Paul Shipper, who currently lives in South-West England, is an up and coming star in the movie art world. He has provided artwork for clients like Shout Factory, CBS and Disney. Shipper has created art for huge pop culture properties—including a recent poster for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Shipper has also done a lot of work on Steven Spielberg and Amblin projects. He produced artwork for the 35th anniversary of E.T. and for the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future. The past year for Shipper has seen him become even more heavily involved in the world of Spielberg. He created a poster for The Post that was used for the film’s social media campaign in 2017. When Empire Magazine recently released a tribute issue to Spielberg, Shipper was called upon to create the cover.
We spoke to Paul Shipper about working on Steven Spielberg related projects, his love for Drew Struzan and more.
Can you talk about your introduction to the art world?
I was drawing from a young age. I was encouraged throughout my childhood by my friends and family. When I was 5 years old I made my first trip to America and Los Angeles. My family took me and my sister to a holiday there and we went to Disneyland and Universal Studios. That had a huge impact on me to be honest. I would draw scenes from films as a child. I would draw characters. As I got older I would see illustrated movie posters and I would fall in love with them. It has been a life long thing really. I have been doing it forever. I have been lucky that I have been able to follow a dream…with a few hiccups along the way.
Given your childhood, how exciting is it for you to get to work on Steven Spielberg projects now?
I grew up on Star Wars and Steven Spielberg films. They were huge inspirations on my childhood and today. Indiana Jones is my all-time hero in the movies. Raiders of the Lost Ark is my all-time favorite film. I have probably watched it more than any other film ever. Having my artwork connected to Steven Spielberg movies is hard for me to believe. It’s surreal in many ways.
You talk about what a huge influence Struzan has had on you and you can definitely see that in your work. Do you try to emulate his style or is it something that has just come organically because you are a lifelong fan?
Drew has been a huge inspiration on me my whole life. I am an illustrator because of him.
When I was younger I would go to movie fairs and hunt down Drew Struzan posters. His artwork talked to me and I felt something when I would look at it. I would buy the Struzan posters and put them on my bedroom floor and study them with my magnifying glass for hours. I would try and work out what his process was and how he did it. Then I would sit in my bedroom with paints and try to replicate things. It was great fun. It was like being a detective because back then there was no internet. My local library had nothing about movie posters. There was no information anywhere. I had to hunt down old memorabilia shops…and there were few of those too. It was a quest I guess…to unlock the mysteries of the illustrated poster at a young age.
The style and aestitic of Struzan’s posters had such an influence on me. It was important for me to carry that on. I also wanted to take it to a modern place as well. I wanted to keep the feel of what I loved in the past, but keep it current. I didn’t want it to feel to dated. Some things date over time. Trends change and styles change. The computer has made everything different when it comes to designs and advertising. I have embraced that. I don’t really paint traditionally anymore. Everything is done in the computer.
Do you think illustrated posters, like Drew Struzan made, will ever come back as the dominant style of poster studios want to make?
I think it’s back. There are quite a few movies these days with illustrated posters. Baby Driver had an illustrated poster. The Shape of Water had an illustrated poster. It is happening. The transition is happening. The people making the decisions are seeing that people are enjoying these and they are getting a reaction other posters haven’t gotten for a while. When there were no illustrated posters I knew they would come back eventually and I think the time is now.
You can see more of Paul Shipper’s artwork here.