|You could have chosen a
million other careers, from basket weaving to
ship captain... why an artist?
Basket weaving wasnt offered
to the boys in High School when I was impressionable,
only to the girls and as far as Captain of a ship,
I get sea sick. The only coarse open to me seemed
to be this art thing. I was identified early in
my childhood as one of those peculiarly talented
kids. I have been told I could draw to communicate
before I could talk. Some people still accuse
me of this problem but I have learned to live
with it. The only trouble I have with this these
days is that once I had developed my artistic
abilities enough for others to appreciate them
then they wanted me to turn to language to explain
myself. I think this is going to be one of those
experiences. So please, as I am happy to speak
with you and to share with the fans of Indy and
even of my work, talking is still not my best
form of communication. Bear with me and dont
listen too carefully to my words but rather try
to hear my intentions, cut me some slack and listen
with a little loving forgiveness in your hearts.
If you weren't an illustrator, what job would
you like to do?
I get this feeling that an artist
with little work is wondering what else in the
world an artist could possibly do if not make
art. Well, Im not an employment counselor
and I dont believe one could help us anyhow.
As most people suspect, we artists are a peculiar
group. We are peculiar because we are of the group
that tends to go with our feelings rather than
with our heads. We have keen senses, we see the
invisible, feel the unspoken and communicate to
others hearts and feelings rather than appealing
to their rational sides. What else in the world
are we suitable for?
I cant speak for anyone else
but my other passion is for God. I tried to be
a minister for over twenty years but as the Christ
said, Few are on the road. My passion
to come to know God and to help others didnt
mesh with the politics of the Church, their power
struggles or their human doctrines so it didnt
work out well for me. Well, maybe it did. I learned
not to trust in earthling man in whom no
salvation belongs. I saw clearly the freedom
the Christ bought for me, the love of the Father
and the truth of his Word, so now I follow only
Him and am left with no other form of expression
or employment but to use my God given gift to
create art and to make people happier with a little
beauty in their lives that my art can give.
How would you define an artist? and or as
Trevor Grove asks: What is your definition of
like trying to translate music into written notation.
Its never really the same thing is it? To
try to define in words what is a visual experience
does an injustice to the power of the medium.
There was a time in history when
artist could easily define art for themselves,
for the artistic community and for others. This
all went haywire at the onslaught of WWI when
so many of the values of mankind were destroyed.
Art took a left turn away from wanting to improve
peoples lives and instead wanted to shock
them, disturb them and generally put us off. Would
you be friends with someone who acted like that?
So Modern Art lost their historical audience.
Only those educated to appreciate
this thinking collects art now; only critics can
tell what is good and valuable. With all the rhetoric
needed to explain the art, who can define it?
Who would listen if we used the historic definitions,
the old fashioned and outdated and goals of the
artist today? We, I, would sound pretty stupid
and old fashioned to preach it today, but I do.
Beauty, peace, truth and love. You
been watching Moulin Rouge? The Bohemian
ethic. Not new even for a movie but always seems
to have been a fight to preach beneficial attitudes.
This is why I make my paintings: to improve the
quality of peoples lives. To reflect the
creation, as Michelangelo said, is the best we
can do. This is a real gift to humanity. This
is something of real quality and value to others.
Not difficult to understand because it is natural
to our souls. Everyone appreciates the value of
love, peace, truth and beauty but our society
seems to devalue the whole reason for human existence
by demeaning these values. This is my goal, my
values and my definition of art.
Argue away, but this is what I am aiming for.
I'm going to interrupt here
and add something of my own. This is coming from
me, James Bradley. I love art, not for how one
could describe it in words, when if it is good
art, one could never degrade it by describing
with words, but for how it makes me feel. My eyes
and mind are moved my color and emotion. Like
when a song causes you to tear up, not from the
words, but by the emotion the words are sung with
or by that solo fluglehorn played passionately.
I love how art makes me feel. How it makes me
reflect. When I look at a piece, no matter how
many times, and its as if looking at it and feeling
it for the first time and losing myself from the
present to be captivated with every stroke or
touch... then its art to me.
My favorite, little known by others, is Monet's:
"The Customs Officer's Cabin, Morning Impression"
The painting had been reported as stolen many
years ago, only to be recovered in a storage bin
as part of an insurance scam. When I saw it, I
was reminded of Whitecliff by the Sea, from the
Ghost and Mrs. Muir. I have a fantasy of escape
in my mind when the world weighs heavy. This painting
is a part of that fantasy. I see it hung on the
walls of my imagination and am calmed by its sheer
beauty and how it calms me.
