by: Adam Glass – Staff Writer/Contributor
We all have hobbies and things we have collected over the years. Some of us collect comics, toys, movies….it’s all good. What if though you were able to turn that love of what you collect into three beautiful books and multiple documentaries? That would be pretty damn cool. Well that’s what Matthew Chojnacki has done with his love of art. Specifically movie and music art. Matthew has just released his third book titled “Alternative Movie Posters II: More Film Art from the Underground” and is an Executive Producer on at least FOUR upcoming documentaries.
I got to chat with Matthew and find out what “Alternative Movie Posters” is all about and where he is headed next.
How did you come to curate the book “Alternative Movie Posters”?
I was a huge collector of movie posters as a kid, up through the mid-90s (Pulp Fiction and Mallrats may have been my last two). But as we all know, at around that time most studios moved from hand-drawn art to less creative, photographic-style posters (read: dull and unframable). How many head shots of Tom Cruise does one need?
However, about 7-10 years ago (also being a huge music fan), I started to collect concert gig posters for my favorite bands. During that time I was at the Pitchfork Music Festival (Chicago, IL) and noticed that gig poster artists were starting to dabble with one-off, newly-created film posters for film festival and cult showings. These posters were often better than the originals, and I was instantly hooked, buying Pink Flamingos by Lure Design that day. This was the first poster considered for Alternative Movie Posters (volume one) and the book quickly moved from there.
Did you always know you wanted to do a second book?
As soon as I finished the first volume I was itching to write a second.
The original idea for the first book was to include 200 posters from 100 artists / 20 countries, which was a real stretch at the time. I probably had 110-120 to choose from. Slim pickings for sure.
However, by the time volume one was released the underground film art movement had completely exploded, and I felt that a second volume was justified since the style and quality of art was changing so quickly. With volume two there were easily 300-400 artists to choose from and artists were taking the medium to a new level. Black light, glow-in-the-dark, metallic, and scented inks, as an example.
“Alternative Movie Posters: VOL II“ was chosen as the official gift for this year’s LA Film Critics’ Awards. How did that come about? You must have been stoked.
So exciting. There’s a whole system to gift-giving at conventions, awards shows, and events. Typically awards shows work with agencies to choose items that they feel their participants might get a kick out of, and the LA FIlm Critics had Alternative Movie Posters II on their list. Given that Los Angeles is in the heart of the industry, I thought that it was a great opportunity not only for the book but also for the artists involved.
Do you have a favorite new artist? Favorite poster of 2015?
I am a huge horror buff, so my go-to name has recently been Chris Garofalo (aka “Quiltface”). Besides being the nicest guy in the industry, his work continuously knocks it out of the park. He’s very fan-friendly, knows the genre inside and out, and is just starting to receive attention that is long-overdue (for example, he created the Blu-ray cover for the upcoming killer insect ‘78 cult classic The Bees). Ever since I bought his poster for Black Christmas I was hooked. Piranha might be my second-favorite of his. And then there’s Suspiria, and The Event Horizon, and Halloween III, and…
Any property you would like to see an alternative poster made for that doesn’t have one yet?
I’d really like to see more comedies, to be honest. Alternative movie posters tend to veer very sci-fi and horror. But there are a handful of artists going outside of the genre box here. Dave Perillo, Darin Shock, Clark Orr, and Steve Dressler (who created the book covers for both volumes), to name a few.
Anything John Waters would be up my alley. His films are prime for the most inventive, twisted posters possible. A scented poster for Polyester is just screaming to be made.
So tell me a bit how you came to compile your first book “Put the Needle on the Record”?
Put the Needle on the Record: The 1980s at 45 Revolutions per Minute was a 7-year labor of love. I have a large 7” and 12” vinyl single collection and always thought that single cover artwork, despite being so great in the ‘80s, was more or less lost imagery. Singles lasted for a few months on store shelves in the ‘80s, whereas album covers exist forever (albeit in a smaller form with digital media).
So, over this 7-year period I tracked down 125+ of the original cover artists and musicians to get the stories behind the images (from Gary Numan to Annie Lennox to The Fat
Boys). Most had not been contacted about the artwork up until that point.
