Recently I come across the work of designer Tom Hodge by seeing his poster for Hobo With A Shotgun and became a huge fan instantly. I googled his name asap and found his personal website www.thedudedesigns.blogspot.com/ and discovered even more of his work. I was so impressed with his work that I decided to contact him and see if he could spare some of his time for a little interview for the site. He responded immediately and was gracious to answer a few questions that you see below.
IgorsLab: How long have you been in the graphic design field?
Tom Hodge: Well I've been doing graphic design now for over 10 years and man have I ever jumped all over the place in that time, covering quite a broad spectrum of design roles… I've learnt allot of different skills in the process though, so as old Jack Burton would say... I've paid my dues!
After doing 5 years in college and uni I started out in corporate business design, doing logos and brochures for companies whose work I couldn't even work I couldn't even describe! financial management that sort of thing… all very dry but they do have the cash to splash, so the industry has a bit of money in it and it was my first job out of uni, (I wanted to do book cover design but I had no money and they were offering peanuts). However I did learn more about logo and identity design which comes in useful with the ol' film titles. You tend to get allot of people who illustrate posters but not the titles so the title is created by a separate design company, in the final poster the two can then jar
stylistically sometimes so I try and make both elements work in unison, I left there as they went bust.
I then went into computer games with a small company called Empire, which was fun and a totally new learning ground; sadly they went bust as well.
There is a bit of a trend here by the way, I don't think one company I have worked for is still running… It’s not my fault by the way!
Then I went into Point of Sale, which was all about in store design for Home entertainment and Toys. Card displays and those units you see holding all the DVDs etc. I worked with allot of film assets, allot of Barbie and allot of Winnie the poo! again I got to learn a totally different set of skills and work
with graphics in more of a consumer 3D environment, (so I can also make you a kick ass standee for your film needed!!!). They merged with a bigger company and then went bust I think!
So I joined a smaller general design agency in Hoxton/shoreditch which was a happening place at the time, Vice magazine had their offices a few doors down etc. cool area but they started to struggle so i jumped ship to join…
PlayStation and now I work for them, I've designed covers for little big planet, Folklore (small game but nice cover), Mod Nation, Heavy Rain (that's a great one and if you can get hold of the UK special edition I did quite a nice fold out manual for it, my names hidden an ad for the Private eye on there too!).
I'm doing the poster work on the side so I don't get much free time these days working weekends and after hours. Hopefully the poster work will pay for itself and I can move on to doing that full time… before going bust!
IL: Who are some of your influences?
TH: Allot of memories from my child hood, seeing video covers on the shop shelves, or mobile video van did you ever have one of those (I’m still sure the guy who ran its was dodgey!!).
The work of Graham Humphreys (he did the posters for Evil Dead, Friday the 13th and an Awesome video cover for the UK release of Return of the living dead), i also like Stephen Romano (he has a great book out called Shock Festival) and Drew Struzan of course!
Also my library of many leather bound books on video Nasties, old VHS art, and just allot of classic poster design (wrong side of the art is great site to use).
If all goes to plan I’d love to get to a point where I could curate a gallery exhibition of all these old posters, allot of them are totally works of art in there own right, with many a fine artist painting them that just went uncredited. So they do deserve some recognition they were kind of the unsung
heroes of the movie industry.
IL: How did you get involved doing the poster for Father's Day?
TH: I get a few emails from independent directors and producers to work on their films, Adam Brooks the Director and Matthew Manjourides from Troma emailed me a few times about their film, They were VERY passionate about it all and it was a nice opportunity to work with some classic grind house material, They have some great visual characters to work with in the film.
IL: Since Father's Day is a Troma film do you have a particular favorite and why?
TH: Ah yeah the fact it was a Troma film did also spark my interest, it’s a great brand!
Toxic Avenger of course is great, (i remember the animated series as well that was awesome!) Class of Nuke 'Em High, Surf Nazis Must Die, Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., Chopper Chicks in Zombietown there all good man!!
IL: How did you get involved in doing the poster for Hobo With A ShotGun?
