Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Favorites

Since it's Halloween, I have been compiling a list of the staffs' favorite horror movie posters. The guys had multiple favorites, picking both posters for the art's sake and ones where they liked the movie. The girls, well, we struggled a little more with this one. However, I think we have a pretty awesome and spooky range of posters.

Robin's pick is "Screaming Skull" because she liked the movie, plus how can you pass up the offer of a free burial if you die from fright.

Gabe's choice was "The Thing" because it's the only horror movie poster he owns. We also got lucky enough a few months ago to see an original drawing of The Thing by Drew Struzen.

Melissa pick was "The Black Cat." Then after a moments thought also added the one with the aliens whose heads look like Brussels sprouts. John clarified for me that this was a poster for the movie "The Invasion of the Saucer-Men." 

Junior went with a contemporary silkscreen "Frankenstein" by Laurent Durieux.

Aaron's first choice was the "Exorcist" as both one of the best horror movies and best posters, but then he added the original Dracula to the list, too.

Katie's choice was "Rosemary's Baby" and I'm going to add the contemporary silkscreen by New Flesh for it as well.

Chelsea picked a beautiful silkscreen, a variant of Vania Zouravliov and Aaron Horkey's "Dracula".

I'm going to go with an Italian 2 panel of "Tales from the Crypt" because the colors on it are so vibrant.

John has pretty much seen them all, so he had a hard time narrowing it down. But he just got back from Austin a few weeks ago where he got to go to the Mondo gallery and so he picked two from their new exhibit, including " Bride of Frankenstein" by Kevin Tong and "The Mummy" by Laurent Durieux. And just to mix things up a bit, he added Malleus' variant of Tenebrae. 

We hope you enjoy our favorites and have a Happy Halloween!

And just in case you didn't see the link on the last post, don't forget to check out the introduction for our upcoming video blog:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

1939 New York World's Fair poster

In 1939 the US was looking back on the Great Depression and forward to the possibility of war with clouds of conflict looming overseas, but they were also looking towards what they hoped would be a brighter future. (Sounds kind of familiar, right?) Technology was thought to be the hope that would spark a turning point in a new world order and the 1939 New York World's fair had exhibitions from all over the world that demonstrated this dream of a better future through technology. And as you might expect, the posters from the fair show the sleek, modern and sometimes futuristic design style that was starting to become popular. And as the title and this brief history lesson suggests, we have the restoration of a New York World's Fair poster as this week's featured project.

Pictured: You know when a client tells you to be careful opening the package its never a good thing. This particular package contained a poster that was broken in half.

The poster depicts the iconic Trylon and Perisphere that were the "Theme Center" for the fair. And as you can see the buildings are very futuristic looking. Unfortunately this piece of American history was mounted to cardboard at some point and then later the cardboard and the poster split in half.

In order to join the two pieces back together, the cardboard had to be removed first. John was able to demount the poster from the cardboard on the back by shaving it off in layers.

Pictured: It doesn't look like it, but this is positive progress because even though the poster is split in half it was no longer mounted to cardboard which is very corrosive.

Once it was off the cardboard, we were able to wash the poster and get the two separate pieces aligned and as close as possible while it was suspended between sheets of Mylar.

Pictured: The posters first bath to rinse out 70 years of built up toxins.

A water soluble adhesive was applied to the back of the poster, very gently so neither piece moved after they had been positioned. Tension between the Mylar and the wet poster held it in position while I moved it over to the linen and Masa backing. 

Pictured: After it has been rinsed and squeegeed but before the poster is flipped over and glue is applied to the back.

Pictured: Quickly moving it over to the stretched linen and frame.

Below is a progress photo and although the two separate pieces are back together, there is an obvious gap between the two where there was paper loss when they broke apart. The border also needed some TLC.

Pictured: Progress photo!

In prep vintage paper was mitered in to fill the missing areas in the border. The break between the two pieces was not large enough for us to use paper to fill it, so we used a filling compound that is applied with a palette knife and then smoothed out.

Pictured: The after photo once prep was finished.

Pictured: A detail of the break in the paper after it has been filled.

Pictured: Here is a section of the border where the corner was missing and then patched.

This poster had faded a lot over the years, so the client asked us to punch up the colors in the words in addition to restoring the damaged areas. Aaron airbrushed these areas, but the section that needed the most attention was the break that went through the Perisphere. This was not a straight one color shot because the Perisphere was a sphere shaped building and so we had to give it back the illusion that it was a three dimensional object.

Pictured: Junior and Gabe did several masks for this piece, including this one that was for some of the areas in the black where there was pigment loss along the top.