The book was also a form of “vinyl closure” for me. I had a large collection of vinyl singles and albums, and since only indie artists (at the time) were releasing new albums/singles on vinyl, I wanted to encapsulate the 1980s as the last great eras of vinyl 7-inchers.
Of course, cut to a few years later, and now vinyl pressing plants are bursting at the seams. It’s surreal, and I have been snatching up new vinyl all over again.
We all have our favorite 7”, 12” and LP art. What were some of your favorites?
The head-turners were always artists like Grace Jones and Gary Numan. You didn’t know what was in the package, but you couldn’t stop staring at the cover and had to find out. New wave artists in general tend to stand up rather well for me visually. Eurythmics, Depeche Mode, Pet Shops Boys, New Order, etc.
To me it seems like a good album/record cover is few and far between nowadays. It’s a lost art. Do you have any favorite covers from the past few years?
I think that the indies are still cranking them out. Whenever you have up-and-coming musicians hanging out with up-and-coming photographers and designers, there is some great synergy that can happen. This is what the early ‘80s were all about. Madonna, Grace Jones, and Debbie Harry were just casually hanging with artist legends like Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat — and everyone was inspiring each other.
Some of my recent favorites are Blur’s The Magic Whip, Shamir’s Ratchet, Yacht’s I Thought the Future Would be Cooler, and Bjork’s Vulnicera (the vagina-esque LP version).
Are you planning any more books?
I would love to write more books, and have a few different ideas going. However, in the near future I’ve attached myself to a series of documentaries in various roles. I think of documentaries as a great visual extension of the books that I’ve been working on the past five years. The documentaries (four total, two yet-to-be announced) are all art, film, and music-related. Honestly, it’s been surreal.
You are the Executive Producer for the upcoming documentary “30 Years of Garbage: The Garbage Pail Kids Story” I just saw the trailer and it looks great. How did you get involved in this?
Co-Director Joe Simko was included in Alternative Movie Posters (volume I), doing a killer job on Killer Klowns from Outer Space (which was featured in the NY Times), and The Evil Dead.
I know that Joe had been working hard on the GPK documentary (he’s a GPK artist himself), and this past year at New York Comic Con we were chatting about the project. There was a spot where more assistance was needed on the production level, and I jumped right in. As a huge fan of GPK cards (and counter-culture art in general), this project is a dream.
It seems to be for than just about the GPK fad which is great. What can we look forward to hearing about?
Without giving too many details away, the documentary is much, much (much!) more than simply covering the fad and viral nature of the cards. It also details the history of Topps, the related GPK artists, the controversy and banning of the series, a failed movie picture, the personal nature of each hand-crafted card (each was hand-painted!), and the politics of artists working in a corporate environment. Did I also mention the idea of selling “soft R-rated” cards to kids? It’s a much larger and fascinating story that the average fan realizes, and is already exceeding my (high) expectations in terms of entertainment value. Unfortunately, however, stale gum is not included.
You have been a busy guy because you are also the Executive Producer on the documentary film 24×36. What can you tell me about this?
Twenty-Four by Thirty-Six is a fantastic encapsulation of the history of film art, from inception, to its modern death in the mid-’90s, to the recent resurgence on the underground (see not only Alternative Movie Posters, but also Mondo, Gallery 1988, etc.).
Many of the artists featured in the books were interviewed, and I must say that it’s impressive.
Director Kevin Burke just began to submit it to the film festival circuit in early 2016 and I hope to be in attendance for at least a few of the screenings. The talent level in the film is mind-blowing: Jason Edmiston, Gary Pullin, Akiko Stehrenberger, Tracie Ching, Chris Garofalo, Paul Ainsworth, Matt Ryan Tobin, Tom Hodge, a host of galleries (Mondo, Hero Complex), and historical artists like William Stout (Rock ‘N Roll High School, Monty Python’s Life of Brian) and Roger Kastel (Jaws, The Empire Strikes Back).
It’s *pure* eye candy, and I can’t wait for it to grace the big screen.
Thank You Matthew for taking the time to chat with me.
Check out and purchase all Matthew’s books at www.matthewchojnacki.com