When Olly Moss was asked to design a series of posters for arguably the most iconic film series in movie history he knew the eyes of the world would be watching.
Olly is one of the artists who work for Mondo, the Texan company which has made a name for itself by producing alternative versions of film posters and it was Olly who was charged with reinventing George Lucas’ Star War series.
“When you’re working on something as iconic as that there is pressure,” he says. “There has been so much Star Wars art and merchandise which has been produced over the years that it is really difficult to come up with something that has never been done before.
“The fans feel a real sense of ownership of the films, but I’m a fan as well. There’s a balance between treating the past with respect and not being afraid to try something new. What I always try to do is ignore everything that has gone before and just approach it as completely blank canvas. What any great film poster should do is capture the essence of the film.”
Olly’s Star Wars posters, which featured the silhouettes of the likes of Darth Vader and C3PO, proved another hit for the Texan based Mondo and Olly has just curated a brand new exhibition of posters which opens in Leeds’s White Cloth Gallery tomorrow.
The event, the first of its kind in the UK, will feature Olly’s Star Wars posters alongside the work of other Mondo artists who have delivered their own take on everything from Bride of Frankenstein to Kill Bill and Planet of the Apes.
“We tend to think of posters from say the 1950s and 60s as representing some sort of golden age of film art, but really it’s only the best ones which have survived,” says Olly. “Pick any era and there is a lot of truly forgettable film posters. Part of the problems is that they are often done at the very last minute, they have to be signed off by a half a dozen people, who all want different things. There’s also the question of star billing, how large the name of the lead actor needs to be compared to the support. It is a complete minefield.
“We are really lucky because we don’t have any of those limitations, we can approach it from a completely artistic point of view. Of course, it helps if you like the film, in fact I don’t think I would ever agree to create a poster for a film I didn’t like, but basically we have completely free reign.”
Olly comes from the minimal school of design – his version of An American Werewolf in London, used the original typeface with a silhouette map of England set against a red background – and his pared-back style has proved a hit.
His recent take on Christopher Nolan’s final Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, sold nearly 10,000 copies, despite only being on sale for less than 24 hours.
Born in Winchester, Olly studied English literature at university in Birmingham. While there, he developed a lucrative sideline in printing T-shirt and after graduating decided to turn to art full-time.
“I’ve not been to art college, in fact I’ve not had any professional training, but art and design is just something that I’ve always done. I left university four years ago and can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing, I have to say it doesn’t feel like work.”
The Mondo exhibition is part of the sixth Thought Bubble Comic Convention, which is taking over Leeds this weekend as part of the city’s International Film Festival.
“The exhibition is a unique opportunity for fans of pop culture, graphic art or simply arresting images to see these fantastic pictures first hand,” says Lisa Wood, director of the Thought Bubble Comic Convention. “The White Cloth Gallery is devoted to film and photography and being able to stage a showcase of work like this is a real coup.”
Tomorrow to December 2, White Cloth Gallery, Aire Street, Leeds, free entry, gallery open Monday to Saturday, noon to 7pm, Tel.0113 2181923 www.whiteclothgallery.com