Now featured on TurningArt! It's a rather novel idea where subscribers can rent art prints for a monthly fee, as well as collect credit towards the purchase of both prints and original paintings. My page on their site can be found here.
At last it is happening -- www.richardamselmovie.com launched! January 17, 2016
The documentary Amsel: Illustrator of the Lost Art presents the first in-depth profile of legendary illustrator Richard Amsel (1947-1985), detailing the artist’s remarkable body of work while chronicling anenigmatic life marked with personal heartbreak, celebrity friendships, creative genius, and a tragic end at the age of thirty-seven from AIDS.
Amsel remains a titanic figure within the realm of entertainment art, with work ranging from celebrated movie posters (Raiders of the Lost Ark), to iconic album and concert posters (including famous portraits of Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand), to magazine covers. Yet while the artist’s work garnered considerable popularity, little has ever been revealed about the man himself.
This is not just a documentary about a movie poster artist. It is a human story of an artistic savant who achieved his first extraordinary success at the age of 21. It is a time capsule of New York’s gay culture in the seventies...and the onslaught of AIDS in the eighties. It is a reconstruction of a fractured life told through friends, celebrities, and colleagues, as well as a re-appreciation of an artist’s work.
I've been doing a number of interviews over the past few months, but there's plenty of road ahead. Nevertheless, I wanted to get the documentary's website off the ground early, as filming it will no doubt be a complex journey, with twists and turns in directions I can't yet imagine.
More importantly, I felt it necessary to reach out to the public, as, in the months ahead, I hope to connect with those who either knew Richard Amsel, or whose lives were touched by the man or his work in some way. There will also be a crowdfunding campaign in 2016, which is still in the planning stages.
The teaser poster, presented here, features a modified photo of Richard Amsel by the late photographer Kenn Duncan. Special thanks to the permissions office at The New York Public Library for allowing me to use Duncan's photo for this early internet campaign.
My first art book! January 3, 2016
I never really thought I'd have enough presentable artwork to warrant it, but what the heck -- it's a new year, and time to forge ahead.
I just finished the layout of my first "coffee table" art book, and am awaiting the hardcover proof from the printers in a week or two. It's admittedly short (merely 24 pages), but I'm excited by the way it looks so far.
I've done this mainly as a compact way to present my art portfolio to potential clients, but if the hardcover proof QC turns out OK, I'll be publishing a more affordable print on demand softcover version, for anyone who's interested. More info to come.
A number of people have asked me about copies of the book, now available on Shutterfly. The $37.95 price I know is a bit steep, I know, but it reflects only the manufacturing cost for print on demand. I make no profits or residuals from any sales, as it's designed only for showcasing my artwork for those who want a keepsake. On the plus side, Shutterfly often has discount promos for their subscribers.
Happy new year! Time to be Daring! January 2, 2016
There are so many things going on right now that it's hard for me to process them all. I'm feeling the post-holiday blues, while trying to force myself to have a positive outlook on the new year.
I'll be writing more on the late Ken Robinson soon. I've recently talked to his husband and cousin, and they plan on having a small getogether in L.A. around the end of the month. Ken and I had talked about my visiting him in his new home in Sacremento this Spring. Alas, that is not to be.
In the days between Christmas and New Year's, I had some time off, and wrapped up two creative projects. The first was this illustration of DRAGON'S LAIR, inspired by the current Indegogo campaign by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, to develop a short animated film pitch for a feature film adaptation of the classic cartoon videogame. (Dirk's pose here relied on a patchwork of different source elements from the DRAGON'S LAIR comic book, drawn by Fabio Laguna. It's only fitting that I give credit where credit is due.)
The artwork was painted in gouache on paper, but I opted to use my fancy new Cintiq to color it, and add the fire. I'm slowly trying to get into the modern age of digital "painting," but I'm pretty stubborn. However, the money I spent on the Cintiq is proving to be a wise investment.
Not that I was ever any good at playing the damn game. I must have spent serious moula as a kid at the arcades. A recent visit to L.A.'s 82 only proved that my skills faired no better as an adult.
The second creative project I'll be announcing tomorrow!
R.I.P.: Ken Robinson, 1939-2015. December 29, 2015
My friend and mentor, Ken Robinson, died yesterday. I'm too upset, and the news is too raw, for me to properly comment on this right now. I last spoke to Ken on Dec. 4th, so this is a big shock. I'm absolutely heartbroken.
Goodbye, Ken. I shall not see your like again.
