall. 
The first time I interviewed Struzan, we talked about this great poster, and how its unique design came together, which I’m now presenting for TG with Struzan himself telling the story below:

“In 1977, a friend of mine who was a very well-known air-brush artist, Charles White III, called me and asked if I wanted to share a project. It was the re-release poster for the original Star Wars. He painted on the same picture I painted. I did all the portraits, he did all the mechanical things, the robots, the hovercrafts, Vader, C-3PO. I did my part in oil-paint, and he was using air-brush. I’d never seen anybody do air-brush before, and I said, ‘I’ll do this with you if you can let me see how you do that’.


“They found out the typography and the billing block didn’t fit in the space they had left in the design. So what do we do to make more space on a poster that’s already been painted? Let’s pretend it’s posted, then they can put the type below the actual poster. So we added to the actual poster by painting Obi Wan down the side, and stuff across the bottom to make it wider and deeper. So it was necessity that invented that. At the time, that was only the second Star Wars poster. I don’t think it upset or scared anybody. In fact, that poster remained the favorite of many art directors in town.


“Star Wars was among the first posters I did that were more A oriented. You gotta remember that Star Wars wasn’t really considered an A movie, it was a genre that everyone thought was a B movie, space tales. But it became so huge, it changed the industry and it made genre films very important. We’ve been watching science fiction films for over twenty-five years because of Star Wars. [Remember], George [Lucas] wanted to be an illustrator when he was young. He appreciates and collects art. Posters weren’t really collectable before that time. Star Wars started to make posters a force to be dealt with, to be collected, remembered, honored. It was a nice growth period for the industry and for art.”