Cherchez le film. That's what Toronto graphic artist Justin Erickson of Phantom City Creative decided to do when inspiration initially refused to strike.
The movie in question was Les Misérables, for which Erickson, 28, had been commissioned to prepare a limited-edition promo poster by Gallery1988 in Los Angeles and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Erickson was one of two Gallery1988 artists from Canada, the other being Vancouver's Jeff Boyes, 34, who were among the artists assigned to do original posters commemorating the nine best picture nominees.
Erickson had read a book synopsis, scanned the reviews, watched trailers – "the stuff that usually works" – but the concept wouldn't jell. "So I had to bite the bullet and go see the film" – which he did, at a weekday matinee where the audience "was just a family, me and two little old ladies." It did the trick, though.
Boyes, by contrast, went to see his assigned film, Lincoln, right after he got the job. He aimed "to have a strong portrait, but something very simple and distinguishing."
Lincoln's riven face portrays the blue state/red state divide in contemporary America, "but I wanted a vintage look to the colours so it wasn't straight-up poppy."
All nine Oscar-themed posters are on display at Gallery1988 through Sunday. Runs of 250 screen prints of each poster will be given away free by the gallery and the academy.