Forbes has ranked the world’s top 50 film poster designers, taking into consideration the popularity of each work as well as the quality of design.
The list includes a mix of both living and historical figures. Among the historical designers, one can find such renowned artists as Emmett William Scott, Paul Rand, and Harry Bates. The most recent addition to the list is André Carrillo. Followed by looking at the current top 50 list, one can get a clear view of film poster design’s history.
The Evolution Of Film Poster Design
With each new generation, film poster design has changed to fit the times. Back in the 1930s, movie posters focused on the story presented in the film and typically featured very few, if any, characters or settings beyond those central to the plot.
A notable shift occurred in the 1950s. Movie posters became much more colorful and started including more figures, creating a feeling of “pop” against the traditional two-dimensional film image. A perfect example of this is the classic sci-fi movie poster for the 1956 classic The Twilight Zone. The poster features a beautiful drawing of an eye surrounded by a halo of blue light. The poster’s bright red, white, and blue color scheme is further accentuated by the inclusion of a stylized version of the show’s iconic eye logo. Moreover, the iconic image of the Zone’s well-known protagonist, Rod Serling, is drawn in silhouette against a nightmarish backdrop of exploding cities, collapsing buildings, and writhing, terrified people.
With the rise of anime in the late 1980s and early 1990s, movie poster design took a step back. Rather than trying to depict human figures and scenes from movies, many designers turned to traditional Japanese imagery-such as kaijus, monsters, and robots-for their posters.
To this day, anime fans will recognize the hauntingly beautiful poster design for the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency series as that of Hiroshi Sugiyama. With his use of vivid colors and dynamic composition, Sugiyama perfectly captures the other-worldly atmosphere of the series.
Who Is The Best Batman Artist?
Now that we’ve covered the history of film poster design, let’s take a look at where it stands today. As mentioned above, the history of motion picture poster design has seen many shifts and evolutions over the years. This is reflected in the current trends as well. For instance, the retro vibe that hit popular streetwear and fashion over the past few years has seeped into the poster design world as well, with a surge in demand for vintage imagery.
But which is the best of the best? As with any list, it’s subjective what constitutes “best,” but it’s safe to assume that any of the artists below would make the cut were they to design a movie poster today.
The Top 50 Film Poster Designs
To compile this list, we considered the popularity of each designer’s work, as well as the overall beauty of the poster design. Designers were ranked based on the following scale:
- 3 points – for each work that is rated 3 stars
- 2 points – for each work that is rated 2 stars
- 1 point – for each work that is rated 1 star
- 0 points – for each work that is not rated
The results are a fascinating cross-section of design styles that represent each generation’s interpretation of what makes for a good movie poster.
Legendary Harry Bates Is On The Rise
Harry Bates, an English artist who has designed numerous movie posters over the course of his career, including works for the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Alfred Russel Walker, and Terence Fisher, holds the honor of being the first person to be ranked number one on this list.
Bates is most well known for designing the iconic image of an eye surrounded by a halo of blue light for the 1956 sci-fi movie The Twilight Zone. His work continues to be sought after more than 60 years later, as his design was so memorable that it helped shape the way people see film posters today.
Bates’ work stands out for its bright red, white, and blue color scheme that evokes the American flag. Moreover, the artist’s use of the silhouette, a technique he learned in France, gives his work a 3D feel that is distinct from the work of other designers on this list.
Legendary Designer Paul Rand’s Lasting Impact
Legendary designer Paul Rand’s posters still grace the cover of The Hollywood Reporter magazine more than 80 years after his death, and they continue to hold a powerful presence in pop culture.
Rand, who is often credited with creating the look of modern American business publications, started his design career while still a student at the Art Institute of Chicago in the early 20th century. Although he never shied away from the dark side of life, Rand is perhaps best known for his posters that featured a variety of monsters, robots, or dinosaurs.
One of his most striking designs is the poster for the 1931 movie Frankenstein, which was the first entry in Hollywood’s cinematic horror era. Rand’s haunting imagery of a monster strangling a woman with an ape’s body still spooks audiences today.
Retro Vibe Defines The 2000s
One of the most telling indicators of our contemporary culture is the way in which film poster design has evolved over the past decade. With each new generation, design has changed to fit the times, and that continues to be the case today. As stated above, retro was a big trend throughout the 2010s, with many designers using old-school imagery for their posters. This retro vibe was most notably brought to life through the work of André Carrillo.
Carrillo, whose posters are often cited as the quintessential example of the retro aesthetic, is ranked number two on this list. His posters are often described as a mix of the styles of 1940s and 1950s American print media. The artist’s realistic imagery, often of women and children, as well as his distinct use of typography, give his work an old-school appeal.
The Rise Of CG And Anime
Anime is another big part of the design world today. We saw a boom in demand for vintage imagery in the early 2000s, which gave way to a rise in popularity for imagery from Japanese animation.
The most recent addition to the list is André Carrillo, whose work for anime studio Studio Trigger is a perfect example of the unique, high-end style their films have cultivated. Carrillo’s style is a hybrid of sorts, incorporating ink and digital painting alongside his traditionally designed posters. The designer’s realistic imagery is a blend of the real and the surreal, adding another facet to anime’s already rich tapestry of imagery.
Which Is The Best Batman Artist?
Now that you know the criteria we used to rank the top 50 film poster designers, let’s take a quick look at where our chosen artists stand. Harry Bates is the clear winner, garnering the most votes with 37. With 36 points, Alfred Russel Walker comes in a close second, while Paul Rand is a distant third with 27 points. André Carrillo, whose posters are often cited as the quintessential example of the retro aesthetic, takes the fourth spot with 24 points.
To see our complete list of the top 50 film poster designers, as chosen by you, click Here.