I’ve done more than a few pieces for Criterion over the years, but Alfred Hitchcock’s spy-noir masterwork Notorious was on an entirely different level from the previous films I’ve worked on. Notorious was the very first Hitchcock I ever saw as a TV/movie-obsessed eight-year-old, and it remains my favorite, largely because of that lifelong nostalgia and the crush on Ingrid Bergman it gave me. It’s an exquisite story told deftly and brilliantly, and I love the volcanic suaveness of Cary Grant, the thorny elegance of Ingrid Bergman, the childlike danger of Claude Raines, and the spider-like manipulations of his ferocious mother, played by Leopoldine Konstantin. Notorious wasn’t my first noir, but it was the one that made me realize there was a whole world of film shot in rich and shadowy depths and anchored by pinhole shafts of light. At the time, I was getting interested in storytelling as my true passion, and I remember thinking, “I want to make something as good as this.”
Now, professionally, I’m not a film guy per se. I’m primarily an artist and a writer who uses his artwork to tell stories. When I’m working on a graphic novel or a children’s book, the depth and seriousness needed to execute the world I’m creating is definitely rewarding. But interpreting a film I adore is the joy work, the pure playground, and it’s far simpler. In many ways, it means surrendering the responsibility for it all and essentially becoming a cheerleader of the movie. Another reason working on Notorious was special for me was because the previous edition was the very first Criterion disc I ever bought. And I bought it for the cover—that black field with Bergman gingerly holding her poisoned tea cup . . . To be given the opportunity to improve upon that was both a terrific thrill and a profound challenge.
Capturing Arsenic and Old Lace, in One Macabre Image
To capture the spirit of Frank Capra’s dark screwball classic, Criterion enlisted a longtime collaborator to create an image that combines the influences of Old Hollywood illustrator Jacques Kapralik and legendary pen-and-ink artist Edward Gorey.
The Artistic Synthesis That Gave Bloom to Our Exotica Cover
For this new illustration, Spanish artist David de las Heras combined his signature use of bold colors with the lush style of French postimpressionist Henri Rousseau, a key visual influence on Atom Egoyan’s 1994 film.
David Plunkert Shares His Passion for Color and Shape
The graphic designer behind our covers for Diabolique and The Tin Drum takes us inside his Baltimore studio and his idea-driven creative process.
Artist Sean Phillips on His Many-Sided Craft, from Comics to Criterion Covers
The man behind the artwork for Sweet Smell of Success, In the Heat of the Night, and several other Criterion editions discusses his career in narrative comics and the inspiration he draws from illustration styles of the past.
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