Design: Roy Kuhlman and Erwin Poell jacket-covers

Over the past decade, the art of the handmade poster has returned to fashion in a mammoth way through underground rock circles (check out gigposters.com for examples of work by literally thousands of contemporary poster artists), forcing all those highly-paid graphic designers who went to school to (supposedly) learn how to have taste to ramp up their own game significantly. Every movie fan has seen and drooled over the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s ongoing screen-printed poster series, and it made me want to look back at a couple designers who – despite working in a commercial medium – were able to reach heights of artistry that few since have been able to top.

Roy Kuhlman (1923-2007) designed over 700 avant garde/jazz/beat-infused covers for Grove Press books in the 1950s and 60s.  Although Kuhlman is in company with fellow pioneering book jacket artists Alvin Lustig and Rudy de Harak, I feel a deeper connection to Kuhlman’s work just by virtue of the fact that I inherited many Grove Press books as a teenager and became hooked on his stuff back then.

 

Another designer – probably the only guy who could make you want to collect boring medical journals in a language you can’t read – is German/Swiss type-designer and lithographer Erwin Poell (1930-) who did the covers for Naturwissenschaft und Medizin magazine (1965-1972), which are gorgeous modernist artworks that visually explored the meticulous systems contained within the mag’s pages. In 1992 a German book of his artwork was released, entitled ‘Entwürfe für den Alltag. Typografie. Grafik-Design. Art Direction’.



(this collection of n+m covers comes courtesy of the Things to Look At design blog)

About the author:

Kier-La Janisse

Kier-La Janisse is a film writer and programmer, Owner/Artistic Director of Spectacular Optical Publications and founder of The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. She has been a programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, co-founded Montreal microcinema Blue Sunshine, founded the CineMuerte Horror Film Festival (1999-2005) in Vancouver, was the Festival Director of Monster Fest in Melbourne, Australia and was the subject of the documentary Celluloid Horror (2005). She is the author of A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (FAB Press, 2007) and House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films (FAB Press, 2012) and contributed to Destroy All Movies!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film (Fantagraphics, 2011), Recovering 1940s Horror: Traces of a Lost Decade (Lexington, 2014) The Canadian Horror Film: Terror of the Soul (University of Toronto Press, 2015) and We Are the Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale (PS Press, 2017). She co-edited and published the anthology books KID POWER! (Spectacular Optical, 2014), Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s (Spectacular Optical, 2015) and Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin (2017), and is co-editing Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television for release in late 2017. She is currently writing A Song From the Heart Beats the Devil Every Time: Children’s Programming and the Counterculture, 1965-1985, monographs about Monte Hellman’s Cockfighter and Patricia Birch’s Grease 2, and is in development on a TV series based on her book House of Psychotic Women with Rook Films.

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