Criterion Designs

Criterion is a wonderful company  that releases amazing blu-ray and dvd editions of  important films. As they like to say “A continuing series of important classic and contemporary films”. I started collecting them with the “Close Encounters of the Third Kindlaserdisc, around 1992. I also got their LD editions of Robocop, Seven, Brazil, Life of Brian and a few more. It was always expensive to get their discs but you got amazing quality in return: director and d.o.p. approved transfers, interviews, extras. They were the ones that created what we all know now as Special Editions. From LD they went to DVD and then BR discs. The list of their releases is huge (almost 1.000 titles on DVD and BR but more on LD that were never released in the new formats like Akira or 2001: A Space Odyssey) and I wish I had all.

Criterion always had good taste when it came to design their products and in the last few years they started working with some brilliant collaborators: Bill Sienkiewicz, Yuko Shimizu, Kent Williams, Mike AllredDaniel Clowes, Sam Smith, Eric Skillman… The amount of high quality art and design made me wonder when they would release a book showcasing all of it.

Well, 2014 was the year it came out.


Huge hardcover book, beautifully art directed by Eric Skillman and Sarah Habibi (the regular art directors of the collection) showcasing the art of 150 films and over 100 different artists.  306 pages and god it is heavy.





Part of the fun of the book is discovering what film will appear next and what kind of materials they show: sketches, rejected art, work with typography, etc, so I won´t spoil that for you,. Every design presented here has some short text where they explain some details about how it was created and the reasons for this or that creative option. Also at the end there is a collection of ALL the LD, DVD and BR covers of the company.





This book is a dream come true for designers an even though it is a bit expensive (not too much) you get a great art collection in return. As I mentioned before I am also an occasional film poster designer (you can check my company USER T38´s work at IMP Awards,  just a few of them are mine) so to me this book is a treasure and I absolutely recommend it.

PD: Eric Skillman, art director, used to have a blog where he explained from time to time the design process and some of this Criterion designs. Not updated anymore but still a great read: Cozy Lummox.


The Art of Dean Cornwell

Today we have a book about Dean Cornwell, also known as The Dean of Illustrators. Painter and illustrator, he worked in many of the same fields as other famous artists of his time as Norman Rockwell and particularly he excelled at murals.





For some reason there are not so many books as it should be about Cornwell. There is an excellent one called Dean Of Illustrators, by Patricia Janis Broder but it is out of print (I was lucky to get the re-print made in 2000) and not much more to my knowledge.

Enter The Art of Dean Cornwell. This is a limited edition book (1.000 copies) funded by crowd-funding and edited by the Illustrated Press. Unfortunately is already out of print too but still is worthy talking about (even if only to show off). The book comes with a slipcase (it is not to easy to get the book out of it) and it is a 224 pages hardcover book of super high quality content. My copy is signed by the author Daniel Zimmer, number 19 out of 100 signed books.




After a pretty good introduction about Dean´s life and story (with some great pictures of the man himself and models) we get straight into the art. And what art. I always loved Cornwell but there is so much stuff I had not seen before. We get the whole range of his work: book art, magazine work, mural, paintings, sketches… He was incredibly skilled and with  great knowledge of anatomy so he could tackle practically any subject.



As I said both of his books are out of print. This is really terrible news and I hope this situation gets fixed as soon as possible.


The Art of Robert E. McGinnis

Hello everybody and welcome to 2015!

We start the year with a great deal of a book, The Art of Robert E. McGinnis.

McGinnis is an american illustrator that has worked mostly in paperback novel covers, film poster art and different magazines like National Geographic, Cosmopolitan and many others. He is a master painter and, besides his film poster artwork, I got to know him when I saw some of his amazing far west illustrations printed in a magazine a long time ago. I was hooked and started looking for stuff by him. No internet in those days, I found nothing in bookstores in Spain. After the arrival of the intertubes I found many online images of his art but no real thick artbook to learn about the master, except some long out of print.

That situation has been corrected.


Here we have this wonderful book, hardcover and 176 pages long. Authors are McGinnis himself and Art Scott. After the introduction we have a short but great interview with the artist where Robert talks about all things related to his craft, like using models, research or working in movies. Then comes the art.




The book is divided into sections: paperback art, movies, magazines, gallery art, western art and landscapes.




The reproductions are great. The paperback covers some come with the title but most are clean art with no typography. It is really great to see so much of McGinnis art put together in a single book. I always loved his style, so iconic. We all have seen his art for Breakfast at Tiffany´s, Barbarella or James Bond movies.





I am in the process of reading the book an absorbing everything so I can´t say it is the definitive work about the master. I will just say that, no matter what, this book is indispensable.

Get it. It is the best way to start the year.


Even better news!!!

Thomas Peak, son of master artist Bob Peak just sent the following message:

““The Art of Bob Peak” book has been nothing short of a Great Success!
My next book is a “Bob Peak Sketchbook” available in the Spring of 2015. This book will be produced on “Kickstarter” with several levels of participation up to original signed Bob Peak Sketches and Artwork. More information to come.
Tom Peak

Well, the greatest news of the year so far!!!