|1966 Yearbook photo||John about 1999|
|John with his sister Suzanne and mother in Germany||PGHS sign with John Alvin as Hall of Fame inductee. See also the article on his induction at ArtInsights which also has a major website devoted to him.|
We live in the Hudson River Valley in upstate New York where we are building a home. We are both professional artists and have been for the past thirty years.
After working in the entertainment industry (designing movie posters) for more than two decades, we are turning our skills toward fine art. My gallery is the prestigious Chuck Jones Gallery in Southern California and New Mexico. We were drawn to this part of the country by various things including the legendary light and color of the area, its historical significance, and the small home town atmosphere.
The biggest reason though was to be closer to our daughter Farah who is a professional singer and actress on Broadway in NYC.
February 6, 2008
1948 - 2008
Craig Kausen, President of Linda Jones Enterprises, Inc. announced today that renowned movie poster artist, John Alvin, passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, February 6th . He was 59.
Considered the pre-eminent movie campaign artist of the past 35 years, Alvin's career began in 1974 with his creation of the iconic movie poster for Mel Brook's "Blazing Saddles". He most recently contributed design ideas for the campaign for Disney Studio's "Enchanted." In a career that encompassed multiple projects for such directors as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Blake Edwards, Mel Brooks and Ridley Scott, Alvin was considered by many studios as the go-to artist for movie poster and campaign art. John Alvin said that his work "created the promise of a great experience" and in that he never failed.
Alvin and his wife, Andrea, had recently relocated to New York's Hudson Valley from Los Angeles in order to be closer to their daughter and only child, Farah, a Broadway actress. John Alvin said that as a child he eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Sunday paper so that he could peruse the ads for the new movies playing at the local theaters. He was enamored with the magic of film at an early age and would create art inspired largely by his love of film. That passion led him to the Art Center College of Design where he met his wife, Andrea (also a student at Art Center) from which he graduated in the early 1970s.
His big break came with the job to create the movie poster for Mel Brook's "Blazing Saddles" in 1974. This campaign led to Alvin creating the images for numerous other Brook's films including "Young Frankenstein". His prominence in this medium was soon after established with his creation of the movie posters for Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner," Steven Spielberg's "E.T.-The Extra-Terrestrial" and Blake Edward's "Victor/Victoria." Not only did Alvin create the movie posters for those particular films, but he also created many subsequent iconic film posters. In all, Alvin created the posters for over 135 movies in a 35 year career. He is considered to be an innovator in this genre.
Alvin's work is currently represented in several art galleries nationwide where his original paintings, drawings and limited edition fine art reproductions are displayed. In his recent work, he continued to create iconic images for contemporary films like the Star Wars , Harry Potter , Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean series. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Food Bank Association of New York State, 235 Lark Street, Albany, NY 12210 or to your local Food Bank Association.
More obits and articles
Sorry for the sloppy paragraphing and font work. There was so much, I just pasted it in as I found it in a very old text editor that doesn't automatically carry formatting with it. Maybe I'll come back to this sometime and fix it up. (Or, if you wish, you may clean it up and make it look nice and send me the text and code.)
Los Angeles Times, CA Feb. 10, 2008
John Alvin, 59; created movie posters for such films as 'Blazing Saddles' and 'E.T.'
By Jocelyn Stewart, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
John Alvin, who carved a niche for himself in Hollywood as the creator of evocative movie posters that drew generations of viewers into theaters to see films such as "Blazing Saddles," "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" and "Beauty and the Beast," died of a heart attack Wednesday at his home in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He was 59. In the 1970s when Alvin began his career in cinematic art, the movie poster or "key art" was still the preeminent means of advertising new films. The art appeared on billboards and in newspapers, doing the work now done primarily by movie trailers and television ads. Alvin's goal was to design posters that "created the promise of a great experience," he once said. Although the poster was based on the movie, it was an entity unto itself, so alluring you had to pay attention -- and head to a theater. The movie poster became an enduring image and could play a key role in the success of a film, said John Sabel, executive vice president of creative print advertising at Walt Disney Pictures. On more than 100 films, Alvin was the architect of the image. "There was a reason why 'The Lion King' did the numbers that it did," Sabel said Friday. "There was a reason why 'Hunchback [of Notre Dame]' became a big success. It's because of the images that were produced, and a lot of those were John Alvin's paintings." Born Nov. 24, 1948, in Hyannis, Mass., Alvin grew up in a military family and spent his childhood in various places until settling in the Monterey Bay area during his high school years. Art and movies were his passion even in his youth, when he read the newspaper for its movie ads. The opportunity that launched Alvin's career came a few years after he graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles in 1971. Alvin was working as an illustrator at an animation studio when a friend invited him to work on a poster for the upcoming Mel Brooks comedy "Blazing Saddles," which was released in 1974. The poster was a standout because of its unusual take: It was serious, yet incorporated zany elements of the film. Inscribed on the headdress worn by Brooks as the Yiddish-speaking Indian chief is the phrase "Kosher for Passover," a joke contributed by Alvin's wife, Andrea, that took "the edge off what was basically