There are all manner of influences that inspire someone to be a designer. For me, and many other designers of my generation, it was the original Star Wars films. However, it was the first sequel with its great machinery, cool logo and inspiring poster that really set me on my current career choice.
There are two events that got me thinking about The Empire Strikes Back again. The first was the realisation that 2010 is the films 30th anniversary, as far as I’m concerned that’s too many passing years so let’s not dwell on the chronology. Secondly, and this is the really exciting bit, I was given a signed copy of the very poster I admired outside Wexford’s Abbey Cinema all those years ago.
The poster in question is the Style “B” version created by Tom Yung, a respected illustrator responsible for movie posters such as Gone with the Wind, Papillon, Le Mans and Ralph Bakshi’s animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. It followed the Roger Kastel poster used for the initial release and perfectly captured the more dramatic and, dare I say, darker tones of the sequel – Vaders outstretched hand formed a very strong focal point which worked beautifully with the movies big reveal.
Jungs illustration style perfectly suited George Lucas’ Star Wars movies. The saga itself was influenced by the film serials of the thirties like Flash Gordon and eschewed contemporary treatments such as an electronic score in favour of a more traditional approach to filmmaking. Of course Industrial Light + Magics groundbreaking special effects defined an era of summer blockbusters but the film still had an old style movie-making feel to it.
Anyway, long story short. My sister Karen married Zeno whose mother, Magda, knew Tom Jungs wife when they lived in California. One year Karen made the brave move of asking me what I’d like for a birthday present and sensing the opportunity of a lifetime I declared my desire for a Tom Jung signed poster of The Empire Strikes Back. And you know what, that’s exactly what I got.
It’s currently hanging proudly in our living room. My wifes more traditional homemaking style clashes with this somewhat, but a long-forgotten compromise was reached and the poster remains in place. After all I’d hate to have to choose between the poster and 17 years of marriage.
Today it continues to inspire me and reminds me of the impact of good design and the part it played in why I do what I do. And for that I’d like to say, thank you Tom Jung.