Your art, not necessarily the posters, although
they too are great, the art that I occasionally
come across or that you have featured on your
site, are wonderful. They are pieces that illicit
a reaction from me. How ever minor or major, the
scenes or colors or styles or whatever, "move"
me in some way. Your piece Remember reminds me
of when I lost my grandfather. He was and still
is the most manly and caring man I've ever known.
I miss him very much. Your painting made me feel
like I can talk to him at any time, which I often
find myself doing when I pass his picture or pick
up his pipe. The colors are warm to me. They embrace
me and remove any doubt or sadness of my grandfather's
passing. I know that he is safe and I am alive.
This is the answer to the question:
"What do I want people to think about my
You have inspired many young artists to want to
create art, are there any artists in the world
that have inspired you?
Of course there are. Inspire: To
affect, guide, or arouse by divine influence,
to fill with enlivening or exalting emotion, to
stimulate to action; motivate. I have always gotten
a rush from the masters: I view their work and
I have all these emotions, inspiration. I see
what they did and I am moved to paint too. The
masters, where ever they are found. I trained
in what we call the great masters.
Artists like El Greco, Rubens, Michelangelo, Titian,
Carrivagio, Giatto, Pontormo, Gaugan, Degas, Van
Gough, on and on. I learned from what came before
and learned not to copy as much as to be inspired.
Between the masters and the Creation itself I
have truly been inspired by the divine. So I try
to paint in such a way as to create the same essential
effect in others that those who inspire me have
I recall an experience when attending
a show of El Grecos work. It was the only
time a large collection of his work had traveled
to the U.S. and we had to go to Dallas, Texas
to see it. While he is one of the most inspiring
artists for me, I had never seen too many of his
originals. As I walked through the exhibit the
emotions growing me, grew and grew. Finally I
stopped in front of a piece that I had never known
of before. I stood in awe and the more I looked
and the more I saw the more it worked its
way into my heart. Slowly I realized that my eyes
were tearing up over the overwhelming beauty I
was seeing. This is what art is for. This is what
I am inspired to recreate. This is the majesty
According to your website
you've worked on some classic pieces, like Creature
From the Black Lagoon.
Were you inspired by any of the classic poster
artists? If so, which ones and why?
The concept for the creation of
this limited edition was not to recreate a period
piece of art. The client wanted to have, in his
words, a piece of art by me for a movie that deserved
what I could bring to it: a collectable work of
art for a classic film that deserved a revisit.
It is a movie he loves and thought others would
appreciate a painting that captured it in a way
that was more representative of how the film has
touched peoples lives. While I looked at
the work Reynold Brown had done for the film originally,
I did not want to either copy him or even rehash
the idea or composition he had done. Something
more was desired, not modern or even of our time,
me. So I approached
it not as an advertisement but more of an illustration
of the feeling, memory and emotional impact of
the story. An additional fun thing for me about
the project was not only getting to do a painting
for a film from my childhood was that the original
posters were painted by an artist with whom I
studied when I was in school. What goes around
you into the world of movie related artwork?
Ive answered this many a time
because I think perhaps others are looking for
a way into the film industry as well. My way is
no way to get in. I didnt wind up working
in the movies because I had desired it, pursued
it, had an in to it, was even aware of it as a
possibility, had been inspired by poster work,
had followed it as a kid, had a class about it
in school or knew a movie star, director or writer.
It was simple but hard. I attended school in L.A.,
stayed in L.A. to pursue work and through working
at whatever came my way was eventually seen by
the film industry and was given an assignment
for a film. Slowly and patiently over time more
and more movie work came my way as I was able
to please the clients and was learning what the
creator of PVP
Drew, you've created posters for hundreds of movies.
Is there any particular franchise job that still
has the power to knock you out of your comfort
zone? Something that makes you say "How am
I gonna pull this off" going into it?
Knock me out of my comfort? Theres
an interesting perception of what my job is like.
I suppose to an outsider my job, that is my work
appears to be magic. Therefore, something that
is or seems to be so hard to conjure may even
appear impossible. That may even be so for some
artists. The ability to do good work is rare and
to do exceptional work, by definition, is extremely
rare and the rarest of all is the inventor, the
originator. For me I was never scared to venture
in. Perhaps I am naive but I see every job as
an opportunity. I like figuring out how to do
new things. Im curious about my art and
am always seeking something to broaden my horizons.
I dont remember ever being uncomfortable
about art. A commission that requires a new approach
or concept a design or technique is just fun to
me. One mans comfort is another mans
fear I suppose. Different personalities are what
make life interesting but the differences also
make room and need for the talents of everyone.