serious art." "Mel Brooks liked it," Alvin said in a 2007 article in the Santa Fe New Mexican. "I didn't look for work for about 15 years after that; it came to me. I just kept getting calls from strangers who asked, 'Are you the guy who did so-and-so film?' "The poster for "Blazing Saddles," with its "strongly iconographic" imagery, typifies Alvin's work and resonated with movie fans, said Greg Kachel, a longtime friend. The poster for "E.T." features the bony hand of the alien touching, tip to tip, the finger of his human buddy Elliott and creating a glow. Steven Spielberg is said to have suggested the image, a riff on Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam." The movie poster was a source of pride for Alvin, said his daughter, actress Farah Alvin of New York, who as a child served as the hand model for the poster. In a career that spanned more than three decades, Alvin worked on such films as "Young Frankenstein," "Gremlins," "City Slickers," "Batman Returns," "The Color Purple" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. He also created anniversary posters for "Star Wars." The work Alvin created was so distinctive it gave birth to an adjective, "Alvinesque," said his longtime friend and colleague Federico Tio, with whom Alvin worked on such Disney films as "Beauty and the Beast." "John always brought this magical, almost romantic quality to his work," Tio said. "His sense of light and capturing a moment was spectacular. . . . Not only was he a great illustrator, he was a great thinker. He was so passionate about his craft." Alvin contributed design ideas for the recent Disney movie "Enchanted." But with increased use of other forms of advertising, the movie poster has diminished in importance. In recent years Alvin began to focus more on fine art, creating art about the movies rather than advertising. "With any of my cinematic art, I want the viewer to embrace and relive the magic that we all felt when we go to the movies," he said in a 2006 article in Art Business News. In addition to his wife and daughter, Alvin is survived by a sister, Suzanne Alvin, of Seaside, Calif. Services will be private. Memorial donations may be made to the heart program at the Foundation for Vassar Brothers Medical Center, 45 Reade Place, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601, (845) 454-8500.
Variety, CA Feb. 8, 2008
Movie poster artist John Alvin dies
Campaign designer worked on 135 movies
By VARIETY STAFF
Movie poster artist John Alvin died Feb. 6 of a heart attack in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He was 59. A leading film campaign designer who created posters for more than 135 movies, his career began in 1974 with the poster for Mel Brook's "Blazing Saddles." Most recently, he contributed design ideas for the campaign for Disney's "Enchanted." As a child, Alvin said he eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Sunday paper so that he could peruse the ads for the new movies. His interests led him to attend the Art Center College of Design, which he graduated in the early 1970s. He went on to work on several other films by Brooks including "Young Frankenstein." He also created posters for Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner," Steven Spielberg's "E.T.-The Extra-Terrestrial" and Blake Edward's "Victor/Victoria." In recent years, he continued to work on campaigns for series including Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean. He is survived by his wife, Andrea, and daughter, Farah, an actress.
The Majestic 2001
New York Times, NY Feb. 11, 2008
John Alvin, Designer of Memorable Film Posters, Is Dead at 59
By DENNIS HEVESI
John Alvin, who created memorable images for movie posters, billboards and advertisements, including the two fingers touching above the Earth's surface for "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," died on Wednesday at his home in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He was 59. The cause was a heart attack, his daughter, Farah Alvin, said. Mr. Alvin painted striking images for more than 135 films in a 35-year career, working on projects for directors like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Blake Edwards, Mel Brooks and Ridley Scott. "He captured the heart of whatever the assignment was," Federico Tio, executive vice president of marketing for Walt Disney Studios from 1990 to 2005, said in an interview on Friday. "John became synonymous with almost all of the recent posters for Disney" - for films including "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "The Little Mermaid" and rereleases of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "Pinocchio." "We actually started using him as an adjective," Mr. Tio said. "We called his work Alvinized." For the 1974 horror spoof "Young Frankenstein," Mr. Alvin painted looming stonelike title letters rising from a castle that is superimposed over a full moon, with a crazed Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle as the Frankenstein monster tipping his top hat. For "Blade Runner" in 1982, he used a large composite of Harrison Ford's face over a futuristic city. His 1994 poster for "The Lion King" shows animals of many kinds surrounding a rock to view the newborn monarch. More recently Mr. Alvin painted posters for the "Star Wars," "Harry Potter," "Lord of the Rings" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" series. John Henry Alvin was born in Hyannis, Mass., on Nov. 24, 1948, the son of Albert and Rena Troutman Alvin, both career Army officers. His daughter said that as a child Mr. Alvin was awe-struck by big-budget movies like "The Vikings" and "The Time Machine" and began sketching his recollections of scenes. In 1971 he graduated from the Art Center College of Design, which was then in Los Angeles and is now in Pasadena. In addition to his daughter, an actress, who lives in Manhattan, Mr. Alvin is survived by his wife, the former Andrea Brown, whom he met in art school and with whom he later worked on several projects; and a sister, Suzanne Alvin of Seaside, Calif. In college, Mr. Alvin did some freelance work for Anthony Goldschmidt, an art director in Hollywood. It led to his big break, when he was asked to paint a poster for Mel Brooks's comic western "Blazing Saddles." Mr. Alvin's poster showed Mr. Brooks wearing an Indian headdress with a headband in Hebrew reading, "Kosher for Passover"; superimposed was an image of Cleavon Little on horseback in sunglasses with a Gucci saddlebag.
