Ciara McAvoy Cops Three Awards for Her Iconic "Victor Frankenstein" DesignPosted on the 29 October 2015 by Thehollywoodinterview @theHollywoodInt
By Alex Simon
Influenced by legendary names in the movie poster trade such as Amsel, Drew Struzan, John Alvin, the brothers Hildebrandt, and Tom Jung, artist Ciara McAvoy works almost exclusively in oils for her much sought-after movie posters. However, she has built a broad repertoire of skills in other media (acrylic, watercolor, graphite, charcoal, and pastels) as well as storyboarding, animation, character design, and matte painting. She studied at L'École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, where she obtained her Diplôme Supérieur d'Art Plastique (D.S.A.P). Later, she expanded her artistic skill set to include costume design and historical fashion, which now play an integral supporting role in her posters and illustrations. She describes her modus operandi as “photorealism applied to movie posters.”
Her most recent work is the poster for Paul McGuigan’s Victor Frankenstein, set for release in November. The trailer for the film, which made its premiere at this year’s ComicCon, caused a stir on the Internet from bloggers and Tweeters alike. McAvoy's poster was recently lauded with three of the advertising and commercial art world's most prestigious awards: the Creativity International Award and two Davey Awards, the latter given out by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts. The fact that McAvoy's stunning poster art is generating so much heat not only for the artist, but the highly-anticipated film itself, isn't lost on the artist, who remains humble in the face of victory.
Ciara McAvoy chatted with The Hollywood Interview recently about her latest accolades. Here's what transpired:
Tell us about the three awards you've won, and break them down for us: what each is presented for, what they mean to the artistic community at large and to you as an artist, personally.
Sure. Any award I win is for the traditional art I create, which most often represents a movie. I'm always thrilled and flattered by those honors, because they re-affirm my choices. I'm delighted to know that my movie posters not only served a purpose, but also truly resonated with the judges, who represent the best of the best in the industry. There are a few in our profession who believe that there is no future for us, so they simply give up or retire. I think they’re wrong.
Digital and traditional arts are complementary and studios are making a big marketing mistake if they think those days are gone. There are a growing number of people who are tired of cheaply created, mass-produced Photoshop composite movie posters and dull marketing campaigns based on a selection of publicity slogans and stills. The positive audience responses I receive when I unveil a new poster proves that to me. It always warms my heart to know that my work makes a difference—and changes minds! I started counting my awards last year because studios are more willing to hire an award-winning artist these days. If you want to be taken seriously as an artist, not only your work has to be good in the eyes of the public (fans and all the movie buffs around the world), you have to prove yourself even more in front of international panels of professionals. Establishing that kind of credibility is the make-or-break element if you want them to attach a gold label of excellence to your work.
Could you give us a run-down of your most recent awards?
In 2014 I was honored with 2 awards for Filth: the 44th Creativity International Awards and the 10th annual Davey Awards, from the Academy of Interactive and Visuals Arts. 2015 started with another award for the same title at the 21st Annual Communicator Awards. The film was released on May 20, 2014 in the U.S. and the expected award time frame is one year after the release date. Three awards for my work on the Star Wars: Episode III anniversary poster. One award for X-Men. For the second year in a row, I was feted for my last Victor Frankenstein movie poster at the 45th Creativity International Print and Packaging Awards and also at the 11th Davey Awards, for my promotional poster and art illustration.
This isn't the first time you've received accolades from your peers. Does being the recipient of so much recognition make the creative process easier, more difficult, or does one have no effect on the other?
No, it doesn't make the creative process easier, because people are always expecting something exceptional from you from the level of your success. Someone like Drew Struzan is now severely judged; everyone just freaked out about the last Star Wars Luke-less artwork he created. The more renowned you are, the more people try to knock you down and the more you have to lose.
The Creativity International Award.
You mentioned that your treatment of the Victor Frankenstein poster may be one of the last "traditional posters to pay respect to the long-gone era of classical filmmaking magic." Can you amplify this a bit?