Do you ever find
it difficult to reflect yourself into a commission?
In other words, to find something to connect with?
What's a day in the studio with Drew Struzan like?
The grand thing about being an intuitive,
feeling person is that I can sympathize with and
comprehend the feelings and thoughts of others.
Its just a personality trait that serves
me well as an artist. So just because a story
or movie may not be a reflection of my experience
or my point of view does not mean that I cannot
find the value it has for others. Any movie made,
someone had a point, and a desire or something
they found to be of value, so all I do is to see
what that is. Besides sympathizing with the intent,
what I am also doing is making art. I make something
beautiful out of the subject with good composition,
color, drawing, technique, and style. In the end
it is all just materials for me to make a powerful
and beautiful image.
Whats a day like? Not all
that different from most peoples day in
general. Early to work and at it till the day
is done, or the job is done. The difference is
that I work alone. No one to drive me or check
on me to see if I am working. Im motivated
every day by deadlines, the need to feed and clothe
my family and in the end, I love to do what I
do. Theres the blessing for me; I get to
make my way by doing something I love. I know
this is rare in this old world and I value my
gift every day. Something else I appreciate is
what would drive most other people insane, I like
that my job is different every day. Every day
presents a new problem to solve, a new client,
a new job, something different. Repetition drives
me silly. Isnt it wonderful how we were
all given a talent for something and that our
personalities match what is needed to fulfill
that talent, that gift? (Of course we have to
discover our talent and then be blessed with opportunity.)
Believe me, I know how good I have it that I found
what I could do early in life and spent my time
making it happen.
Generally, how long does it take you to illustrate
a one-sheet for a Hollywood production from concept
to final rendering?
Its always different. Every
job has its own parameters and circumstances.
Sometimes I have turned out a finished poster
illustration over night with nothing more than
a spoken go ahead. Other times it
is the other extreme. Small black and whites,
larger black and whites, color comprehensives
and sometimes more than one finished painting.
Then many times, changes to the finished painting,
over and over again. This can go on for months,
up to six months some times. Like I said, always
Now, speaking earlier of Movie Posters, you
were commissioned for a legendary set of films
featuring Indiana Jones. The work would include
posters, advertising and book covers. How did
such an opportunity come about? Can you share
some of the experiences you had, along the way,
of the Lost Ark
10th Anniversary poster.
The commissions to do Indiana Jones
work were never offered as a set. Each job, and
thats what they were, were offered one at
a time as the need arose. The first time I was
asked if I wanted to work on Indy was on 'Raiders
of the Lost Ark'. I dont recall how the
job came to me but here is what I do remember.
I was offered the international
poster to do. I wasnt provided with many
pictures to work from and only a one-paragraph
synopsis to help me understand the premise of
the film. It was pretty much supposed to be kept
a secret. I was working in the dark and had to
go with my senses and experience in the industry
to figure out just what approach to take. I did
three color comprehensives from which one was
chose with some alterations. I had Indy standing
with Marion crouching beside him. They requested
that I make Marion equal in presents with Indy,
heroic as well. I included the Nazis and they
asked for me to minimize their representation
in the piece. They liked my finished painting
with one exception. They changed their minds and
asked for me to paint in a different head on Marion.
I didn't do another thing on Indy
until 'Temple of Doom'. No matter how successful
a film and its advertising is, it seems
they always want to do something different the
next time around. The producers went with another
illustrator for the second film. For whatever
reason they were unhappy with the result of his
painting and as the film was opening they asked
me to give them my take on this film but in a
hurry as the film was opening. I did three drawings
in a day from which they chose one for me to paint
as a color comp. They approved the comp immediately
and I painted the finished painting in only about
four days. The whole process didnt take
but a week and they replaced the campaign with
my piece immediately.
'The last Crusade' came to me directly
from Paramount this third time. By then I was
the guy to use. I did many ideas for this film.
Perhaps some two- dozen black and white comprehensives
and some 4 full size color comprehensives. I painted
the finished illustration that was used as the
one sheet poster. I painted a second finished
piece that was used for the advance one sheet.
I did paintings for newspaper ads as well.
Jones and the Last Crusade advertise
Additionally Pepsi Cola had a tie
in with this film and the advertising agency for
Pepsi hired me to do a poster for Pepsi as well
as a painting for the six pack which decorated
the Pepsi carton. I also did point of purchase
standees and even my son picked up some work doing
illustrations for the Pepsi-Indy campaign.
When the book covers came along
it was George Lucas to the rescue. It was he who
said to Bantam, since I was already doing the
'Star Wars' book covers for Bantam, to use me
as I was the guy with whos style Indy was
associated. That resulted in my being allowed
to do a dozen book covers for Indy.