Fresno Bee, CA Feb. 10, 2008
John Alvin, movie poster illustrator, dead at 59
(AP) Illustrator John Alvin, who created the posters for more than 120 movies including "Blazing Saddles," "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," and "The Lion King," has died of a heart attack at his home in upstate New York. He was 59. Alvin died on Feb. 6, according to Craig Kausen, president of Linda Jones Enterprises in Irvine, Calif., one of several galleries representing Alvin's work. A memorial service was held on Sunday in Rhinebeck, N.Y., where Alvin and his wife Andrea had recently moved from Los Angeles to be closer to their daughter, Farah Alvin, a Broadway actress. Alvin's career began in 1974 with his creation of the movie poster for Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles." That successful campaign led to work on numerous other Brooks films including "Young Frankenstein." Alvin produced many special works for Lucasfilm's Star Wars phenomenon, including the Star Wars Tenth Anniversary poster, highly coveted by collectors. Some of his most famous work was done for science fiction and fantasy film series such as "Alien," "Jurassic Park," the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and "Harry Potter." He also produced posters and promotional artwork for numerous Disney movies, including "Aladdin," "Beauty and the Beast," "The Little Mermaid," "Pinocchio," and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." Born in Hyannis, Mass., in 1948, Alvin grew up in a military family and moved around a lot until settling in California's Monterey Bay area during his high school years. He graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles in 1971, and was working as an illustrator at an animation studio when a friend invited him to do the "Blazing Saddles" poster. As other forms of movie promotion and advertising became more important than posters in recent years, Alvin had begun to focus more on creating interpretive art about movies, rather than advertising.
From Memory Alpha, the free Star Trek reference
John Alvin (ca. 1948 - 6 February 2008) was an award-winning movie poster artist. He designed and illustrated the posters for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Hailing from Massachusetts, Alvin graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, California. He became a freelance artist and began illustrating film posters, beginning with the poster for Mel Brooks' 1974 comedy, Blazing Saddles. Alvin went on to design many more posters for Brooks, including those for Young Frankenstein and Spaceballs. Alvin has designed posters for many Joe Dante films (including Gremlins and InnerSpace) and has worked frequently with director Blake Edwards (10, Victor/Victoria). He also designed posters for such movies as Blade Runner, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Cocoon, The Color Purple (for which he drew a silhouette of star Whoopi Goldberg), The Princess Bride, The Goonies, Rain Man, Willow, City Slickers, Hook, Batman Returns, and Batman Forever. His work for Disney includes posters for the animated films The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King and Mulan. His more recent collaborations with Disney include campaign advertisement designs for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and the 2007 film Enchanted. Alvin has also designer and illustrated special advertisement projects for the Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter film franchises. Alvin was asked to design the Star Trek VI poster in the style of Bob Peak, who did the posters for the earlier Star Trek films. Alvin found the opportunity to be an honor, citing Peak as one of his greatest influences.  In the cited interview, Alvin states that artist Richard Amsel, another influence of his, was the artist on the Star Trek posters. This is incorrect; Bob Peak worked on all the Star Trek posters up through Star Trek VI. It is possible that Alvin simply mixed up their names. Alvin died of a heart attack in Rhinebeck, New York, on 6 February 2008. He was 59 years old. 