This is a difficult time for us. Much has been done to put things right and balanced between digital and traditional, but whether or not we traditional artists succeeded remains to be seen. We need more support behind us. There’s a new generation of artists who incorporate their hand-drawn illustrations into digital designs, which I see as an homage to the Golden Age. Most of them work for agencies since it's incredibly difficult to get a commission or individual credit working as a freelance artist. Besides, agencies unfortunately don’t always credit them when the work is done, either. I believe all aspects of artistic work used in a movie should be credited to the right person. We are a part of a finished product, it’s true, but Star Wars would be far less spectacular without the blood, sweat, and tears of Ralph McQuarrie, John Alvin, Ryan Church, and many others!
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of those time-honored subjects that has not only stood the test of time but has spawned fifty plus films since 1910, many of them great classics in their own right. Of course, along with those classic films come the gorgeous, memorable—not to mention highly prized—movie posters from the Golden Age. But today, the studios seem to have lost their faith in traditional poster artists; some of the worst Photoshop-made posters I’ve seen look like they’re an afterthought and have been slapped together within a few hours.
For Victor Frankenstein, I knew director Paul McGuigan found my work "amazing," and what an honor it was to hear those words from him, by the way. The distributor wanted his lead poster to be photographic in nature, though; so no matter how much you are involved on a project, want or support the idea of a traditionally illustrated poster, sometimes you win and sometimes you don't. The fact that the art has won multiple awards and is part of the online campaign means nothing when the marketing team goes in a completely different direction. I’m completely determined to keep going, knowing from time to time, and perhaps increasingly, the major studios will be willing to hire more traditional illustrators. When it comes to that, Marvel has already set a great example for other studios.
There is a great affection over at Marvel for painted prints. They’ve been working closely with graphic artist, Olly Moss, and the guys over at Mondo on the print promotion front. These relationships have been amazing for both sides of the table, and they have plans in place for the next couple of films to keep growing those ties and releases. So, I'm going to take a trip on this ship and should have something really exciting for Marvel fans very soon!
How closely did you work with director Paul McGuigan on the poster's design? Do you enjoy collaborating with others when you design a new work, or do you prefer to be solitary?
I enjoy collaborating with directors when it's possible, to get a better idea of what they have in mind before I start a new work. Painting, like many artistic activities, is a solitary undertaking. Taking control of my brushes and paint is like using a time machine; time whizzes by and my interactions with others are limited. I had no real guidance from the director, but the bigger the production the less control you have on the marketing side. We exchanged emails, he asked me to access my Victor Frankenstein posters in my Dropbox so he can see and edit my folder, but I can't say we worked very closely.
Ciara poses with Victor Frankenstein star James McAvoy (no relation).
Do you plan on having any gallery showings of your work in the near future? If so, when and where?
Yes I plan on opening a Film art gallery in Edinburgh or Glasgow in the next couple of years. I'll be hosting events and exhibitions, which in turn promote the work of outsider artists who create movie art. Of course, part of the gallery will be hosting my own paintings as well. Until that, I can be commissioned through CMCV Studios exclusively, my design agency in Glasgow, which specializes in creating film advertising campaigns for a wide range of U.S. and international clientele.
Many people have expressed interest in purchasing copies of the posters you've designed. Is there a website people can order from?
Many artists sell copies of their "fan" art at a show during Comic-Con Conventions or online to make a living, but that's illegal. You have no legal right to profit from work featuring characters without permission from the copyright holder. You have almost no rights to create such works, especially not to make a profit. That's why I make a point of selling only my originals when I officially worked on a campaign and have a contract signed somewhere or an official “go-ahead” from the distributor or the director. There are few paintings left and available to purchase at CMCV Studios (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Anything further you'd like to add?
Traditional art IS affordable—for the right price. So my message to directors out there: “Don't be shy and ask before thinking I'm out of your league.”
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