Ive done a couple computer game box covers
for Indy games, one of which I am working on right
I also got the job to paint the
poster and the logo for the 'Indiana Jones Adventure
Ride' at Disneyland. They also used me at the
request of George Lucas. It was at the unveiling
of the poster for the press that I had the opportunity
to really talk with George and to get to know
him. I also spoke with Harrison Ford for this
project. At first Disney did not have the right
to use the likeness of Harrison and I couldnt
see doing a painting of Indy without including
Harrison, he is Indy after all. Disney said if
I could get Harrison to agree then I could go
ahead. What, me get permission from Harrison Ford
when Disney couldnt? Right! Just as you
might hope, I called Harrison on the phone and
he was as nice and quiet spoken as you would think.
He graciously said since I was painting the picture
that I could have permission to go ahead and include
his likeness. Thats the Indy we know and
I also did some work for the Young
Indy films. I did the first promotional ads and
was asked to do the video box covers by George
Lucas. After I had done all the designs and received
all the approvals for the finished paintings the
job went south for two years and when it came
back politics stole it from me and someone else
wound up painting my drawings. Now that was sad.
Can you describe
what working with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg
The best working experiences of
my career. Both men treat others like real human
beings. You know what I mean if you have ever
not been treated like humans but like dirt, like
lesser beings and slaves. These men are the best
because they are good. I like them. Always being
appreciative and kind to me.
George is particularly fun for me as he wanted
to be an illustrator when young so he appreciates
and values illustrators. He is also introverted
and quiet like me so we get along well. When we
are together we dont have to say much to
be understood. And I never forge that without
them I wouldnt have had a career.
Harrison Ford feel about your rendition of his
Ford as Indy sketch.
I think he likes it. When I had
a show of my work in Chicago it was coincidental
with the filming of 'The Fugitive' there at the
same time. I called Harrison at his hotel one
evening and invited him to the opening of my show.
He had to decline as that happened to be the last
night of shooting for the film but said, By
the way, thanks for the physic. He appreciated
how I rendered him on the book covers. He gave
me special permission for the Disney project as
well because he obviously trusts me at what I
do. I would guess that he approves.
It seems that a lot of Indiana Jones posters and
book covers are from a limited number of pictures
from the three movies. Are you given a certain
amount of pictures that you are authorized to
work from or can you create a picture from any
frame in the three movies?
Usually, all us artist are given
the same approved pictures from which
to work. Thats how it works in the industry.
Not every picture taken is appropriate for public
consumption. We only get the best to work from.
I also get a sneaking suspicion that while I pick
from thousands of images from which to do my original
works, after I have done the choosing and make
a particular image well know through my work,
others tend to chose the same likenesses I have
used as they have become the icon for the film
or actor. My work does have a tendency to become
the identifiable image for the characters.
Were you completely free in drawing the Indy novel
book covers or did the authors already have a
vision of what they'd like to see on the covers?
The authors dont have much
say when it comes to the covers for their books.
It is the publisher with whom the responsibility
lies to produce and promote the books. With the
Indy series it was with Bantam that I created
the covers. They would provide me with the manuscript
or a synopsis and I would come up with the images
and composition. There was an enormous amount
of freedom as compared to movie work. When I did
the first book I wanted to make the covers echo
the look of the pulp covers from the type adventure
books, magazines and the serialized films that
Indy was based on. I wanted to include Indy of
course, the object of his search and the setting
for the adventure on each of the covers. I also
painted the title in character with the period
look right into the artwork. As the series developed,
I no longer painted the title in the painting
as the distribution became international and an
English title wouldnt work for other countries.
Beyond my initial intent with the layout and the
subject matter I had freedom to conceive what
I wished and thought appropriate for each cover.
It was a delight to have had the opportunity to
do all those covers. I could only wish that there
would be more.
covers by Drew Struzan.
Eggs and Philosopher's
covers by Drew Struzan.
created the Indiana Jones art, was there anything
that wasn't produced? Did you, yourself, hold
Are you looking for other Indy works
that are like hidden treasure? You know if I leave
them buried, in a thousand years even they will
No, there are no undiscovered works. What you
may not have seen are not from holding back or
because they were intended to be used and werent.
All those comprehensives and studies I have done
were never intended to be released
to the public. Sure, few have seen them but they
may have wider distribution one day in a book
and Mark Walters from Hot
Fish Studios ask:
Is there any chance we'll see an Indy portfolio
CD-ROM similar to the Star Wars portfolio CD-ROM
you put out a few years back?