Sources: JohnAlvin.com - official website; The Artwork of John Alvin - fan site; John Alvin at Wikipedia; John Alvin poster gallery at the Internet Movie Poster Awards
John Alvin 1948-2008
Irvine, CA-Craig Kausen, President of Linda Jones Enterprises, Inc. announced today that renowned movie poster artist, John Alvin, passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, February 6th. He was 59. Considered the pre-eminent movie campaign artist of the past 35 years, Alvin's career began in 1974 with his creation of the iconic movie poster for Mel Brook's "Blazing Saddles". He most recently contributed design ideas for the campaign for Disney Studio's "Enchanted." In a career that encompassed multiple projects for such directors as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Blake Edwards, Mel Brooks and Ridley Scott, Alvin was considered by many studios as the go-to artist for movie poster and campaign art. John Alvin said that his work "created the promise of a great experience" and in that he never failed. Alvin and his wife, Andrea, had recently relocated to New York's Hudson Valley from Los Angeles in order to be closer to their daughter and only child, Farah, a Broadway actress. John Alvin said that as a child he eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Sunday paper so that he could peruse the ads for the new movies playing at the local theaters. He was enamored with the magic of film at an early age and would create art inspired largely by his love of film. That passion led him to the Art Center College of Design where he met his wife, Andrea (also a student at Art Center) from which he graduated in the early 1970s. His big break came with the job to create the movie poster for Mel Brook's "Blazing Saddles" in 1974. This campaign led to Alvin creating the images for numerous other Brook's films including "Young Frankenstein". His prominence in this medium was soon after established with his creation of the movie posters for Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner," Steven Spielberg's "E.T.-The Extra-Terrestrial" and Blake Edward's "Victor/Victoria." Not only did Alvin create the movie posters for those particular films, but he also created many subsequent iconic film posters. In all, Alvin created the posters for over 135 movies in a 35 year career. He is considered to be an innovator in this genre. Alvin's work is currently represented in several art galleries nationwide where his original paintings, drawings and limited edition fine art reproductions are displayed. In his recent work, he continued to create iconic images for contemporary films like the Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean series. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Food Bank Association of New York State, 235 Lark Street, Albany, NY 12210 or to your local Food Bank Association. Creating the promise of a great experience" is how John Alvin describes his role as the preeminent designer and illustrator of cinema art in the entertainment industry today. In a business where you are only as good as your last job, Alvin is prolific. He has designed and illustrated some of the world's most widely recognizable movie art. Of the more than 120 film campaigns he has created, 'E.T. : The Extra-Terrestrial' is the most satisfying to Alvin, and appropriately so, as the movie is one of the most successful in cinema history. In addition to receiving the Hollywood Reporter Key Art Awards' grand prize, Alvin's E.T. was the only movie art ever to be honored with the Saturn Award from The Academy of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Films. The ability to infuse art with feeling was one reason Disney wanted Alvin for The Lion King and the "adult campaigns" for many Disney animated classics. The adult campaign will usually be more elegant, more symbolic, and in Alvin's masterful hands, imbued with a moody, almost magical aura. "His work inspires us," say the Disney marketing execs. "Alvin brings emotion into his artwork that can only be captured in an illustration. We call it 'Alvinizing'." Alvin acquired a full array of artist's skills and techniques as a student of the distinguished Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. Soon thereafter, in 1974, he got his chance to put his love of entertainment art and his artist training to work by creating the campaign art for Mel Brook's 'Blazing Saddles'. Looking back, Alvin is surprised at times to realize that he's been creating cinema art for more than twenty-five years. Alvin has developed and maintained a very loyal following among collectors of cinema art, making his original art and signed reproductions much sought after and treasured pieces of movie memorabilia. Truly, John Alvin belongs to a very special and very short list of cinema art masters whose works have become icons in Hollywood's rich and colorful history. Most recently, John has been commissioned by Disney to create interpretive images for their fine art program, and he has been chosen as both the official fine artist for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the official poster artist for the 30th anniversary Star Wars Celebration in 2007. Clearly at the top of his game, John Alvin continues to increase the number of his admirers and collectors, not only as they look back on his substantial body of work, but also as they look to newest interpretive cinema art. John is married to the lovely and talented fine artist Andrea Alvin, and is the proud father of Farah Alvin, star of the Broadway stage. Another very important member of the family is John's dog Milo who enjoys his Upstate New York acreage as he patrols the perimeter all the while never parting company with the seriously loud and obnoxious squeaky spiny ball, red variant.
Here is a fairly accurate list of movie campaigns and posters worked on by John Alvin:
- Anchor Bay Ent - Tai-Pan
- Arthur II
- Artisan Ent - The Fabulous Baker Boys
- Buena Vista Home Ent - Earnest Scared Stupid
- Buena Vista Home Ent - Mr. Destiny
- Columbia Tristar - Bite The Bullit
- Columbia Tristar - By The Sword
- Columbia Tristar - Hanover Street
- Columbia Tristar - Hook
- Columbia Tristar - Lawrence Of Arabia
- Columbia Tristar - Old Gringo
- Columbia Tristar - Flatliners
- Disney - Aladdin
- Disney - Aladdin (European)
- Disney - Aladdin (Japanese)
- Disney - Arachnophobia
- Disney - Beauty And The Beast
- Disney - Big Wednesday
- Disney - Hercules (Japanese)
- Disney - Mulan ( Japanese)
- Disney - Newsies
- Disney - Pinocchio
- Disney - Rescuers Down Under
- Disney - Shipwrecked
- Disney - Snow White
- Disney - Tall Tale
- Disney - The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (European)
- Disney - The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (Japanese)
- Disney - The Lion King
- Disney - The Little Mermaid
- Disney - The Three Muskateers
- Fox Home Ent - Mother, Jugs, And Speed
- Fox Home Ent - Raw Deal
- Fox Home Ent - The Verdict
- Fox Home Ent - Thumbelina
- Fox Home Entertainment -Dying Young
- Image Ent - Short Circuit
- Image Ent - The Twilight Zone
- Metro Goldwyn Mayer - Rainman
- Metro Goldwyn Mayer -Texasville
- MGM - Betrayed
- MGM - City Slickers
- MGM - Fritz The Cat
- MGM - Leviathan
- MGM - Losin' It
- MGM - Rancho Deluxe
- MGM - Red Dawn
- MGM - Running Scared
- MGM - Solarbabies
- MGM - Spaceballs
- MGM - The Princess Bride
- MGM - Young Frankenstein
- Nickel Ride
- Paramount Home Video - Star Trek Vi: The Undiscovered Country
- Paramount Studios - The Golden Child
- Royal Flash
- Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother
- Twentieth Century Fox - Phantom Of The Paradise
- Twentieth Century Fox - Star Wars: The Concerts
- Twentieth Century Fox - The Turning Point
- Twentieth Century Fox - Star Wars 10th Anniversary
- Twentieth Century Fox -Project X
- Twentieth Century Fox -Rhinestone
- Twentieth Century Fox Silent Movie
- Twentieth Century Fox -Willow
- Twentieth Century Fox - Alien (15th Anniversary)
- Twentieth Century Fox - High Anxiety
- Twentieth Century Fox -History Of The World Part 1
- Twentieth Century Fox -Cocoon
- Twentieth Century Fox -Cocoon The Return
- Twentieth Century Fox -Conrack
- Umvd - Legend
- Umvd - Melvin And Howard
- Universal Studios - Always
- Universal Studios - Cape Fear
- Universal Studios - Darkman
- Universal Studios - E.T.
