Feb 12

Star Wars Artist John Alvin Dies

Category: News,Star Wars,VE Today

If I could sum it up in a word, I’d say ‘magic.’ John is able to put a magical and ethereal essence into his paintings.” ―Julian Montoya, director of international marketing for Fox Home entertainment.

John Alvin

Born sometime in 1948, John became a very successful Artist for Star Wars fans around the world. He was an illustrator who worked on multiple Star Wars book covers, posters video covers, and apparently over 120 separate movie campaigns. He died Wednesday, February 6th 2008, from a Heart Attack, His family and friends were grief stricken. He had many friends who like his family simply adored him and his artworks. John did many artworks for Star Wars books, posters movies, etc.

He was 59 when he past away so unexpectedly. He was considered the pre-eminent movie campaign artist of the past 35 years, Alvin’s career began in 1974 with his creation of the iconic movie poster for Mel Brook’s “Blazing Saddles”.

He most recently contributed many design ideas for the campaign for Walt Disney Studio’s “Enchanted.” In a career that encompassed multiple projects for directors like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Blake Edwards, Mel Brooks and Ridley Scott. He was considered by many studios as the go-to artist for movie poster and campaign art. John Alvin said that his work “created the promise of a great experience” and in that he never failed.

I think he really lived up to that statement to till the day he died. He was a great man as well. John Alvin was married, his wife’s name was Andrea, had recently relocated to New York’s Hudson Valley from Los Angeles in order to be closer to their daughter. He only had one child named Farah, a Broadway actress. John Alvin said that as a child he eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Sunday paper so that he could peruse the ads for the new movies playing at the local theaters.

He was enamored with the magic of film at an early age and would create art inspired largely by his love of film. Those passions led him to the Art Center College of Design where he actually met his wife, Andrea (also a student at Art Center) from which he graduated in the early 1970s. Even Walt Disney had many great things to say about him,

His work inspires us,” say the Disney marketing execs. “Alvin brings emotion into his artwork that can only be captured in an illustration. We call it ‘Alvinizing’.”

Alvin acquired a full array of artist’s skills and techniques as a student of the distinguished Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. Soon thereafter, in 1974, he got his chance to put his love of entertainment art and his artist training to work by creating the campaign art for Mel Brook’s Blazing Saddles.

He has developed and maintained a very loyal following among collectors of cinema art, making his original art and signed reproductions much wanted and revered pieces of movie memorabilia. Truly, John Alvin belongs to a very special and very short list of cinema art masters whose works have become icons in Hollywood’s rich and colorful history.

John was featured in the Star Wars insider 27, in an article titled “The Art of John Alvin Promises the Magic that Lucasfilm Movies Deliver.” He also appeared at the Celebration IV Art show in May 2007. He did many works for many books, some including the Jedi Academy Trilogy, Queen in Disguise, plus more. A quote from a Star Wars expanded Universe article states this:
“Theater audiences were lining up around the block night after night and Darth Vader appeared on the cover of Time magazine,” Alvin recalls. “The impact on my life is reflected in the impact on my art and Star Wars has been a key part of my career since then. It still is and will be for a long time.”

Alvin’s first poster was a picture of some of the most famous droids, you could probably guess who they are but I am still going to tell you. The poster depicts the two droids R2-D2, and his companion C-3PO as musicians. A quote from the man John himself, “The Star Wars Concert poster has become very rare and quite collectible.”

Another known collectible poster that Alvin created that is also rare and very favored among his fans is a “wide banner-like poster celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Star Wars made in 1987.

A poster From the Star Wars Celebration IV John created is this:

Celebration IV Poster

(Site Source, http://www.starwars.com/community/event/celebration/news20070323.html)

A Star Wars Expanded Universe article also has a statement from Alivan about his 10th Anniversary poster as well:

“Using the tagline ‘The first ten years’ on my Tenth Anniversary Star Wars poster was my idea. It seemed more uplifting and promising to commemorate the first ten as though there would be no future limit and, so far there hasn’t been. In the poster, I also wanted to reflect the broad expanse of the widescreen cinematic vision we all saw in a theater,” Alvin adds. “As most posters are vertical, I thought the anniversary piece should remind us of the movie experience and hence, the horizontal format. I wanted fans to be carried along again as Luke is compelled by great forces to recognize and embrace his destiny. We see what he sees as though he is saluting the very saga we see displayed within the larger-than-life title.”

