Designer of the Week: Owen LaMay

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Meet PRINT’s latest Designer of the Week, Owen LaMay, whose alternative film posters recently caught our eye. Take a look at some of his favorite work below, in which he strives to mimic the eye of the director, and find out what he does to pin down the mood for each of his poster designs.

owen lamay, illustrator of alternative film posters

Name: Owen LaMay

Location: Chicago


Design school attended: Columbia College Chicago, BFA Illustration

How would you describe your work?

I do movie posters mostly, and artwork for films. My style is realistic, painterly, and my compositionstend to be ultra specific, using motifs that appear throughout the film and make a statement about the narrative. I try to mimic the eye of the director. Even though my work is created for the fans, I would like to think that the directors would find a bit of themselves in my artwork as well.

Where do you find inspiration?

To quote Chuck Close, “Inspiration is for amateurs. … If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work.” With that said, because my work is film-centric, I do find a lot of inspiration in the way a scene is captured by the director. One of the first things I do while thumb-nailing a project is listen to the soundtrack, whichhelps decide the mood for the poster, as well as the colors for the finished art.

Who are some of your favorite designers or artists?

Laurent Durieux is a personal hero of mine, and I love [the] way Tomer Hanuka draws figures. Otherfavorites are Ken Taylor, Kevin Tong, Rory Kurtz, Jason Edmiston, Glen Orbik and Tristan Young. Ialso have to give special accolades to Chris Arnold, Ivan Brunetti and Chris Eliopoulos, for all of thementoring they’ve offered me over the years.

work by owen lamay, illustrator of alternative film posters

Do you have a favorite among all the projects you’ve worked on?

For the past two years I have been working on a personal project I refer to as my Tarantino Collection. It’s an homage to the great filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino. The concept is to create posters that capture the nuance of Tarantino’s directing style. Each poster references his iconic use of extreme close-ups and sensory overload, while also calling upon the dialogue, props and narrative that make his films iconic. The collection, which as of now includes posters for Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, and Kill Bill Vol. 1, has truly been a labor of love. The discerning fan will enjoy spotting all the gems of pure Tarantino flavor, hidden within each poster. In other words, this collection “is some serious gourmet shit.”

Is there a project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge of your career so far?

Each project always brings its own challenges. It’s hard to choose just one. Typically I want tochallenge myself in a new way with each project I take on. It keeps me sharp.

What do you hope to accomplish in the future?

I’ve always admired the work that comes out of Mondo Gallery, and would be eager to collaborate with them on projects; Phantom City Creative as well does tremendous work. Aside from that, I simply want to continue to make art that I enjoy and that inspires others. I would like it if my artwork allowed me to travel, and see the world. Another dream of mine is to have my Tarantino Collection one day fall upon the eyes of Quentin Tarantino himself. If that were to happen, of course he would be stunned at my uncanny ability to capture his vision for each of his film, and we would likely bond over that sentiment, and inevitably become best friends because of it. I’m pretty positive that’s how it would go…

What’s your best advice for designers today?

“First you must travel a long and difficult road. A road fraught with peril. … I cannot say how long this road shall be. But fear not the obstacles in your path, for Fate has vouchsafed your reward. And though the road may wind, and yea, your hearts grow weary, still shall ye follow the way, even unto your salvation.” —Blind Seer, O’ Brother Where Art Thou

work by owen lamay, illustrator of alternative film posters
work by owen lamay, illustrator of alternative film posters
work by owen lamay, illustrator of alternative film posters

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“An Inconvenient Sequel” Film Poster by Illustrator Justin Santora