- Universal Studios - E.T. (Advance)
- Universal Studios - E.T. (Re-Release)
- Universal Studios - The Milagro Beanfield War
- Vestron Video - Ironweed
- Warner Home Video - Cats Don't Dance
- Warner Home Video - Empire Of The Sun
- Warner Home Video - My Favorite Year
- Warner Home Video - S.O.B.
- Warner Home Video - Christopher Columbus: The Discovery
- Warner Home Video - Joe Vs. The Volcano
- Warner Home Video - Gremlins
- Warner Home Video - Innerspace
- Warner Home Video - Victor/Victoria
- Warner Studio - Mosquito Coast
- Warner Studio - That's Dancing!
- Warner Studio - The Color Purple
- Warner Studios - 10
- Warner Studios - Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
- Warner Studios - Batman Returns
- Warner Studios - Blade Runner
- Warner Studios - Blazing Saddles
- Warner Studios - Cobra
- Warner Studios - Deal Of The Century
- Warner Studios - Innocent Blood
- Warner Studios - New Jack City
- Warner Studios - Pee Wee's Big Adventure
- Warner Studios - Quest For Camelot
- Warner Studios - Spies Like Us
- Warner Studios - The Frisco Kid
- Warner Studios - The Goonies
- Warner Studios - The Lost Boys
- Warner Studios - The Nutcracker Prince
- Warner Studios - Under Siege (European)
Star Wars Artist Series: John Alvin
October 14, 2004
From Celluloid to Canvas
As a preeminent designer and illustrator of cinema art and one-sheets, artist John Alvin has created some of the world's most widely recognizable movie art including the collectible Star Wars Tenth Anniversary poster as well as posters for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Blade Runner, The Lion King, Blazing Saddles, and many, many more. Alvin has also produced many special works for the Star Wars saga; hisStar Wars Concert and Star Wars Tenth Anniversary poster are among the most collectible Star Wars art in the market today. Additionally, the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. exhibited Alvin's The Phantom of the Paradise as one of the best posters of the 20th Century. Recently, Alvin was commissioned by Twentieth Century Fox to create three new paintings for the international video re-release of the Star Wars Trilogy. As a youth, Alvin was almost as fascinated with the previews of coming attractions as he was with the movies themselves. He couldn't wait for the Sunday paper to arrive to see what movies were playing. "From the time I was 12, I guided myself toward the entertainment industry, at times unknowingly." Alvin reveals, "The closest I could get to the movies without being an actor, author or cinematographer, was to draw 'terrific art' about them." Alvin acquired a full array of artist's skills and techniques as a student of the distinguished Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. After college, Alvin found himself working for the prestigious Hanna-Barbera animation studio. "In my first years out of art school, freelance work was irregular and as my wife Andrea and I were beginning our life together, Hanna-Barbera offered me a chance to bring home a weekly paycheck," Alvin recalls. "Andrea was then a professional animator and for a short while, we both worked there. I designed and drew layouts that set up the scenes for animators." In 1974, after a year working with Hanna-Barbera, and doing freelance work on the side, Alvin got his chance to put his love of film and his artist training to work by creating the campaign art for Mel Brooks' comedic Western Blazing Saddles. "It turned out that Mr. Brooks was unhappy with all the advertising materials to date and this proved to provide the outside chance for some one new (me) to give it a try," Alvin says. "He loved what I painted and that started a very interesting and rewarding career for me." When Alvin is hired to create a one-of-a-kind poster for a film he will sometimes get to see a rough cut of the feature. "This is the most ideal because it gives me a very good idea of what the audience will soon experience," Alvin says. "On certain occasions, I've been given only a script. In almost all instances, I work from still photos from the production and, if they are available, special unit photography. Concept art tends to be exactly that and not necessarily completely accurate as to what's on the screen."
