Just One of Those Things…

July 2nd, 2010 | Posted in Freelancing

Click for a closer look…

From the Freelance Files:

When doing freelance work for a lot of different clients it is inevitable you’ll have one of those “Huh? Really??” moments every once and awhile when something unexpected happens on a job. One of those happened to me last week after I finished the artwork for a movie poster for a political documentary film by director Ray Griggs who did the “Super Capers” film I worked on.

I had done a considerable amount of artwork for the movie itself, which amid interviews of politicians and others has three CGI animated segments that I did all the character design and storyboards for and designed a promotional bobblehead toy as well. When Ray asked me to do the movie poster, a relatively simple image of Obama in the classic James Montgomery Flagg “Uncle Sam” pose my first thought was I needed to stick to the same sort of style as the animated characters and the bobblehead, but Ray had other ideas. He wanted something that stuck closer to the original Flagg style in the famous poster. Flagg’s loose and sketchy watercolor look was not going to work very well with a cartoony sort of image, so I ended up doing a richer, painterly look but keeping with a more realistic caricature depiction of Obama as Ray wanted. Ray liked the final results.

The “Huh? Really??” moment came a few days later after some of the investors in the film saw the mock up of the poster with my artwork in place. It seems they thought as I originally did… that it made no sense to have a totally different type of look to the Obama on the movie poster when there was already a visual identity to the film’s imagery (i.e. my cartoon caricature of Obama from the bobblehead and CGI animations). Thus, I had to redo the poster using instead my more cartoony caricature of Obama. At an enormous 29″ x 40″ in size this took me an entire day to do, even though it was in comparison a much simpler image than the painterly original shown above. I can’t show you the new image yet but the posters should be released sometime this summer.

Even though it did make more sense to stick with the same image style as depicted in the film, I much preferred the look of the painted Uncle Obama shown here… it looks more like it belongs on a movie poster. If we were doing the cartoony style we should have done a funny scene with multiple characters in it ala “Animal House” or “The Bad News Bears”. Ah well.

On the other hand, what do movie studio people know?? Not much considering when a legend like Drew Struzan does the art for the poster of a movie like this one:

…yet the brain wizards at Lionsgate go with this piece of PhotoShop crap for the DVD cover???!?:

Riggggght. Good thinking. Sheesh.


  1. Jeff Zugale says:

    But Tom! That poster really pops! It’s well-targeted to the core low-post-preteen demographic and aced the marketing focus tests with males 8-13! It shows impactful dynamism and will surely maximize monetization of the SKU!

    Really Tom, you’ve got to think outside the box, flow with the hot flash memes and be a team player.


  2. sharprm says:

    They don’t use ‘marketing focus tests’ it’s all chicken entrails nowadays.

  3. Steve Hearn says:

    Tom, that Obama painterly style is very awesome! Amazing work as always!


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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