"Sometimes, people don’t really say what they’re really thinking. But you capture the right moment… it says more."
When I first heard about Netflix's new smash hit "Stranger Things", I was intrigued by the general synopsis and initial trailer. As with most things in my life as a human in his 30's, I expected to catch it "at some point" between everyday life responsibilities and hopefully find it somewhat enjoyable. When I finally put the first episode on when it was released, I was so quickly drawn in and transported to the world the Duffer brothers created that I was unable to escape. I was sucked into the Upside Down so strongly that I sat on my couch for an entire day following my new favorite characters grow, learn and fight through their journeys.
Through and through, I am an 80's kid. My first films ever (at the age of 3 mind you) were "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Muppets Take Manhattan" and I continued my love of films through adolescence being obsessed with such classics as: The Goonies, E.T., Aliens, Gremlins and the list goes on and on. My love for Spielberg-ian films was incredibly strong and would shape the kinds of films that would stick in my mind for years to come. As I ventured into the world of books at a young age (Oh, the joys of being a huge child geek), my tastes revolved around Stephen King. I remember at the age of 7 reading "Pet Semetary" and just being blown away by the terrifying world and scenarios my mind created just by reading King's beautifully crafted work. With all of this backstory on the table, it's really no surprise I fell madly in love with "Stranger Thing". A great friend of mine mentioned after she watched it and uttered "It's like the creators went into your mind, took everything you love and turned it into a show. This was made for you.". She was dead right.
The show was so immersive in it's storytelling and so confident in it's existence that I was so comfortably along for the ride. Often, I'll watch a show (I've watched a lot of shows) and hone in it's weakest link(s) immediately. Often it will revolve around poor casting, lazy acting, plot holes galore, poor cinematography, you name it. With "Stranger Things", I was so surprised by how quickly I got a sense of who these characters were and how much I cared about them almost immediately. The child actors especially deserve an enormous amount of kudos, as I completely believed these characters' bonds, personalities and responses to such incredible circumstances. These characters' arcs felt organic, not forced - which is normally difficult to achieve in 8 episodes with that many characters to service. The unfolding of the story kept me at the edge of my seat while also being tender and heartfelt. I could fanboy for another 18 paragraphs, but I'll just say that If you haven't given this a shot and love the genres of horror, sci-fi with some 80's Spielberg thrown in, Go Watch It Now!
With all of that said, the past few months have seen my creativity block getting the best of me. I'm a pop-culture based artist and found myself feeling as though I'd tapped my well a bit. This show and some eye opening life moments gave me the spark I needed to get back into the game by creating this poster piece. When thinking of all of the things I could have approached in a poster for "Stranger Things" I realized that there was an overwhelming amount of material to choose from. Instead of going bonkers by over-stuffing the piece with every character, every favorite moment, every story theme- I chose to take a page from my younger self's book. I thought about what worked best for me when creating my print for Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and realized that Simplicity and being iconic allowed the viewer to build upon the tone created and fill in some of the blanks. This approach allows the viewer to go to these places in their mind about THEIR favorite moments or beats in the show while lending a suggestion through the use of silhouettes and shadowed figures. I had a blast working on this and it came to me organically and from the heart. Something this show has in spades.
Hope you enjoyed my mini-review and blurb on the process of this piece. Until next time you mouth-breathers.