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The Artists - The Red Dress Studio and the Artwork for ITV's Endeavour

When we aren’t out looking for original movie posters, one of our favourite past-times is to settle in at home, to turn on the T.V. and to watch a good British detective programme - even the non-Brits reading this will know ‘Miss Marple’, ‘Hercule Poirot’ and ‘Midsomer Murders’.

Many of you will also know ‘Morse’. Set in Oxford and based on the stories of the late Colin Dexter, it follows the cases of a brilliant yet troubled detective, Inspector Morse. The success of ‘Morse’ led to the sequel ‘Lewis’, and, to the prequel ‘Endeavour’, a fantastic series that follows the younger Morse through his early policing career.

So, a Sunday evening a few weeks ago, the Art of the Movies team settled down on the sofa and turned on the television.

This is what we saw, and, it made us sit up and take notice… 

The Endeavour Artwork by The Red Dress Studio

Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio 

 

… Rather than the usual boring photo montage taken from the show, the channel (ITV) had commissioned a phenomenal piece of original artwork. A piece that perfectly portrays the main characters of the show, that captures the 1969 mood and atmosphere of the series, and, that is quite clearly inspired by the illustrated movie posters that we love so much.

We had to find out more...

A bit of research uncovered that the poster is the work of Olivia Chancellor and Ollie Bland from The Red Dress Studio. When we made contact, they were gracious enough to chat with us. Here are the highlights…

 

Art of the Movies : Hi! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. How would you describe ‘The Red Dress’? How did it come about and how would did you arrive at your distinctive style?

The Red Dress: Thanks so much for inviting us to chat.  The Red Dress is a commercial artist’s studio that specialises in vintage style poster illustration and design.

Ollie and I met at university, Central St. Martins, in 1996 studying BA Graphic Design.  Several years on,  Ollie had been working as an illustrator for various magazines. I was a picture framer and wardrobe assistant for commercials and film.

We’d always enjoyed buying pulp fiction, vintage magazines and annuals from jumble sales, car boot sales and charity shops, looking for the ones with the best illustrated covers.  When Ollie first moved in with me we bought ourselves a massive Bollywood poster for the wall from Portobello Market.

For a while Ollie and I had been talking about doing a project together.  We drew some sketches and paintings in various styles before we twigged that our combined love of b-movie posters, '80s film posters and pulp fiction should be the way forward. 

That day we painted our first b-movie image that went on to name our new business, The Red Dress.  It took about 3 months to put together a portfolio of about 10 images that we were happy with, then got ourselves an agent.

 

The original Red Dress poster
Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio 

 

(Art of the Movies - Take a look at the reproduced fold-lines, ageing and paper-loss in the image above. It's brilliant!)

Art of the Movies : It was quite a leap of faith for ITV and Mammoth Screen to go with an illustrated ‘movie style’ image, rather than the traditional photographic still. Given the stir it has created, we think it’s paid off! Do you know what inspired them to do this?

The Red Dress : ITV wanted to take a route that embodied the art style of the 60’s and 70’s as that is a key component of what has made Endeavour so authentic and successful.  The time period it’s set in is integral to the show and therefore to be true to the era, an illustration was going to work best.  It has taken them up to series 6 of Endeavour before commissioning an illustration though!!

 

Art of the Movies : Can you tell us about the Endeavour artwork, how did the commission come about and how did you go about producing the initial designs and the final proof?

The Red Dress : In mid December 2018 we were approached by ITV through our agent.  They sent some reference images from Endeavour for us to look through then set up a call to chat through their wants and needs.  A comprehensive brief was then sent to us, the emphasis being to stay true to the time period, to position Morse and Thursday as a duo, exude the shows high quality production and to embrace the Oxford setting.

The brief also referenced 'Dr No' artwork by Paul Mann, the 'Get Carter' movie poster illustration by Arnaldo Putzu and 'Coffy' artwork by George Akimoto.

 

Paul Mann's artwork for the James Bond film Doctor No

Image courtesy of Paul Mann (www.paulmannartist.com)

We went to Oxford and took photos of the architecture, watched and took screen grabs from the film edits and were sent further behind the scenes photos of the characters to work from.  From these we comped together an initial pencil sketch.  Everyone seemed happy, there were some minor changes but overall the composition stayed much the same.  A car was changed,  a smaller character placed in and a relevant building added to the skyline. Then we looked at the lighting, started adding colour, and tried to find a colour palette that works. The final digital file was sent to ITV on 4th January. [Art of the Movies - The series premiered on 10th February.]

 

A pencil sketch for the Endeavour poster by The Red Dress

Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio 

 

Art of the Movies : It’s clear that your style takes some influence from 20th Century illustrated movie posters. Over the 1990s and 2000s, film studios moved away from illustration to ‘photo-shopped’ movie posters. Over the last decade, we’ve seen the rise of the ‘alternative’ illustrated movie poster scene. We think that trend is influencing a return to more illustrated movie posters being commissioned. Are you seeing that?

The Red Dress : Yes, There have been a couple of high profile films recently with illustrated posters, e.g. Rory Kurtz’s 'Baby Driver' poster, so that's pretty exciting.  I really hope that it is a sign of change. Illustration can bring an element of intimacy, subtlety and atmosphere to an image that the standard photo-shopped posters don’t always capture.  Painted posters tend to be more playful and capture the essence of a film without stating the obvious.

I also wonder if the general bad taste left from unnecessary photo-shopped images of models/actors in magazines might also lead to more illustration being commissioned, as an alternative way of changing someone's appearance, size, skin etc.

 

The Red Dress' cover the October 2018 El Royale cover of Empire Magazine

 Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio

 

Art of the Movies : That's interesting. If you could ‘re-do’ a movie poster for any movie, which would it be? Why? And what would ‘The Red Dress’ version look like?!

The Red Dress : For me, the poster for 'The Shining' was lacking in depth and interest considering the magnitude of the film, so I’d like to give that a Red Dress makeover.  There are so many visually memorable elements and props in the film that could be used in the poster to hint at the darkness and foreboding. I think they took the easy way out!

We would LOVE LOVE LOVE to do an actual James Bond poster, that would be the ultimate in awesomeness!  To be fair, any film poster would be brilliant to work on. We have worked on a few DVD covers for some pretty cool films such as 'Catfight' and 'Foxy Brown' via Arrow Films and some great short film posters but a proper big one would be amazing!

The Red Dress' artwork the Foxy Brown campaign

Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio 

 

Art of the Movies : Finally, what can we expect next from ‘The Red Dress’ are there any projects in the pipeline that you can share with us?

We are currently working with an American cider company on a can design, a couple of editorial pieces both here and in The States, an album cover for a British rock musician and a national railway company.

We have a small online shop with prints for sale including a signed limited run of the Endeavour image at:

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TheRedDressLondon

www.thereddress.co.uk

https://www.instagram.com/_the_red_dress_/

https://twitter.com/The_Red_Dress

 

Art of the Movies: Best of luck with all of that, we better let you get back to work! Thank you so much for talking with us. We absolutely love the Endeavour artwork and we can't wait to see a Red Dress movie poster very soon!

 

Here's a little more of Olivia and Ollie's phenomenal work. 

Adam and the Art of the Movies team.

 

 Artwork by The Red Dress Studio

 Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio

 

A piece of artwork from The Red Dress

 Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio

 

 Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio

 Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio

 

   Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio

Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio

 

Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio

Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio

 

Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio

Image courtesy of The Red Dress Studio

 

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