He also made a series of paintings he called “The Force Influence.”

As Destiny Unfolds:

As Destiny UnfoldsJohns words on this poster are these:

“Obi-Wan is the means by which Luke is drawn toward his own destiny and as the Jedi Knight’s tale comes to a physical end, he must point ‘the new hope’ in the right direction if there is ever to be peace in the galaxy,” Alvin explains. “He profoundly influences Luke by what he says to him and when he says it. I wanted to show respect for the great character of Obi-Wan and at the same time, pay homage to Sir Alec Guinnesswho so brilliantly portrayed him.

“Kenobi’s presence is grand, full of wisdom and larger than life,” Alvin continues. “He dominates the scene and yet he enfolds and cradles the innocent farm boy Luke — for all intents and purposes, a lost youth with no direction or goal. Yoda’s magnificent and enduring influence on Obi-Wan is gently suggested by the ghosted image of the Jedi Master in the sky. I wanted to set a mood of somber purpose and yet one of great affection and regard. Of all my work, this is one of my favorites.”

Another poster titled “Like Father Like Son,” was also created in the Force Influence Series.

Like Father Like SonAgain Alvin’s words on this particular poster are these:

“I thought that there are few more profound relationships than that of father and son in life and this is especially true of the Star War saga,” Alvin explains. “Like any long time fan, I was captivated by Boba Fett and I thought it interesting to pose him at rest and full of potential violence. I like to think that the fire behind him depicts the gruesome end of yet another bounty. Look at the tip of his flame thrower. It’s very hot as though he was making good use of it and he has now turned to us and we should be fearful.

“Promoting our fear is the lethal legacy Boba Fett brings with his considerable skills, and this heritage is shown in the proactive and very dangerous posture of his father, the legendary Jango Fett,” Alvin continues. “It’s as though Boba wants us to know that he is the logical extension of his father and everything we fear about him, we do so with good reason. I wanted to portray the Fett lineage to reflect of the powerful hold these characters have had on all of us from the instant George Lucas put them on screen.”

(Picture from http://www.starwars.com/eu/explore/profile/f20041014/indexp3.html)

Alvin wanted to portray many characters like Queen Amidala, Princess Leia Organa, Chewy, Jabba the Hutt, Han Solo, Anakin Skywalker, although I am sure he already has in one way or another.

John didn’t just do Star Wars Artwork, he did artwork for many other things too. These are just some stated on his site but it goes to show that he was a man of many talents,

Captain Jack Sparrow,

Captain Jack Sparrow

Not Quite sure what this one is, but its a good one though,

Another John Alvin Artwork

(Source, http://johnalvin.com/)

He did works for Walt Disney too, John Alvin is said to have been chosen by Disney for works on The Lion King. He even did some works for Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, and Lord of the Rings too. He was a world wide known Artist that millions revere. None of his works will ever be matched.

On his fan-site (http://www.johnalvinart.com/) was a list of list of movie campaigns and posters worked on by John Alvin:

