February 26, 2008

The Saul Bass Look

The world of graphic design lost Saul Bass in 1996. Whether or not you know the man's name, his pioneering style in poster art is easily recognized. He did memorable artwork for The Man With the Golden Arm, Vertigo, West Side Story, and Bunny Lake Is Missing.

Bass's influence can still be seen, and there's been several examples in the dozen years since his passing. A recent one is Before the Devil Knows Your Dead, designed by Cold Open, Inc. Besides being a shortcut to retro cool, following the design icon's lead has other advantages. The stark contrasts in color and simplicity of the images are very eye-catching, and the ample use of negative space allows plenty of room for review quotes in newspaper ads (a key reason why ThinkFilm went with the look).

Here's an overview of nine other film posters that have borrowed from his style to various degrees.

Clockers (1995)Clockers
The Butcher Boy (1997)The Butcher Boy
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Lock, Stock and
Two Smoking Barrels


Idle Hands (1999)Idle Hands
Small Time Crooks (2000)Small Time Crooks
Criminal (2004)Criminal

The Prisoner (2006)The Prisoner
The Protagonist (2007)The Protagonist
Flawless (2007)Flawless

Burn After Reading (2008)UPDATE 11/20/08
While the initial poster artwork for the Coen Bros. comedy Burn After Reading (2008) certainly showed a Saul Bass influence (particularly in the typeface), this later design echoes his style even more.

For a thorough appreciation of Saul Bass's portfolio:

Saul Bass on the Web

Titles Designed by Saul Bass

Design Musem: Saul Bass

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