Tavis Coburn discusses how he created his incredible retro BAFTA posters

For the second year running, BAFTA commissioned an artist to create covers for its award ceremony programme based on the nominees for Best Picture at the Orange British Academy Film Awards, which was held on Sunday and won by The Hurt Locker. This year's five covers were created by illustrator Tavis Coburn and plumb into the current trend for all things retro with a look that draws on the golden days of British Cinema.

We sat down with Tavis to find out more about the project.

DA: What was the brief for the project?

TC: "BAFTA wanted images with an immediate recognition factor and a bit of a conceptual twist. Last year Noma Bar did a set of brilliantly simple portraits so there was some discussion as to whether to stick with portraits or go the total opposite direction and avoid faces altogether.

The Hurt Locker

"There were quite a number of films in the running for nominations when they pitched the job to me. That number got whittled down as the awards approached and, two weeks before the deadline, I found out which films were going to be the final five. My work process is pretty elaborate and can be very time consuming, so I had to hedge my bets and start developing imagery and comps before I knew which would be the final nominees."

One of the films Tavis started work on before he knew the nominees was Inglorious Basterds. His ideas for this can be seen at the end of this article.

DA: What materials did you work from?

TC: "The folks at BAFTA provided me with quite a few stills from each of the movies. In this scenario, though, in there's not a lot that the client could have supplied that I wouldn't have had access to online and at the cineplex.


"I suppose I could have come up with something from a synopsis and a few reference photos, but I wanted to see the films before I did the illustrations. They're all great movies and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears had to have gone into the making of each of them. I would have felt like I was doing the films and filmmakers an injustice by 'winging it' and possibly failing to capture the tone or message. It was a bit of a scramble to find the time, but I was able to watch all of them over the course of the project."

DA: Can you describe the look and feel you were going for?

TC: "I can't say that I approached this job trying to achieve a different look or feel than what I normally bring to a piece. I've been working with the same methodology (or a low-tech variation of it) for around a decade now and by virtue of that process, my work has always felt like it could have been torn from the cover of an old pulp men's magazine.

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