  • Anchor Bay Ent – Tai-Pan
  • Arthur II
  • Artisan Ent – The Fabulous Baker Boys
  • Buena Vista Home Ent – Earnest Scared Stupid
  • Buena Vista Home Ent – Mr. Destiny
  • Columbia Tristar – Bite The Bullit
  • Columbia Tristar – By The Sword
  • Columbia Tristar – Hanover Street
  • Columbia Tristar – Hook
  • Columbia Tristar – Lawrence Of Arabia
  • Columbia Tristar – Old Gringo
  • Columbia Tristar – Flatliners
  • Disney – Aladdin
  • Disney – Aladdin (European)
  • Disney – Aladdin (Japanese)
  • Disney – Arachnophobia
  • Disney – Beauty And The Beast
  • Disney – Big Wednesday
  • Disney – Hercules (Japanese)
  • Disney – Mulan ( Japanese)
  • Disney – Newsies
  • Disney – Pinocchio
  • Disney – Rescuers Down Under
  • Disney – Shipwrecked
  • Disney – Snow White
  • Disney – Tall Tale
  • Disney – The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (European)
  • Disney – The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (Japanese)
  • Disney – The Lion King
  • Disney – The Little Mermaid
  • Disney – The Three Muskateers
  • Fox Home Ent – Mother, Jugs, And Speed
  • Fox Home Ent – Raw Deal
  • Fox Home Ent – The Verdict
  • Fox Home Ent – Thumbelina
  • Fox Home Entertainment -Dying Young
  • Image Ent – Short Circuit
  • Image Ent – The Twilight Zone
  • Lisa
  • Metro Goldwyn Mayer – Rainman
  • Metro Goldwyn Mayer -Texasville
  • Mgm – Betrayed
  • Mgm – City Slickers
  • Mgm – Fritz The Cat
  • Mgm – Leviathan
  • Mgm – Losin’ It
  • Mgm – Rancho Deluxe
  • Mgm – Red Dawn
  • Mgm – Running Scared
  • Mgm – Solarbabies
  • Mgm – Spaceballs
  • Mgm – The Princess Bride
  • Mgm – Young Frankenstein
  • Nickel Ride
  • North
  • Paramount Home Video – Star Trek Vi: The Undiscovered Country
  • Paramount Studios – The Golden Child
  • Royal Flash
  • Serial
  • Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother
  • Smile
  • Twentieth Century Fox – Phantom Of The Paradise
  • Twentieth Century Fox – Star Wars: The Concerts
  • Twentieth Century Fox – The Turning Point
  • Twentieth Century Fox – Star Wars 10th Anniversary
  • Twentieth Century Fox -Project X
  • Twentieth Century Fox -Rhinestone
  • Twentieth Century Fox Silent Movie
  • Twentieth Century Fox -Willow
  • Twentieth Century Fox – Alien (15th Anniversary)
  • Twentieth Century Fox – High Anxiety
  • Twentieth Century Fox -History Of The World Part 1
  • Twentieth Century Fox -Cocoon
  • Twentieth Century Fox -Cocoon The Return
  • Twentieth Century Fox -Conrack
  • Umvd – Legend
  • Umvd – Melvin And Howard
  • Universal Studios – Always
  • Universal Studios – Cape Fear
  • Universal Studios – Darkman
  • Universal Studios – E.T.
  • Universal Studios – E.T. (Advance)
  • Universal Studios – E.T. (Re-Release)
  • Universal Studios – The Milagro Beanfield War
  • Vestron Video – Ironweed
  • Warner Home Video – Cats Don’t Dance
  • Warner Home Video – Empire Of The Sun
  • Warner Home Video – My Favorite Year
  • Warner Home Video – S.O.B.
  • Warner Home Video – Christopher Columbus: The Discovery
  • Warner Home Video – Joe Vs. The Volcano
  • Warner Home Video – Gremlins
  • Warner Home Video – Innerspace
  • Warner Home Video – Victor/Victoria
  • Warner Studio – Mosquito Coast
  • Warner Studio – That’s Dancing!
  • Warner Studio – The Color Purple
  • Warner Studios – 10
  • Warner Studios – Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
  • Warner Studios – Batman Returns
  • Warner Studios – Blade Runner
  • Warner Studios – Blazing Saddles
  • Warner Studios – Cobra
  • Warner Studios – Deal Of The Century
  • Warner Studios – Innocent Blood
  • Warner Studios – New Jack City
  • Warner Studios – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
  • Warner Studios – Quest For Camelot
  • Warner Studios – Spies Like Us
  • Warner Studios – The Frisco Kid
  • Warner Studios – The Goonies
  • Warner Studios – The Lost Boys
  • Warner Studios – The Nutcracker Prince
  • Warner Studios – Under Siege (European)

As you can see John completed many, many works throughout his life, some you may have heard of, others maybe not. If you didn’t know about some of those on that list, well know you do. I know millions appreciated Johns works whether they be Family, Friends, Employers, Fans, etc.
John lived a long, and no doubt a very worthy and fun life. John is a hero to many, a friend, and idol, and many other things no doubt. John Alvin will never be forgotten by anybody so long as Star Wars survives. Let us never forget everything he did for the world no matter who we are.

John Alvin was a man of many talents, Art probably being only just one of them. John said many things, here is just another one. John Alvin the Legendary Star Wars Artist may be dead, even confirmed by Lucas Arts, but he will be missed. Our respects and wishes go with him tonight. May he rest in peace, and his family be at peace.

  • StarWars.com profile of John with lots of quotes
    “When working on any image relative to the Star Wars saga, all I have to remember is how I felt when I first saw the Rebel Blockade Runner overtaken by the Imperial Star Destroyer in the opening of Episode IV,” Alvin explains. “From that moment on, I was forever a part of the Star Wars universe. “

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