Paul Shipper, Poster Art Master

Eleven months ago, this author observed the rise of quality poster art, believing that the medium was moving away from computer-based editing and returning to the hand-crafted stylings of years past. That same article cited Bryan Morton as the chief instigator of the movement, yet neglected to mention another illustrator who is reinvigorating this long-lost artform: Paul Shipper.

Unlike Morton, who works for the Los Angeles-based marketing firm Lindeman & Associates, Shipper is a freelance artist who lives and works England’s south west. On his personal website, Shipper says that he is “on a self-described mission to bring [back] the beloved ‘old school’ illustrated movie poster”, a cause which studios and distributors are only too keen to assist him with.

Shipper has been commissioned to draw many posters for the big studios, despite residing a great distance from Hollywood. One of his most prominent and widely-recognised works is the release poster for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One.

Ready Player One poster
Paul Shipper’s awesome poster for Ready Player One

Much like the film it promotes, Shipper’s poster is very much nostalgic in tone – even possessing Spielberg’s trademark lens-flare – and not dissimilar to the illustrations of fellow artists Drew Struzan, Richard Amsel and John Alvin, who also worked during the Eighties. Coarse and granular, but nonetheless detailed, there’s no mistaking this work of art for a Photoshopped product.

Prior to this drawing, Shipper was hired by LucasFilm to promote Star Wars: The Last Jedi in his distinct style. The resulting illustration was not used as part of a wider marketing campaign, but instead placed in select cinemas for passers-by to gush at.

Last Jedi - Dolby
Paul Shipper’s work for Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Similarly, Marvel Studios also approached Shipper to create a poster for their superhero epic, Avengers: Infinity War, eventually using his work in the exact same manner. Unlike the previous two examples, this illustration utilises the colours of the six infinity stones to highlight the movie’s protagonists.

Infinity War - Shipper
And here is Paul Shipper’s Avengers poster

While the artwork above is quite striking, this author prefers the wide-release Infinity War poster which, if the lighting and shading is to be believed, has also been hand-drawn.

Infinity War poster
Release poster for Avengers: Infinity War

Shipper’s work is not limited to blockbuster releases, as smaller distributors have also hired him to promote their films. A particular favourite of this author is his one-sheet for 1979’s Mad Max, which was created for the 35th anniversary of the original release.

Mad Max - Paul Shipper
Shipper’s exquisite poster for Mad Max

Finally, there’s this poster – crafted in collaboration with the aforementioned Morton – of Stan Lee, acknowledging his contribution to comic books and pop-culture. This was later presented as a gift to the man himself.

Stan Lee poster
What a gift it is!

With all of the posters above, it’s clear that Paul Shipper is the most prolific contributor to this renaissance of poster art. Along with Bryan Morton, he’s proving that the techniques of yesteryear can still have a role in the largely-digitised world of marketing, even if it’s a secondary one.

Please don’t go anywhere, Mr Shipper – we’ll need your talents in the years to come.

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