With a background in business where Stephane spent eight years working for technology companies, the design enthusiast’s return to art reignited unexpectedly in 2018 on a visit to Ukraine. There, he bought a poster from a flea market in Kiev and slowly started to build up a collection of vintage posters, first for himself then for friends and eventually, selling them too. Years past and with it, Stephane journeyed to many other countries that made up the former Eastern bloc. From the frozen villages of Kazakhstan to the backstreet bazaars of Georgia, Stephane’s collection continued to grow, gathering steam until he finally had an archive big enough to launch Comrade Kiev.
This website, which houses Stephane’s mighty poster collection, is testament to the originality of Soviet art as seen through the disposable posters put up as a means of communication throughout the Soviet occupancy. Stephane tells us more on the uniqueness of the collection, “artists in the Soviet Union weren’t allowed to leave, and could only work for the state,” he says. “Because they lived in a closed society, the art they created wasn’t influenced by western style, and was also heavy in propaganda.” During the time of their creation, the posters weren’t appreciated as an art form, merely regarded as propaganda, and part of Stephane’s goal today is to raise awareness on the artistic merit of these delights.
The collection is split into different categories, including:
This almost feels like archival inception and that’s honestly the best kind of inception to me.
archives.design is a digital archive of design-related items from the Internet Archive, curated by Valery Marier. She runs the site in her free time. Naturally, the site itself is beautifully crafted and seeing all the covers on a digital shelf in all their glory is exquisite.
I grew up in the 90s and used VHS tapes predominately until the late 00s (although I still have a VCR which I watch tapes on when I can be bothered to plug it in). As a fan of Swiss Style posters as well, this is a combined nostalgic delight. Look at the vibrant colours!
So film posters like the ones Matt Needle produces are a stroke of artistic genius (and that’s meant in the true definition of the word). Matt is a Cardiff-based illustrator and graphic designer who specializes in editorial illustrations and film poster design. He’s worked for the likes of Warner Bros, Disney, Marvel, and the BBC to name a few.
And when you look at his work, you can see why. His posters don’t all follow a particular art style, allowing him to mould and remix the film genres with aesthetics that aren’t associative. As an example, take a look at this poster for Star Wars: The Last Jedi:
The film was released in 2017 but its style wouldn’t look out of place in the 60s or 70s (particular when you think about the Tokyo 1964 Olympic designs for example). It’s subtle yet effective. Three key elements and a minimal colour palette. Enough to want it on your wall.
My creative process would begin normally with me sitting down with a pad and a pen scribbling down notes and sketches, bringing that all together and drawing up a plan, I would then get on the computer and make the idea happen using Adobe creative Suite (namely Photoshop & Illustrator).
He’s also called Saul Bass one of his biggest inspirations, alongside Salvador Dali, Escher, Milton Glaser, Bauhaus, and Surrealism amongst others.
While Matt Needle doesn’t follow a specific art style, every design he creates unearths complex beauty from within himself and the subject matter. Movie posters of this era lack that because they’re churned out quickly and lose any semblance of meaning as they pass through the design chain. Matt has the luxury of a more considered approach and it shows in his work.
One of my favourite accounts on Twitter has to be @CoolFilmArt. It’s a treasure trove of, well, cool film art with incredible posters from all over the world. We spoke to Robyn, one of the curators of the account about its origins and some of her favourite film posters.
So, how did the @CoolFilmArt account come about?
My pal Jim helps run @CoolBoxArt and I basically ripped the idea off two years ago but for film posters, I also made a list on Letterboxd back in 2013 and thought wow that would be a cool Twitter account. My main basis for choosing a film to watch is 99% what the poster looks like so I thought other people would enjoy them as much as I do. There’s other poster accounts out there but I think we cater to a pretty niche market, like if you were to upturn a stone in between the woodlice you would find our kind of posters, haha.
How do you “curate” the film art you post?
Mostly I find stuff on Google, I like to look for Hollywood posters from other countries (Japan posters are always wild), VHSCollector is a big source for me, loads of hi-res scans of VHS box art! Tumblr also has a good community of poster enthusiasts. If I post fan posters I always try and link back to the original artist, some of them are so good though that you can’t tell if it’s official or not!
Do you have any ambitions to branch out to other channels like Facebook or with a blog?
I already run a film blog @bimbomoviebash and there are no plans to expand CoolFilmArt out. It was always meant to be this very simple idea of just posting posters, I kind of hate it when you follow an account for one thing and they start bringing all their personal stuff into it so I try and keep that to a minimum. Just posters posters posters!
Would you say creative film posters are a dying breed now?
Back in the 80s film rentals and sales were driven so hard by the poster, like you could take a video off the shelf and it would be the poster that swung it. In the day and age of the internet you can’t disguise a shitty film with flashy artwork anymore so there’s really no need for it. It’s definitely a dying art, which is a shame. I can’t stomach a lot of posters now, the trend of just putting absolutely everything on the poster sucks, like Force Awakens, however if something looks interesting now (like that neon green Thor Ragnarok poster) it definitely stands out. I think artistic posters are making a bit of a comeback now because all these kids who grew up in the 80s are making their own films now, but sadly it’s just not important anymore.
Paul Verhoeven. No one rivals his eye for flashy gaudiness or his bite. People are only just starting to GET Showgirls. What a legacy.
Jeff Goldblum, I could watch him for hours. Tony Leung, Traci Lords, Divine, Linnea Quigley, Denzel, Jill Schoelen like, the list is never-ending!
Are there any film posters you hate and if so, why?
I’ve never met a Christopher Nolan poster that I’ve liked.
What kind of influence do you think film and film art have on culture in modern times?
I think we’re living in both the worst and best time for movies at the moment. Some days it feels like we’re in a never-ending chasm of superhero reboots that are never ever going to stop, and they all look the same and they swallow up and coming directors into this cycle and then don’t give them the creative freedom to do anything that was the reason they hired them. On the other hand you have stuff like Get Out that swept us all up in a way you wouldn’t think could ever happen anymore, it’s like we all forgot our cynicism and were able to come together to enjoy this truly great movie and things like that make me think we’re going to be okay.
The store/gallery is based in New York where you can purchase everything from a 1960s Swiss Scene Card of Casablanca for $150 to a 1933 Argentinian King Kong poster for $75,000.
As well as posters, Posteritati also sell books. The ones that caught my eye were Art of the Modern Movie Poster (2008) and The Independent Movie Poster Book (2005). If I was a rich man, I’d buy so many posters (and maybe a Fiddler on the Roof poster.)