Wednesday, September 8, 2010

More Illustrated Savoir Faire

We are all familiar with the work of one of the most prolific graphic illustrators of the late twentieth century; however how many of us actually know the name behind some of the most iconic movie posters ever created?

The same artist was also responsible for a mountainous volume of advertising copy for various companies which embodied all the savoir faire of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. In my humble opinion he could almost be the American equivalent of Rene Gruau.

The artist in question is Bob Peak, who has often been called the ‘father of the modern movie poster’. Singlehandedly he transformed the then traditional approach of movie advertising from basic collages of film stills or head shots to flamboyant artistic illustrations. His work included also included over 45 covers of Time with the most famous being his portrayal of Mother Teresa.

From advertising copy for companies such as Pepsi and Winston cigarettes to fashion illustration the Peak style is instantly recognizable. The subjects possessing all the savoir faire in the world as they use the featured product or wearing the featured clothes. Editorial illustrations were done for such magazines as Cosmopolitan and McCall’s.

TWA airlines commissioned posters, menus and magazine covers such as the ones below.

His movie poster career virtually took off when United Artists hired him to help promote west Side Story and the rest is history. The poster is a classic and recognized all over the world. Peak went on to create some of the most famous posters of the era including My Fair Lady, Funny Girl, Hair, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Apocalypse Now and countless others, with his final movie poster being for James Bond’s The Spy who Loved Me, which I copied in High School.

The illustrations themselves are glamorous; they also convey an idealized world which the rest of us aspired to. Some of the most famous names whether they are movie stars, politicians or just the man in the street have had the Peak treatment.

One of his greatest commissions was from US Post for 30 stamps commemorating the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles

They don’t draw them like this any more!


  1. I wasn't aware of Bob Peak, so it is great to read of his works - thanks, David.

  2. I love the poster for My Fair Lady, but I didn't know who made it - so thank you!
    Is it just me or the girl in the 5th poster looks an awful lot like Penelope Cruz?

  3. Bob Peak's illustrating style was distinctive, and his use of color was bold. It's hard to imagine today how much he transformed illustration and advertising. I still look at movie posters, particularly the montages designed for epics, and think - Bob Peak! Thanks for all these great images! ... Mark

  4. While I recognize so many of these images, I did not know the name of the artist who did them.

    I actually prefer this type of commercial art over much of the so called fine art. The look is crisp, modern and bold, and he is a brilliant colourist. I also like that the style is representational and clear. It is easy to see why he was so popular and had such a long career. I would call him the Henry Mancini of illustration....

    I wonder what his "pad" looked like! I'll bet it had a bar and was very cool.

    Thank you

  5. i really love commercial art. my mate shelley at gallerie monmarte has some incredible french posters.

    cool post!

  6. Very informative. Thank you.
    You are right ... they don't draw them like this anymore... it's all been replaced by computerized art work... really sad!

  7. Spoiled, yes it does look like Ms Cruz!

    Jules, Commercial art is one of my faves also, there is so much range and styles that we can all realte to.

    Cote, I do so agree with you. Computerized artwork just does not carry the same punch.

    Mark, thanks fo your comments and visiting my blog. One of the true great commercial artists.

    MR SWF, you made me laugh with the use of the word "pad". It conjured up all sorts of images!

  8. Bob Peak did incredible work, but please do check out the work of my ex-fiance's father, Paul Crifo. He did amazing movie poster illustrations and was of the same generation as Bob Peak. His one sheets included 'The Great Escape', 'Zorba The Greek', 'In The Heat Of The Night', 'How To Succeed In Business' and many more.


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