Star Wars Artist Series: John Alvin
October 14, 2004
An Extra-Terrestrial Project
When Alvin was creating the memorable poster for E.T. he discovered that he had to show as little "spoiler" material as possible, but still convey the adventure and excitement the movie had to offer. "E.T. is a good example of a most challenging assignment," Alvin explains. "I could not show the main character as he was, early on, a secret. The cast was wonderful but at that time, there were no big names and famous faces to show. The poster had to be symbolic and still true to the story and interesting enough to get people to want to see the film." This most challenging assignment turned out to be one of Alvin's most rewarding projects, earning him the Hollywood Reporter Key Art Awards' grand prize, and it was the only movie poster ever to be honored with the Saturn Award from The Academy of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Films. Aside from creative challenges with creating film posters, Alvin found his biggest obstacle to be time itself. "Coming up with a concept that is appropriate to the film isn't easy," Alvin interjects. "Resistance from those with a less creative view of the task ahead and politics get in the way. I try to overcome these and any other unforeseen obstacles by persevering with why I'm there in the first place: to create imagery. In the face of resistance, this is sometimes the most difficult thing to commit to and accomplish. Also, over the years, I have developed an unfailing belief in myself and my skills. Now, with greater experience, I have finally learned to trust my instincts and it is paying off in spades." For over 30 years, Alvin has created award-winning posters for a number of films including several animated features from Disney Studios such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. Many memorable science fiction and fantasy films have also been represented by Alvin's work including Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Dark Man, Arachnophobia, Cocoon, The Lost Boys, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Willow, Blade Runner and Legend. Alvin's art has such a strong identity with the films they promoted that they are still used to advertise the films' re-releases, video covers and other special uses. "I feel that the most rewarding posters are the ones that keep showing up time after time on video and DVD packaging and in ads many years after I created the artwork," Alvin confesses. "I have no control over such displays and it's very gratifying to see that people still want to relate my image with a particular film. Blazing Saddles is like that: they still use the image nearly thirty years later. The same for E.T., Blade Runner, The Lion King and Victor/Victoria, just to name a few."
Star Wars Artist Series: John Alvin
October 14, 2004
With all the film campaigns Alvin has contributed to with his art, the Star Wars saga is one of his favorite film series to work with, having been a fan of the films since their initial theatrical release 27 years ago. "Theater audiences were lining up around the block night after night and Darth Vader appeared on the cover of Time magazine," Alvin recalls. "The impact on my life is reflected in the impact on my art and Star Wars has been a key part of my career since then. It still is and will be for a long time." Alvin's first Star Wars poster featured the two famous droids C-3PO and R2-D2 as musicians. "The Star Wars Concert poster has become very rare and quite collectable," Alvin says. Another very collectible and fan-treasured poster was a wide banner-like poster celebrating the 10th anniversary of Star Wars, made available in 1987. "Using the tagline 'The first ten years' on my Tenth Anniversary Star Wars poster was my idea. It seemed more uplifting and promising to commemorate the first ten as though there would be no future limit and, so far there hasn't been. In the poster, I also wanted to reflect the broad expanse of the widescreen cinematic vision we all saw in a theater," Alvin adds. "As most posters are vertical, I thought the anniversary piece should remind us of the movie experience and hence, the horizontal format. I wanted fans to be carried along again as Luke is compelled by great forces to recognize and embrace his destiny. We see what he sees as though he is saluting the very saga we see displayed within the larger-than-life title." Alvin has also taken his appreciation of Star Wars into his personal work by developing a series of paintings called "The Force of Influence" wherein each painting depicts a critical relationship between two or more characters. In "A Destiny Unfolds" Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi looms over a young Luke Skywalker. "Obi-Wan is the means by which Luke is drawn toward his own destiny and as the Jedi Knight's tale comes to a physical end, he must point 'the new hope' in the right direction if there is ever to be peace in the galaxy," Alvin explains. "He profoundly influences Luke by what he says to him and when he says it. I wanted to show respect for the great character of Obi-Wan and at the same time, pay homage to Sir Alec Guinness who so brilliantly portrayed him. "Kenobi's presence is grand, full of wisdom and larger than life," Alvin continues. "He dominates the scene and yet he enfolds and cradles the innocent farm boy Luke -- for all intents and purposes, a lost youth with no direction or goal. Yoda's magnificent and enduring influence on Obi-Wan is gently suggested by the ghosted image of the Jedi Master in the sky. I wanted to set a mood of somber purpose and yet one of great affection and regard. Of all my work, this is one of my favorites." In another poster in Alvin's "The Force of Influence" series -- "Like Father, Like Son" -- the Fett family is the subject of honor. "I thought that there are few more profound relationships than that of father and son in life and this is especially true of the Star War saga," Alvin explains. "Like any long