Three Thorns captures Moonbeam award! Novemer 13, 2015
Hearty congrats to my friend Michael Gibney, whose book, The Brotherhood and the Shield: The Three Thorns, captured the 1st place Moonbeam award for pre-teen fiction/fantasy!
Now if only he could buy a new pair of glasses... :)
Intrada's expanded soundtrack of THE SECRET OF NIMH Novemer 5, 2015
I'm very proud to announce that my artwork is featured within Intrada's newly remastered and expanded edition of Jerry Goldsmith's score for THE SECRET OF NIMH. My art is featured inside the disc as an alternate "B" cover.
I'm absolutely thrilled and honored to have my work included in this release. The front cover repurposes the film's original poster, and rightly so -- for nothing could best the illustration by the late, great Tim Hildebrandt.
Special thanks to the guys at Intrada for a job well done, and for being so amicable. Thanks, too, to everyone who shared their kind words of support and enthusiasm about my artwork.
But don't buy the soundtrack for the packaging...buy it for THE MUSIC, which remains my personal favorite among all of Jerry Goldsmith's work. I can't wait to get my copy.
Speaking of which, here's a link to Intrada's site where you can purchase the soundtrack.
UPDATE: Finally got my copy of the CD and, God, I'll never tire of listening to Jerry Goldsmith's score -- especially now that it sounds better than ever. It's a very majestic, mature work, and perfectly captures the more complex, atmospheric tone of the story. Also love hearing Paul Williams' original demo for "Flying Dreams," which has some different lyrics against a simple piano arrangement.
Credit, too, to Jeff Bond's liner notes, which clearly define something I had never quite realized, but always somehow "sensed": one of the score's lietmotifs -- used only sparingly with scenes of the amulet -- is "in a way...a love theme for Mrs. Brisby and her lost husband..." Bond's comment really hit the nail on the head.
Once more, with feeling: A relaunch of the Richard Amsel fan site. August 17, 2015
After months of redesign, transferring old files, cleaning up and replacing images, the new and (hopefully) improved Richard Amsel Appreciation site is now live for you to enjoy -- including new images, reworked scans, updated data, and a new layout with additional pages. I've also added the additional domain name Richard-Amsel.com, to follow the previous RichardAmsel.info.
There may be some failed links and a few glitches here and there. I'll need a little more time to properly go through the site now that it's live. Please contact me if you need to report any technical problems.
To those who ask, I never met Richard Amsel. I was only twelve when he died, and it would be another fifteen years before I knew what the man even looked like -- much less the circumstances of his death, or the colorfulness of his life. But Amsel's work has always meant so much to me; it's as influential and as magical as the movies themselves. For that, the art and the artist deserve to be remembered.
I hope, for my part, that this site will help preserve his legacy. It's a perpetual work in progress, with new additions and information added as I gather them. I welcome your contributions and feedback, and hope you'll help ensure that Amsel's work is remembered in the years to come.
Please understand that this is not an official website, though it has received wide support from members of Amsel's family, his friends and colleagues. While I'm happy to respond to any questions, I do not speak on behalf of the Amsel estate, nor can I offer professional art appraisals.
Amsel's original Nancy Reagan TV GUIDE portrait and David Byrd illustrations to go up for auction in August! August 1, 2015
Earlier this year I interviewed my friend, artist David Byrd, about his friendship with Richard Amsel. David still has one of Amsel's original TV GUIDE cover illustrations -- a portrait of Nancy Reagan that was featured in their June 22, 1985 issue.
How David acquired the painting is a bit of a funny story, but I digress. This, along with a number of David's own illustrations and prints, will be up for auction by the BID NETWORK ONLINE (BNO) in August. Here is a promotional video they did of David:
The Reagan portrait goes up for auction on AUGUST 13th. CLICK HERE to go to the BNO's direct page for this item; it represents a rare opportunity to own an Amsel original, and the starting bid is extremely reasonable. (And you don't have to be a Republican to appreciate it! Just say YES!)
Also, David is putting up for auction a number of originals and high quality limited prints of his own work, including his legendary Rock N' Roll concert posters, broadway and theatre posters, and other film and TV related artwork. Here are links to each of the series within BNO's website:
VINCE GERMAIN...unearthed from the old film vaults. July 23, 2015
Speaking of my time at Vassar with Ken Robinson (see previous post below), here's a relic from my student film days: a film noir spoof called VINCE GERMAIN, which I did most of the cinematography.* I dare not say how long ago it was, but I will say it was right before the advent of digital editing, where we used stuff called "film" and edited by "splicing."