TH: I was doing video covers for Arrow and saw the poster that Hobo Released so emailed the blog and said I’d really like to do a poster for you guys, they said yeah great we'd love to see what you can do. Thing is you do require some source material to work form and make these illustrations work, i didn't have any but I knew the door was open so I just grabbed references off the web and the trailer,
and ran with it.
IL: With the posters for the films you have done what are your thoughts on them?
TH: The films or the posters? All are excellent of course!!!
IL: Do you have any posters for upcoming films you can discuss with us?
TH: Sure I've just finished a poster for the film The Legend of the Psychotic Forest ranger (TLOTPFR for short!) which is a homage to the old 80's slasher films, with some dark humour thrown in. so I’ve tried to encompass that essence of a classic slasher and depicted the archetypal killer scene (hopefully I've done for the axe what Hobo did for the shotgun, its Massive on the poster!!) and give the viewer an impression of what it would be like to be attacked by a psycho killer… in a cheesy 80's slayer film!
IL: How is your process like? And how long does it usually take you to do a
TH: Well I go away and do allot of research into the style of the move to try and work out the tone of voice to give the poster. If they want me to create a title to go with the poster I usually do that first
then work around that. I comp up some layouts working with assets or whatever. Something I would like to start doing as with TLOTPFR where there just wasn't any usable stills to work with and the screen grabs where to dark for any detail. So I sketched out some compositions and worked with a great photographer Corey Katz to do a shoot from for the main character getting some different reference angles, expressions etc... however it doesn't end there, that provides you with the reference but you still needed to do allot of reworking to extenuate to character and create an over the top dynamic angle which just couldn't be achieved in reality, give the poster that in your face quality! As i mentioned I would like to get involved early on in the whole process to get stills shot while the film is in production which would be tailored more to the design, usually you make the film the studio/set shots done by the photographer with no knowledge of what the poster is going to be or say. So when these are
then present them to a designer and told to make them into a poster! which limits the options and seems a bit backward. I'd actually like to move to the states so I can pop along take some quick reference snaps myself! That would be sweet.
The advantage of illustration though is you can then take these elements twist and tailor them to the design more, so freeing up the composition. It usually takes about a week or so for the concepts then around 2 to 3 weeks to illustrate, taking into account I still work full time so my hours are limited.
Its allot more hard and intense work than photoshoping imagery together, which is probably why we have ended up have going down that route, as it allows people to have a quicker turnover make more money out of the process, however you do lose quality so if we can get people to see the value in poster art for a film hopefully it will become allot more respected medium, which i feel is beginning to happen more now with the trend for limited edition prints and the popularity of nice poster designs on blogs and news sites, after all we are the demographic which the studios are selling to.
IL: Do you have any other upcoming projects in the works you care to discuss?
TH: I’ve got ALLOT on at the moment, i should have some free time around September! I think I'm safe to mention a sweet biker film called Dear God No! and the next job on is another horror film called Madison county.
IL: Lastly since this is a horror blog what is your favorite horror film of all-time and why?
TH: Oh man that's a doozey! er... I love The Thing it’s the first film i brought on DVD and then again on BluRay everything about it is brilliant and perfect… the effects are top notch and they do something you would NEVER be allowed today with the studio system the entire cast is men, (and some are even over 40!!!!... ground breaking stuff hey) i think that really adds to the vibe of the story! this total isolation, (these days you would have to have a model look girl in it who also happens to be a genetic scientist ... oh wait they are doing that in the new one aren't they!!) I’m a big fan of Horror films set in the snow, i also like Larry Fessendens Last Winter with Ron Perlman and James LeGros (great actor).
Another DVD that i push on anyone who comes over is Session 9 amazing film and a great angle on the whole horror film, with an amazing cast all shot on digital in a then standing abandoned mental asylum.
Ponty pool is another one, it got this haunting quality that just stays with you, I wanted to re watch again right after seeing it and I love the intro...
Also not forgetting the classics Night of the Living Dead, Return of the living, dead and I’m obsessed with Friday the 13th part 3 3D ever since I got hold of the 3D blu-Ray its sweeeeet.
Thanks to Tom Hodge for taking time to do the interview.