time fan, I was captivated by Boba Fett and I thought it interesting to pose him at rest and full of potential violence. I like to think that the fire behind him depicts the gruesome end of yet another bounty. Look at the tip of his flame thrower. It's very hot as though he was making good use of it and he has now turned to us and we should be fearful. "Promoting our fear is the lethal legacy Boba Fett brings with his considerable skills, and this heritage is shown in the proactive and very dangerous posture of his father, the legendary Jango Fett," Alvin continues. "It's as though Boba wants us to know that he is the logical extension of his father and everything we fear about him, we do so with good reason. I wanted to portray the Fett lineage to reflect of the powerful hold these characters have had on all of us from the instant George Lucas put them on screen." In addition to his Star Wars series, Alvin has also created specialty pieces for the Star Wars Fan Club including the poster art for Star Wars Celebration I. Alvin confesses that there are still plenty of Star Wars characters he'd like to depict in his artwork, including Queen Amidala and her daughter Princess Leia Organa, as well as many of the Jedi Knights. "I think all of the principal Jedi Knights are very interesting as are their inter relationships," Alvin says. "I would love to portray Jabba the Hutt and Han Solo with Chewbacca. They worked for Jabba, apparently just before we met them in Episode IV. The characters I would love to portray the most, however, are those most familiar to us as they will mature in Episode III -- Anakin/Darth Vader and (again) Obi-Wan Kenobi and the conflict between them." When Alvin sits down to begin a new Star Wars project, he finds that his Muse can be accessed easily by taking a brief walk down memory lane. "When working on any image relative to the Star Wars saga, all I have to remember is how I felt when I first saw the Rebel Blockade Runner overtaken by the Imperial Star Destroyer in the opening of Episode IV," Alvin explains. "From that moment on, I was forever a part of the Star Wars universe. Everyone who has experienced the Saga has some anchor point of attachment to the story and they are all as fine and exhilarating to them as that opening sequence is to me. What I must add to that feeling whenever I'm beginning some new Star Wars art is whatever it takes to be absolutely true to the texture of the story and the enduring nature of the characters that George Lucas has created for us to enjoy. I believe the story is character-driven and that the mythology inherent in such an epic is the predominant feature that binds the story together and must be considered creatively. The hardware, the aliens, the locations all act in support of the core storyline that introduces us to the Skywalker lineage and the destiny of its members." His limited edition Star Wars art prints "A Destiny Unfolds" and "Like Father, Like Son" are available for purchase at StarWarsShop.com.
Here is a link to pictures of his posters:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John Alvin (November 24, 1948 - February 6, 2008) was an award-winning cinematic artist and painter who illustrated some of the world's most recognizable movie posters.  Alvin created movie posters, which are also known as key art, for over 135 films over the course of his career, beginning with the poster for Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles in 1974. His style of art for his posters became known as Alvinesque by friends and colleagues in the entertainment industry.
Alvin's work included the movie posters for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Color Purple and Gremlins. He also created the anniversary posters for Star Wars.
1 Early life
7 External links
 Early life
John Alvin was born on November 24, 1948, in Hyannis, Massachusetts.  His parents were in the United States military, so Alvin and his family moved around often early in life. He and his parents finally settled permenantly in the Monterey, Calfornia, area when Alvin was in high school. Alvin's interest in movie posters reportedly began early in life. He reportedly looked forward to the Sunday newspaper as a child so he could peruse the latest movie advertisements. 
Alvin graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles in 1971. He worked as a freelance artist following his graduation.
Alvin's first official movie art campaign was for the poster for Blazing Saddles, directed by Mel Brooks, in 1974. Movie posters were considered to be the preeminent means of advertising new films at the time and often appeared in newspapers and billboards.
Alvin, who was working as an animator at an animation studio at the time, was invited to work on the Blazing Saddles poster by a friend. Alvin took an unusual path when designing the movie poster. He designed a serious movie poster, which incorporated unusual and quirky elements from the film. For example, in the poster, Alvin depicted Mel Brooks, who plays a Yiddish-speaking Native American chief in the film, is depicted wearing a headdress inscribed with the phrase, Kosher for Passover. The joke had been suggested by Alvin's wife, Andrea.
Alvin's work on Blazing Saddles was liked by both Mel Brooks, as well as others in the industry. He went on to work on a number of Brooks' later films, including Young Frankenstein, which was also released in 1974.
Another of Alvin's most famous cinematic posters was his work for Stephen Speilberg's 1982 film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Alvin designed film's iconic poster showing E.T.'s finger touching the finger of his human friend, Elliott, finger tip to finger tip. The fingers create a glow where they touch. The idea for the poster was reportedly suggested by Stephen Spielberg, and was inspired by Michelangelo's painting, The Creation of Adam. The E.T. poster was personally important to Alvin. He used his own daughter, Farah Alvin, as the human hand model for the poster.