Recently Ken surprised me by giving me the original 16mm film print, right before his Vassar departure. My own student short, 8:00 a.m., I think still resides within the college's film shelves.
*There were some obvious pickup shots I was not available for late in the production. I could nitpick here, but must let it go...
Regarding Prof. Ken Robinson on his retirement... July 23, 2015
I posted this on my Facebook page back in May, but wanted to share it with everyone here.
Ken Robinson, who for years taught film production at Vassar College, finally retired last May. He had quite an illustrious career even before I met him over 20 years ago -- he was a leading figure within USC's film department throughout the 70's and 80's (back in the days of the "film school generation," with guys like Bob Zemeckis as students), and was one of the editors of PURPLE RAIN, the rock 'n roll Prince classic.
It's hard to imagine the generations of film students (and subsequent film professionals) Ken has inspired over the last four decades. Looking back at my own time with him, he was quite a force to be reckoned with -- formidable and intimidating at times, yes, but always encouraging, sincere, and genuinely compassionate. To those students he knew were working their asses off, he always respected and admired. (And to those that weren't...well, he had a gift for seeing through all the bullshit. It's a quality I've sorely lacked in my subsequent career.)
I did this little video tribute for Ken's retirement ceremony, though let me state for the record I was in a rush to film & edit it within a two hour deadline. I pray Ken knows my usual camera and sound abilities are a bit more accomplished.
Here's to you, Ken! I love ya, and stay in touch!
RAIDERS. RINSE. REPEAT. (The Adaptation, Comic-Con, etc...) July 2, 2015
I'm sure this will come as a big surprise to all of you: yet another damn post about Indiana Jones.
First: I was going to wait until I received my DVDs in the mail before mentioning RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: THE ADAPTATION, but as everyone other than me on planet earth seems to have gotten their DVD copies -- sheesh! -- it's time to reveal it here.
Long story short, I've long followed the adventures of "The Raiders Guys," who did a shot-for-shot remake of the 1981 adventure film throughout their childhoods. When it came time for them to revisit the film as adults and complete the airplane sequence, I expressed my support and willingness to help in any way I could. Their film was a true labor of love, and, after RAIDERS and LAST CRUSADE, "THE ADAPTATION" remains my third most favorite Indiana Jones film!
After some discussions brainstorming ideas, I submitted the poster below for their use, which was then extensively modified for the DVD front cover.
It was something I volunteered for, and was excited to do. The end result didn’t quite end up as I had personally hoped, but I hope those guys were happy with it. The biggest challenge was the lack of usable photo references. Other than the “trio” and latter airplane shots – which were the only sets of clear still photos taken during the entire production – I had to work with my own screengrabs made from grainy betacam home movie footage. (Think of trying to create a polished sketch from a 20th generation Xerox from a third generation fax, and you get the idea). Also, as the actors aged so much throughout the production, it’s not an option to take a head reference from one pose, and slap it over another.
The original design had other elements that were eventually omitted to make more room for the title. I had also tried going more for a look that resembled Struzan’s original LAST CRUSADE teaser poster, with the illustration against a white background, but in the end that was digitally altered and cropped. I could have done the piece entirely digitally, but I had my heart set on painting it the old fashioned way. This ends up taking me much more time, and doesn’t allow the flexibility that a digital composition has when it comes to making changes.
Some artists do everything digitally, and more power to them. I’m starting to get more experience in that myself. This project was what ultimately inspired me to finally invest serious money in a touchscreen Cintiq screen tablet, so I can work faster in the long run. Still, I’ll always prefer pencil, pen, and paint to pixels.
Second: Thanks to some kind friends at Warner Bros., I'll be returning to San Diego Comic-Con this year, and will have a number of prints available in the ARTISTS' AUCTION, located on the second floor of the convention center. (Not to be confused with the ARTISTS' ALLEY in the main hall of the ground floor.)
Chief among them will be a revised version of my RAIDERS "circus style" poster, which I'm limiting to a printing of only 50. The print up for auction is actually the very first of the signed & numbered series -- that's #1/50 -- and the opening bid will start at a fraction of what the remaining prints will cost: a mere $20.
I'll post more about this piece's revisions on the ART TECHNIQUE page soon. I was also recently interviewed by INDYMAG, which will include more information within their upcoming issue.
Within hours of my last post about RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: THE ADAPTATION, I got my DVDs in the mail and eagerly watched it. I'd seen an earlier cut years ago, but this is a newly remastered version that includes the airplane sequence.
