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Movie Poster of the Week: “A Field in England” and the Posters of Jay Shaw

Recent work from one of the finest contemporary American movie poster designers.

Two years ago, almost to the day, I posted a piece about the Mondo poster for Ben Wheatley’s Kill List on the day of that film’s opening. The poster was designed by a new up and coming designer named Jay Shaw whom I interviewed for the piece. At the time he’d been designing posters “for a little over a year.” Two years later and a new Wheatley film, A Field in England, opens today (in between Wheatley made another MPOTW favorite, Sightseers) with an official release poster by Jay Shaw for Drafthouse Films.

In the interim, Shaw has become one of the most exciting and sought after movie poster designers in the country. His work is consistently witty, arresting and superbly executed. His uncharacteristically colorful poster for the psychedelic war story A Field in England nods to the lysergic fever dreams of Jodorowsky (and also has an interesting, unconventional solution to the billing block).

Continuing his association with Wheatley, Wednesday saw the unveiling of a dramatic teaser poster for what now must be one of the most anticipated films in development: Wheatley’s upcoming adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise starring Tom Hiddleston.

Shaw has produced a number of other theatrical release posters over the past couple of years: this elegant design, made about a year and a half ago for Factory 25’s indie Marvin Seth and Stanley, is an absolute knockout with one of the most striking title treatments I’ve seen in ages...

Other standouts include his simple, Polish-inspired design for Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy (opening next month) for A24 Films...

His pitch-perfect retro horror poster for the high school virus flick Cooties, which just played in Sundance...

And his somberly exquisite design for Kim Ki-duk’s Pieta which was released last Spring...

As great as all his theatrical posters are, I am especially in love with some of Shaw’s work for Third Man Records’ Light and Sound Machine nights at the Belcourt in Nashville. Though I know these are commissioned works and not so-called fan posters, it is still refreshing to see this kind of graphic ingenuity poured into not the usual suspects (Wes Anderson, Kubrick, The Big Lebowski, etc.) but such left-field, avant-garde auteurs as Jon Jost and Nam June Paik.

Shaw continues to do work for Mondo and last fall produced a stunning variant on Drafthouse Films’ bonkers cult classic revival The Visitor, where again his execution and lettering is just sublime. (You can read a fascinating dialogue between Shaw and Brandon Schaeffer, who designed the excellent release poster, at Film.com)

A lot of Shaw’s other Mondo work explores his startling use of black and white, and occasionally red, such as these amazing posters for Paths of Glory and Platoon, made over a year apart but obviously much in the same vein...

...these designs for Paranormal Activity 4 from 2012...

...and his devastating and inspired ink splash poster for The Act of Killing.

Finally, I’d like to showcase this inventive series of monochrome designs for classic 70s (and one 80s) thrillers which he made for a group show at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles. 

Jay Shaw is as prolific as he is talented and if this has whet your appetite there is plenty more to see on his website Kingdom of Nonsense including Criterion covers, record sleeves, gig posters and an alternative design for A Field in England that is almost as good as the release poster.

“Produced by Jeremy Thomas” too, wow. Mr Wheatley is working at quite the enviable pace.

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