Pictured: This is the mask for Aaron to paint the Perisphere. If you look closely at the brown paper on the left you can see the faint outline of an acetate circle that was removed from the protective layer to open up the sphere.

Pictured: Aaron working on the first layer of airbrush.

Pictured: A dramatic improvement once it is done.

After Aaron had restored the large areas, Katie was given the poster to do the small details that really bring the restoration work together into a complete piece. Katie has a great eye for miniscule details that some would never see, but to our clients who prefer their posters to look pristine the small issues stand out like a sore thumb.

Pictured: Katie working on a detail so small you can't tell what she is working in this picture.

Pictured: Ahhh, there it is!

Pictured: Again, working on something that the camera can't pick up.

And here it is, one whole poster with the Trylon and Perisphere restored to their futuristic awesomeness!
At some point in the last few weeks I told you that we began work on a video blog. It takes time to film and then especially to edit that film into something that is viewable and interesting, but we finally have the introduction to our video blog! You can check it out on youtube:

It should be noted that several crucial steps in our process have been omitted. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us via email at or by phone at 818.882.1214. Also check out our websites: and Please feel free to leave comments or questions on the blog!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Long Awaited Update on Black Pirate!

In January we put up posts about a project that has been ongoing for a long time, the Black Pirate poster. (Click here and here to see the old posts) Just to review, the Black Pirate poster is a 1926 silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks. It is a rare movie poster and the owner of this particular one bought it glued to a board at a garage sale. It has been living in the studio for the past few years in various states. First deteriorating on a board, then removed from the board in pieces before the surviving segments were linen backed. The paper that was missing was added back in. Then it sat in the studio for another few months because even for Poster Mountain this is a big project to tackle.

When you last saw the poster it looked like this...

I feel compelled at this point to talk about the difference in levels of restoration. John has always emphasized that any work we do, whether it is just conservation or a major restoration project like this, should maintain the integrity of the piece and our company. This particular poster came to us glued to a board and because of the adhesive that was used we had no other recourse during the demount process but to take it off in pieces. Which means that by the time it was brought back together it was never going to look exactly like it once had. This leaves us working with the client to come to a happy medium about how much restoration we feel comfortable performing.

This Black Pirate poster is a special case. It is an extremely rare poster, the client loves this poster and has no intention of selling it, he simply wants to be able to enjoy this piece of cinematic history as it was meant to be. The amount of restoration we are performing on this poster is extreme, but it is an aberration from what we do or even advise our clients to ask for on a day to day basis. With that caveat, we can continue with our regularly scheduled blog post.

To create a unified whole, this poster is getting a lot of airbrushing. Each individual color involves separate masks for airbrushing, matching the colors and then building up thin layers of paint until it looks right. We had previously masked off and airbrushed the black in the lower third, as well as the low lights in Fairbanks' boots and in the flag. Gabe and Aaron next worked on the orange of the railing of the ship.

Pictured: Gabe cut out the orange shapes of the railing, leaving the rest covered in acetate.

Pictured: This was in the middle of airbrushing and Aaron pulled out some of the other masks, like those left over from painting the flag.

Gabe uses acetate, which is a clear plastic film, to cover the area around what Aaron is working on along with the brown paper that covers the majority of the poster. Since the acetate is clear, Aaron is able to see a certain amount of the area around what he is painting. This gives him a better idea of the over all look that he is trying to create because his view is not narrowed down to just the thing he is airbrushing.

Pictured: Aaron tempered the orange with a little bit of yellow, which he also used to do the metal work on the chest that Douglas Fairbanks is sitting on.

Then we got really busy and the poster spent most of the summer on the back burner. So a few weeks ago, the guys picked it back up again and began working on the sky and the ship in the background. 

We have a high quality picture of another of these posters that Gabe uses for reference. When he and Aaron begin working on a piece he prints out larger than life sections of the specific areas they need so they have good guidelines to work with. 

Pictured: You can't see it that well, but there is acetate that covers everything but the sky.

Pictured: Ok, I know the poster is upside down, but if you look really closely you can see the areas that Gabe has opened up and where Aaron has applied several layers of paint.

Pictured: Shot of the boat mask while it is still on the poster.

Picture: After both the sky and the boat have been airbrushed.
And here is the glamour shot! You can see that we have also cleaned up the border in addition to the other areas that I mentioned. It is beginning to come back together as a whole and there is light at the end of the tunnel for this project.

The ocean is the last major area to be airbrushed before the piece will be handed off to Melissa who will polish up the small details. We should have another update of this project posted in the next couple of weeks. So, stay tuned!

It should be noted that several crucial steps in our process have been omitted. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us via email at or by phone at 818.882.1214. Also check out our websites: and Please feel free to leave comments or questions on the blog!