Art for a Cause: A Conversation with Stephen Richards

Every year, Stephen Richards puts his design skills to the test by creating alternate posters for all of the Best Picture Oscar nominees. This year, he is taking his project one step further by selling his designs for charity. 100% of the proceeds will be going to the ACLU, and Stephen will be matching all donations with a contribution to Planned Parenthood. This is a great opportunity to adorn your walls with fantastic, exclusive artwork, while putting your dollars to two great causes.

Cinedelphia spoke with Stephen about this year’s designs:

Cinedelphia: For as long as we’ve know each other you’ve been putting out yearly Oscar posters for the Best Picture nominees. Why did you initially begin this project?

Stephen Richards: When I was in school, we were thrown a bunch of different projects using different mediums to create art pieces. There was one class I really loved…I think it was Digital Composition…but our ultimate task was to create a “fake movie poster.” Alpha Dog had just come out, and you know how much of a die hard Die Hard fan I am, so I envisioned an action movie where Justin Timberlake and Bruce Willis saved the world from a nuclear disaster. By far my favorite project in school, though the art files are now lost. I like to think this annual project stems from that experience, mixed with my unending passion for cinema. Long story short, I love movies and I want to pay tribute to the ones that are deemed the best of the year using the skills I have.

C: This year you’re selling your designs to raise money for charity. Why did you decide to do so? Tell us about the charities as well as what you hope to accomplish.

SR: I’m not a huge fan of the direction this country is heading in and I’m fairly vocal about that. I’ve had many a night wondering “what change can I affect?” So, I guess you can say this is my attempt at a contribution. I’m donating 100% of the proceeds from these posters to the ACLU, which protect the rights of women, Muslims and immigrants. I’m also personally matching all of those donations towards Planned Parenthood. I’m not expecting a huge pool of money to go to these charities, but I am hoping to inspire anyone who has any craft or trade to understand that they too can make small impacts on our future. And as we know from film, there are no small parts.

C: Agreed. Every little bit helps. If anything, we are going to see a lot of great art emerging from the next few years. Despite the variety of films in each year’s Best Picture pool, you always manage to tie each poster together visually. What factors lead to this year’s style? How would you describe said style?

SR: It’s actually kind of a Graphic Design secret, so I can’t really tell you. Hahaha. Usually every year does have some sort of common visual aesthetic. In 2011 I used a lot of iconography. In 2012, all the titles had the same text treatment. This year, for the first time ever, I’m actually using likenesses from the actors and treating this exercise as though I was actually commissioned to make these posters for the first time.

C: They do indeed look ‘official.’ This is the best year for your designs so far. Is there an un-nominated movie from this past year that you’d like to make a poster for? Please say Swiss Army Man.

SR: “Swiss Army Man.”

A lot of good movies came out this year. There was actually a musical that came out that I, personally, think was LEAGUES better than La La Land in virtually every way, which was an Irish film called Sing Street. That would probably be the poster that I would like to create if given the time. Or Rogue One because I’m a huge Star Wars fanboy and that movie made me cry.

C: Thank you for saying Swiss Army Man. Give us your hopes and predictions. What’s going to win Best Picture? What SHOULD win Best Picture?

SR: I’ve been carrying the torch for Moonlight literally up until the day before the Oscars. Moonlight was fucking phenomenal. However, after watching Lion, I have to say that’s probably my pick for Best Picture. I don’t think it will win, but in my heart, it’s the Best Picture. I honestly think that Moonlight WILL win (and it’s a sharp close second for me) because that movie was on another level as far as storytelling is concerned. Just please not La La Land. Sure, it was a fine movie. But I can name 15 musicals that have been better in the last decade that didn’t exclusively have white people in them. Come on, guys.

C: B-b-but John Legend…

Preview the rest of Stephen’s designs below. Prints available for purchase here.

Author: Dan Scully

Dan Scully is a film buff and humorist living in a tiny apartment in Philadelphia. He hosts the podcast I Like to Movie Movie and is the proud father to twin cactuses named Riggs & Murtaugh. Also, he doesn’t really mind when Batman kills people. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *