Paul Shipper: The new generation
Throughout the past year, everyone I had interviewed for the film was more or less a contemporary of Richard Amsel, including close friends, associates, and colleagues. But there remained an important subject heretofore unaddressed – and a critical one in honoring Richard Amsel’s enduring legacy.
While the Golden Age of traditional poster illustration may be over, a new generation of artists and illustrators have sprung in its wake. Kids who grew up in the ‘80s remember fondly the works of Peak, Amsel, Alvin and Struzan, and some of them have moved on to creative careers of their own.
The first person in my mind who I felt could best speak for this new generation was, without question, the great Paul Shipper – an English illustrator whom I’ve known since we were both in our early twenties. Seeing him emerge from an artistic young movie fan into an internationally recognized professional illustrator is inspiring -- someone whose talent and achievements I’ve both envied and admired.
I’ve teased him about this, too. The guy does great work, and does it fast – so much so that when he recently unveiled another one of his stunning posters, I commented, “I hate you. I love you. Fucker.” While I’m just thrilled at having my artwork featured on the inside sleeve of a CD album cover, Paul’s work has sprung up everywhere, from posters and DVD covers, to – in the Amsel tradition – art for GQ and Penguin books.
Paul is one of the few illustrators working today who has bridged the gap between traditional hand-drawn illustration and the digital age. So seamless is his digital painting technique that it’s hard to differentiate between what’s pencil and what’s pixel.
Knowing he was going to be at this year’s Comic-Con, I drove down to San Diego to interview Paul at his hotel. We’d met face to face only once before, but through all our conversations over the years, I’ve come to value Paul as a true friend and trusted colleague. It was wonderful to see him again.
What I liked so much about Paul’s interview was how, as we’re about the same age**, he was able to articulate many of the feelings and experiences I had, as both a movie fan and growing up in Amsel’s creative shadow.
“Amsel’s posters and his artwork inspired generations,” Paul said, “and if he was here today I’d just want to shake his hand and thank him for his contribution, and for giving us all dreams, and for making us realize that anything’s possible.”
**Paul’s three years younger, though taller, with a full head of hair, and much better looking. And in full disclosure, I'm standing on my tippy-toes in this photo.