And, oh, what an indescribable joy it is. Watching Chris Strompolos exit from the Well of Souls as a teenager, to emerge as a 40-something Indiana Jones sent a chill down my spine -- but the kind of giddy chill that you get on Christmas morning, right before you turn the corner to see a Christmas tree fully stocked with presents.
The production value and editing are all top notch, but the scene still has an endearing, handmade quality to it. And yes, they really did blow up the fucking plane.
My favorite part of it all -- as with the original "Adaptation" footage -- were the performances. Chris, Eric, Angela, and the entire team are so committed to their roles that watching them made my heart soar. I felt like a kid again, and loved every minute of it.
Oh, what I would have given to have grown up with these guys, too. Though admittedly, I'm such a klutz that had I worked on their film, I probably would have died.
R.I.P.: Stephen Schochet - author, storyteller, patriot, movie lover, and friend. June 7, 2015
I've been holding off on making posts the last few weeks, as several projects have been in the works, and I wanted to wait until the right time to mention them. But this one can't wait, and it's heartbreaking.
A few minutes ago I found out that my friend Stephen Schochet, 52, lost his battle with cancer on Friday, June 5th. Stephen was the author of HOLLYWOOD STORIES, for which I did the cover and layout, and I was actually in the early stages of prepping artwork for a follow-up book he was finishing.
It seems like only yesterday that Stephen first mentioned his diagnosis: cancer of the mouth. While he suffered multiple surgeries and considerable pain over the last few months, he always addressed them as mere temporary inconveniences. I had no idea it was life-threatening. Perhaps he didn't, either...at least when we last talked. We always ended our discussions with the sense that better days were ahead of us.
And on this I kid you not: When I woke up this morning, I remembered that I'd been overdue in sending Stephen an email. (After his mouth surgery, talking on the phone was too difficult for him.) The status of his health lingered in the back of my mind, however, and so, while I'm not much for saying prayers, I actually spoke aloud, "God bless you Stephen. I hope you're doing ok."
I'm pretty damn furious that this was not to be. Stephen deserved better. Much, much better.
Recent years were tough on him. He lost his mom in 2012, and was absolutely crushed by the loss. I certainly identified with him from my own experience in 2006, and we had several heart to hearts about it.
Stephen and I shared many conversations -- on movies, current events, and (Lord, save me) politics. He was a pretty devout libertarian/Republican, and, with my being a steadfastly pin-headed, left-leaning Liberal, we'd clash almost endlessly on the state of the Union, presidential candidates, and virtually everything within the national political spectrum. (On one thing we agreed, at least: Congress sucks.)
But make no mistake -- never was Stephen santimonious or arrogant. He was always geniune, delivering his political arguments with intelligence, grace, warmth, compassion, and humor. Through it all, he always treated me and my opinions with great respect. Never did our differences interfere with our friendship; indeed, I think they even strengthened it. Perhaps current politicians could learn a great deal from such friendship.
He was also, I must add, far and away the best client I ever had in my illustration career. Nearly every commission I've faced with other people had issues of some kind: money, timing, unreasonable demands, money, bounced checks, broken contracts, money, revision requests, and -- you guessed it! -- money.
But not so with Stephen. He would insist on paying everything up front, even when I'd tell him that such a gesture was completely unnecessary, as I had yet to even start a single sketch. I couldn't believe such a person existed in the world: a trusting client all too eager to pay, even when the service had not yet been earned. I even told him so. His response was classic, in true Schochetian sense: "That's because I'm a Republican."
"Well, Stephen," I said, "if all Republicans were as thoughtful as you, I'll happily switch political parties." This became an ongoing joke between us, as he was ready to have me re-register for the next election.
I don't know what the status of HOLLYWOOD STORIES II is, but for my part, I still owe Stephen Schochet a cover.
I owe him a lot more than that, too.
Perhaps too little, too late, but..."Kubrick Remembered" event. Or, how I learned to ask an intelligent question and get a simple, one-syllable answer. April 2, 2015
In yet another one of my "catching up" posts, I wanted to share a little story from an event sponsored by Warner Bros., back on November 18th of last year.
They held a screening of STANLEY KUBRICK REMEMBERED on the Warner Bros. lot, where they had a Q&A with Malcolm McDowell, Ryan O'Neal, Leon Vitali, and Dominic Savage, to promote the new Blu-Ray collection.
Their "Q&A" wasn't really much, as they took ONE question from the audience, and it was mine. I tried to make it an intelligent one: "Having experienced, as actors, what must have been exhaustive productions, what was it like, as viewers, to see your respective films for the first time in their completed form - especially considering Mr. Kubrick's editing, pacing, and legendary use of music?"