Struzan at the
Wouldnt that be nice? Many
have asked but not nearly enough to support the
effort. You see, I did the Star Wars CD-ROM as
a labor of love more than anything else. It was
initially conceived to be a book but the deal
went sour. After having put together all the materials
for the book I felt it a shame to let it languish.
So we put together the CD-ROM knowing that there
would not be any potential to ever profit from
it. We weighed the cost of manufacture and took
the risk. I am still in debt over this. I am happy
to have done it though because so many have enjoyed
the effort. So, I dont believe that I am
in the position to pursue another financial failure.
Indy will have to wait for a backer, a publisher
or a financial windfall for me to be able to think
about a CD-ROM devoted to Indy alone. Would be
nice though, and Indy surely deserves it.
Will any or has any of your work been available
as posters or in stores?
Nope. I have never made posters
just for sale. I am not much of a marketeer but
spend my time and energy on the art of my craft.
I find that those who devote a lot of time to
marketing their work naturally spend less time
on their art and therefore the art is diminished.
I spend my time on the art and therefore the marketing
I do have some limited editions that I have made
of the poster work. They are limited art pieces
and not considered posters nor are they for sale
in stores. The works are in Galleries. I understand
that there are many who wish to posses a good
copy of the work and in an effort to satisfy those
I am working with an art dealer who may find a
way to satisfy the market without an over abundance
of my time away from painting. It does take a
lot of effort so I am patient as we all must be.
Excluding your own work, many of your fans
would like to know what is your favorite work
of art and why?
Indiana Jones sketch.
Inevitably people ask this question.
There must be some sort of comfort or misunderstanding
in wanting to single out one piece to hold above
the rest. Or is it just such a common question
that it is asked for lack of anything else to
say? I really dont know what it would prove
to name a favorite. What, the one that is most
successful by which all others must be judged?
All this would miss the point of
painting more than one picture. There are many
desires and needs, uses and purposes, many different
reactions and emotions that can be derived form
the work. Each one springs from a particular need,
either mine or the requirements of a commission.
Each succeeds in its own purpose. This makes
me think of the definition of perfection.
Being completely suited for a particular purpose
or situation, lacking nothing essential to the
whole; complete of its nature or kind is to be
perfect. Perfection is not what so many seem to
think, that there is one-way and only one way
to do or be any particular thing. Many paintings
can be perfect and in their perfection they do
not need to be compared to other pictures that
can also be perfect in themselves. This leaves
room to live and work and accomplish forever.
What a tragedy it would be to think that we are
to reach a goal of perfection and in its
obtaining think that then there would be no reason
to go on, as that is our mistaken goal. For instance,
is to be a perfect person the end all to lifes
purpose? To obtain perfection would not be the
end all of lifes purpose but only the beginning
of living a life that is good and fulfilling.
So my aim is not to paint the one best picture
and then to have nothing else to paint but rather
lifes beautiful gift is that it is unending
in its opportunities and expressions, everything
we do could be perfect. You tell me when you get
enough love and then that would be all you would
Are you currently
working on any projects that you're able to talk
to us about?
with father sketch.
No. Not everything that I work on
comes to fruition. There are many jobs, there
are many attempts, and there are many dreams and
desires that never find fulfillment. It would
be foolish to publish them only to disappoint
when the never see the light. I would look foolish
and would be misdirecting to say all that I try
Besides, there is also a practical reason why
I cant say. Most of what I do is commercial
work and is for the purpose of advertising some
elses project. It is in their hands to decide
where and when that promotion is best seen and
people are made aware of it. It is even contractual
in most cases that I do not speak of the project
or show them to anyone until after the client
makes them public.
Do you have
any plans to do further Indiana Jones related
I dont plan them; I am commissioned
for projects that others create. When they do
something else Indy then I too would hope to get
the opportunity to paint another picture.
Is there anything that you haven't painted yet
that you are aching to do?
Indy and Marion sketch.
Uh huh. My head is stuffed with
ideas and my heart is bursting with desire to
paint untold numbers of works. Most of what I
do is generated through commercial commissions,
so I paint at the desire of others dreams. I also
have my desires that are personal but have little
time to explore them because of practical reasons.
Way back when I started school I chose illustration
so that I might have a better opportunity to make
a living. I still illustrate that we might get
along. That is a lifetime full of effort and work.
It leaves little time and energy except for my
dreams for more.
is uncertain for us all, but as an artist, where
would you like to be five years from now?
To that end I wish you all peace
and hope that you might pursue it, perhaps then
I will be with you in Paradise.