Alvin has created artwork for more than 135 film campaigns over the span of three decades. His work for such high profile film studios as New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Disney Studios and Lucasfilm Ltd., including Blade Runner, Cocoon, The Lost Boys, Predator, The Princess Bride, Gremlins, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Jurassic Park. He also created the anniversary posters and other artwork for the for the 30th anniversary Star Wars Celebration. His recent high profile campaigns included commissioned artistic posters for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter film series and Walt Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean films.
Alvin, and the images he created for his films, often played a key role in the succcess of a film. John Sabel, the executive vice president of creative print advertising at Walt Disney Pictures, who often worked with Alvin, told the Los Angeles Times that, "There was a reason why The Lion King did the numbers that it did... There was a reason why 'Hunchback [of Notre Dame]' became a big success. It's because of the images that were produced, and a lot of those were John Alvin's paintings."
Alvin's poster for The Phantom of the Paradise was exhibited in the Smithsonian Museum as being one of the best posters of the Twentieth Century.
Alvin began to focus more on cinematic fine art in recent years, as the importance of movie posters has gradually been usurped by newer forms of advertising, such as the Internet marketing of new films. Alvin's fine art portfolio centered on movies artistically, rather than on advertising.
His most recent work was as an artistic contributor to the campaign of the Walt Disney Pictures film, Enchanted, which was released in December 2007.
"With any of my cinematic art, I want the viewer to embrace and relive the magic that we all felt when we go to the movies." - John Alvin in a 2006 Art Business News article.
John Alvin died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 59 on February 6, 2008, in Rhinebeck, New York.  He was survived by his wife, Andrea, his daughter, Farah Alvin, a Broadway actress, as well as his sister, Suzanne Alvin.
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Please help improve this article with relevant internal links. (February 2008)
Anchor Bay Entertainment:
Artisan Entertainment: The Fabulous Baker Boys
Buena Vista Home Entertianment: Earnest Scared Stupid, Mr. Destiny
Columbia Tristar: Bite The Bullit, By The Sword, Hanover Street, Hook, Lawrence Of Arabia, Old Gringo, Flatliners
Walt Disney Studios: Aladdin, Arachnophobia, Beauty And The Beast, Big Wednesday, Hercules, Mulan, Newsies, Pinocchio, Rescuers Down Under, Shipwrecked, Snow White, Tall Tale, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, The Three Musketeers
Fox Home Entertainment: Mother, Jugs, And Speed, Raw Deal, The Verdict, Thumbelina, Dying Young
Image Entertainment: Short Circuit, The Twilight Zone
MGM: Rainman, Texasville, Betrayed, City Slickers, Fritz The Cat, Leviathan, Losin' It, Rancho Deluxe, Red Dawn, Running Scared, Solarbabies, Spaceballs, The Princess Bride, Young Frankenstein
Paramount Pictures: Star Trek Vi: The Undiscovered Country, The Golden Child
Twentieth Century Fox: Phantom Of The Paradise, Star Wars: The Concerts, The Turning Point, Star Wars 10th Anniversary, Project X, Rhinestone, Silent Movie, Willow, Alien (15th Anniversary), High Anxiety, History Of The World Part 1, Cocoon, Cocoon The Return, Conrack
Universal Music & Video Distribution: Legend, Melvin And Howard
Universal Studios: Always, Cape Fear, Darkman, E.T., The Milagro Beanfield War
Vestron Video: Ironweed
Warner Brothers Studios: Cats Don't Dance, Empire Of The Sun, My Favorite Year, S.O.B., Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, Joe Vs. The Volcano, Gremlins, Innerspace, Victor/Victoria, Mosquito Coast, That's Dancing!, The Color Purple, 10, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Batman Returns, Blade Runner, Blazing Saddles, Cobra, Deal Of The Century, Innocent Blood, New Jack City, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Quest For Camelot, Spies Like Us, The Frisco Kid, The Goonies, The Lost Boys, The Nutcracker Prince, Under Siege
Other:Royal Flash, Serial, Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother, Smile, Nickel Ride, North, Arthur II, Lisa
Stewart, Jocelyn. "John Alvin, 59; created movie posters for such films as 'Blazing Saddles' and 'E.T.'", Los Angeles Times, 2008-02-10. Retrieved on 2008-02-10.
"Movie poster artist John Alvin dies, Campaign designer worked on 135 movies", Variety Magazine, 2008-02-08. Retrieved on 2008-02-10.
 External links
John Alvin's official home page
John Alvin at the Internet Movie Database
John Alvin fan site
Los Angeles Times: John Alvin, 59; created movie posters for such films as 'Blazing Saddles' and 'E.T.'
Learn About Movie Posters (Artist Listing)
Internet Movie Posters (Artist gallery)
Press release announcing the passing of John Alvin
List of John Alvin movie posters, 1974-1999
The Artwork of John Alvin
San Jose Metro, "From 'Blade Runner' to 'Batman Forever,' poster artist John Alvin captures the soul of a film in a single, unforgettable image" by Richard von Busack, September 5, 1996
Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Alvin