O'Neal clearly couldn't hear me -- he seemed very hard of hearing -- so McDowell, in his very characteristic fashion, summed up my question rather bluntly: "What did you think of BARRY LYNDON?" he asked him.
O'Neal held up the microphone and dismissively shrugged, "Eh."
So much for reverential treatment of auteurs.
Alas, none of the other guests had time to answer my question. Also surreal that night: five minutes after sitting down in the theater, I realized my old Soundelux guys, Kim Waugh and Per Hallberg, were sitting right behind me. And they still have their hair. Fuckers.
Little mentions... March 31, 2015
Someone gave me a heads up about an upcoming screening of THE SECRET OF NIMH, held by YBCA in San Francisco. Their calendar page features some of my old artwork to promote it. Who am I to complain?
This one's a bit old news, but INDYMAG, a fan based online publication for all things Indiana Jones, included my artwork among recommended items for collectors. You can view the issue online here or download the pdf. I'd be doing an interview for them in the near future, with more Indy-related news to announce...
The art of Jeff West. March 31, 2015
I wanted to give a shout-out to my friend Jeff West, a remarkable artist, illustrator, and Emmy-nominated VFX artist, who recently had a volume of his sketches published in a new book, THE ART OF JEFF WEST: VOLUME ONE.
I first saw Jeff's work online about thirteen years ago, and was immediately impressed by his style -- which was so different from my own, and I knew I couldn't possibly emulate it. I was tempted to contact him about collaborating on a project when, back in 2004, I began working at a post-production facility in Hollywood. I passed by one of the workrooms and noticed a large Indiana Jones poster posted on the wall...and, lo and behond, there was Jeff, sitting behind a workstation, adding VFX trickery to an episode of BUFFY. It's a small world, indeed.
Jeff and I soon became good friends, and I was sad when he ultimately left Hollywood. He had other priorities (raising a family chiefly among them), but I was happy to see him continue his creative work as an illustrator -- including a number of illustrated books for Vesuvius Press.
I do hope Jeff might return to a VFX career, if that's what he so chooses. But whatever path he takes, he's a rare talent, a good soul, and a great friend who is deserving of success. I wish him all the luck in the world.
THE BROTHERHOOD AND THE SHIELD: THE THREE THORNS now in bookstores. March 31, 2015
It's been a long time coming, but after years of hard work, Michael Gibney's book series THE BROTHERHOOD AND THE SHIELD has finally launched! The first book in the young adult fantasy series, THE THREE THORNS, is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, and other stores throughout the USA and UK.
I've done a number of covers for Mike, as several books are planned in the years to come. For THE THREE THORNS, I actually did different designs; my personal favorite was one I'd done for free, after feeling dissatisfied with my previous efforts. Oddly enough, the publisher went with the first (and in my opinion, lesser) cover artwork, deeming my preferred illustration to be too...well, scary. But the author loved it so much that he used it as the central image of the book series' website:
At long last...the much-needed makeover of my Art Galleries has begun! March 29, 2015
I've been swamped with a lot of projects these last few months, particularly since my move to Sierra Madre. It's all been both overwhelming and wonderful, but I have to prioritize things. (This work is in addition to my full time job at Warner Bros.)
I'm constantly tinkering with this site, and if you explore some of the pages, you'll find a lot of them are quite outdated. I'm hoping to change all that soon, but my starting point was the most critical one: THE ART GALLERIES.
The last few days I've transitioned all my personal art & illustration files to WIX, as their service offers great functionality, and makes everything a bit easier to organize. It's also a lot more interactive, and easier to update, than my archaic web developer software.
So...in an effort to have a "soft launch" of the new galleries, the art links on my main ART GALLERY page will direct you to the new WIX pages.
Some of the pages have yet to be updated, but the key ones -- such as my PORTFOLIO OVERVIEW and poster artwork -- are all spankin' new. Some galleries have also been consolidated. I hope you enjoy them, and would appreciate any feedback.
I opted, however, to keep all the older pages active, as many people have linked to them and their contents. (That I've already renewed my old web service account for another year is hardly reason for me to abandon it now.) These older gallery pages will continue to link to the previous site, while the new WIX content can be accessed through the main ART GALLERY page.
If you're wondering where some of my previous news entries have gone, they've been archived by year -- and you can find the link to each of them at the very bottom of this page. I have a lot of new stuff going on, and have to make room. :)
original writing, illustration, and artwork featured within this website (unless otherwise noted) copyright
(c) 2015 Adam D. McDaniel, and can not be used without written permission.