Renowned graphic artist, Noma Bar, has been given the task of redesigning the cover art for many classic movie titles including ‘Reservoir Dogs’, ‘Snatch’, ‘Rambo’ and ‘Easy Rider’. Born in Israel and now living in London, Bar is notorious for his simplistic yet stimulating works. He puts down his drawing tools for a moment to tell Cream about the process he undergoes when creating his art. Interview by Andrew Filocamo
How did you get involved with this latest project and be given the privilege to redesign the cover art for all these classic movie titles?
I was approached by Sony and I guess that they had seen some of my published works including a few books.
Your artworks are very bold, and when you take a closer look, very clever. Is it a difficult process mixing different themes together to make that final image?
It is rather hard. I’m drawing about 19 hours a day to make it looks effortless and simple. The process starts with a long brainstorming session. I spend about five hours every day sketching ideas and brainstorming. Then I go into the studio and start to scan and draw on the computer. When it comes to portraits, the process is even longer, as it is a combination of finding the right idea and likeness. So sometimes I have 300 sketches for one image.
It’s been said that you sketched images of Saddam Hussein while in a bomb shelter during the Gulf War. That’s a pretty intense story. Can you elaborate on it?
Saddam was one of my first visual discoveries. During the first Gulf war I was sitting in a shelter with my family, reading the newspaper, and I came upon the black ‘radioactivity’ symbol on a yellow background. As I was looking at it I discovered two eyebrows and a mustache, and saw in it the image of Saddam. So I sketched his silhouette around the symbol and found that it looked a lot like him. That Saddam image was one of the images I showed people when I moved to London and I used it when I was contacting magazines and newspapers looking for work.
Out of all the movies you redesigned the cover art for, what’s your personal favorite?
It’s difficult to choose… I think ‘Rambo’ is my favorite. It was the most challenging portrait. I have drawn Sylvester Stallone’s portrait in the past, but it was for the movie ‘Rocky’, using two boxing gloves to depict his face. But ‘Rambo’ led me to explore some new ideas. I ended up with a survival knife with a bit of blood over it. I like the simplicity of it.
Had you seen all the movies? Did you have to watch or rewatch some of them for inspiration?
Yes, I had seen all the movies. It’s a very different experience when you are working, though. I decided to review them all. It wasn’t your normal viewing experience this time. There wasn’t any popcorn and drinks. While I watch, I’m sketching a lot, trying to analyse the story, find ideas, and understand the actor’s/character’s face. Later on I’ll start to draw again without any visual reference in front of me. Just working from memory.
See Noma Bar’s wonderful new cover art for classic films in the Noma Bar range. Each special edition DVD will be sold separately in store and will retail for $15.98 (and that’s a bargain). Self-portrait by Noma Bar.