Vivek Mandrekar takes us through his journey of illustrating digital movie posters effectively. In the process, he also shares his own illustrating journey and insights gained behind the reel.
CG. What’s the story behind choosing movies specifically as your avenue?
Vivek: First and foremost, it was an obsession with watching all kinds of movies that led me to see movie posters on a theatre lobby, lamppost, street-side wall, video store, newspaper or in a film journal. The artwork on them, especially the Hollywood ones, intrigued me. It gave an essence of what the movie would be before watching it. Then recreating and drawing the visual from posters became an interest. Be it Shah Rukh Khan from “Baazigar,” Jim Carrey from “The Mask,” Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone from any of their movies or even a “Jurassic Park” logo. I did not know, however, this interest would lead me to become a full-time movie poster artist. So, yes, life has been kind.
CG. As a digital artist in this genre, how do you perceive the film poster painters and process of the previous era and, thus also, how are client expectations different today from then?
Vivek: Huge Respect! To all the veteran poster artists of that era. I was privileged enough to meet and learn from them. God bless them all. The process is the same till now. The only things which have changed are the medium, technology, time, involvement of more minds and interference. Those days, a poster artist was given creative freedom. These days, everyone knows everything except the artist working on it. But I can’t help it, so I’m going with the flow and doing my best job around it for a living.
CG. How did your design journey start and how did you carry it forward through any related education, learning processes, practice and experiences?
Vivek: It started with my father, Late Shri. Arvind Mandrekar, who was a fine artist and illustrator for Amar Chitra Katha. So my upbringing in art and inspirations were from him and also my drawing teachers, Beena Godambe miss and Rajesh Rumade sir, who guided me in my school days. Presently, I have been learning under the guidance of a well known fine artist and teacher, Shri. Suresh Bhosale sir. Post the 90’s a digital era in designing started, of which movie posters were part. It had everything from a Title Design, Image Manipulation to Colour Grading done digitally.
Somewhere, the childhood interest in movie posters created a curiosity that pushed me to learn the tools of the trade. But, in those days, there was limited access to tutorials, the internet and online courses. Thankfully, a god-sent friend of mine, Dinesh Narayanan, a master digital artist in entertainment art, gave me advanced training in Adobe Photoshop, which was the tool for creating movie posters. But, afterwards, due to personal circumstances, I could not afford to join art school or take formal education in it. I started working at an early age in the movie poster industry, which wasn’t easy at the beginning. I did odd jobs for survival. Humiliation; insults from senior artists in the field; failure and rejections came with it. But if I look back on these now, there was a silver lining. These experiences have been my education and learnings which led me to follow my dream.
CG. What’s your progression of taking artwork from understanding the brief to executing the final result?
Vivek: It starts with the reading of a script. Then, grounded on that, concept sketches and mood boards are created with various options. After approval and revisions, a photoshoot is directed based on the concept sketches. Post the photoshoot, the actual magic starts, where the final execution of the poster starts shaping up.
CG. Which films or related works would you consider your best and could you please elaborate on the process they involved?
Vivek: Not yet. Long way to go! The journey has just started. But what gave me recognition and a foothold in the industry was my work on the movie, “Thugs of Hindostan.” Especially the illustrated Imax poster, which got me appreciation from my inspiration and legendary movie poster artist, Paul Shipper sir. What more could I ask!
CG. What features or nuances do you need to pay attention to in your artwork so as to engage today’s audience?
Vivek: Aesthetics, balance, composition, typography, mood and, above all, storytelling are the required features for any movie poster. Movie posters have the power to hold viewers’ attention and tell a story within seconds. Condensing a 2-3 hour movie in a single image is not as easy as it seems.
CG. Can you name some of the artists and illustrators who inspire you and what about their works draws your attention?
Vivek: There are so many in various art forms but some of them I look up to and still learn from in poster art are Diwakar Karkare, Eswar, Yashwant Parab, Drew Struzan, Paul Shipper, Steven Chorney, Bob Peak, Bill Gold, John Alvin, James Goodridge, Mark Westermoe, Rory Kurtz, Steeve Reeves, Akiko Stehrenberger and some of my contemporaries, Raj Khatri, Tuney John, Vinci Raj.
Photographers like Abhitabh Kame, Gautam Rajadhyaksha, Rico Torres. Typography artists such as Kamal Shedge, Jignesh Pancholi, Sandeep Bobade, Thom Schillinger. Illustrators include Bal Thackeray, Vikas Sabnis, Raj Thackeray, Pundalik Vaze, C.M. Vitankar, Deelip Khomane, Mort Drucker, Norman Rockwell, Frank McCarthy, Sam Spratt, Jason Seiler.
CG. What kind of projects interest you and is there any particular kind of work you are looking for?
Vivek: Every kind of project interests me as long as there is creative freedom. Currently, I am more inclined towards doing illustration-based movie posters.
CG. Do you have any other areas of interest as an illustrator and artist?
Vivek: I have been experimenting, learning and achieving traditional medium techniques in my digital paintings, which has given me a different avenue to explore – the other side of my interest and calling, apart from movie poster art. Thanks to the arrival of Wacom Tablet and Balaji Waghmare, an artist and friend who taught me to use it. Also, Sheridan J, whose tutorials helped me learn digital painting art.
CG. What do you think the future holds for poster designing?
Vivek: In the past ten years, poster designing got much more attention, thanks to the exposure on social media platforms. But on the other hand, due to the dying print culture, consumption has shifted to digital thumbnails and video content. Agencies and artists are now just a small part of this industry. Hence, evolving and adapting according to the trends are the only ways to reach success.
CG. What skills do you think the upcoming poster designers need to have in order to be in tune with these anticipated changes in the field and how can filmmakers contribute to taking the art genre in a better direction?
Vivek: Patience, observation, being honest with your work, and constantly learning are the only skills required, rest follows. Don’t get attracted to the glamorous side of the industry. Be focused and dedicated to your craft! Everything will arrive at the right time.
Filmmakers can contribute by being more respectful towards the art of poster designing and help it become an asset.