Interview with illustrator and film fan Joe Boyd

In the wake of upcoming screenings of Thomas Vinterberg's 'Another Round' and Harry MacQueen's 'Supernova', the Hyde Park Picture House sat down with talented local illustrator Joe Boyd, to discuss the stunning posters he has designed for the two films. In this illuminating chat, Joe talks about his inspirations, how he got into illustration, and the processes he uses to create his works.


Hi Joe! We’re big fans of your work here at the Picture House, and its been wonderful to see the recent artwork you’ve produced for both Another Round and Supernova for StudioCanal. We know you’ve worked with StudioCanal for a little while now on alternative poster designs. Could you tell us more about how you came to work with them?

Thanks so much! Yeah, it’s been great to see them released into the wild. I finished the Supernova design way back in December of last year so it’s been extra exciting having them come out as cinemas reopen.

Supernova final poster design  - Joe Boyd

Studiocanal first reached out to me a few years ago after finding my work on Twitter. I’d been commissioned by a design studio called Human After All to do an alternative poster for Scorsese’s Silence and it was spotted by a marketing manager at Studiocanal who kindly asked me to do an illustration for their upcoming cinematic release. Since then I’ve created film artworks for them on and off, varying from animations for use online, to printed artworks for cinema releases.

Films can often provide such great inspiration for artists, illustrators and creatives to produce some really interesting new work. When creating illustrations for film posters, are there any specific elements of the film which you tend to think about more than others?

My interest in film began at a similar time to when I was really getting into illustration, I was reading every issue of Little White Lies magazine and following film poster blogs. Back when I was 16 or 17 in college I actually entered a Little White Lies film poster competition and won a box full of Studiocanal dvds. So things have come full circle! And yeah, film and illustration are pretty tightly linked for me.

In terms of looking at a film to create an illustration - my work focuses a lot on motifs and symbols so that’s definitely what I look for straight away. Is there any imagery that neatly ties into or sums up the themes of the film? For example in Supernova, stars or the Lake District landscape are clear motifs as are bottles of champagne in Another Round. Then I’m just trying to take in the overall atmosphere of the film and take note of how the film communicates that through its use of composition and colour.

Supernove - rough sketch

Could you explain a little about the process which happens when creating the poster? Do you produce a number of rough sketches to begin with? How much is hand drawn vs mouse drawn? Has your approach changed much over the years?

I’ll begin drawing by hand. Pencil on paper. Loads of super quick sketches based around those motifs I’ve picked out as well as drawing from any reference material the clients provided such as images or clips from the film as well as the trailers. I'm just sketching away looking for compositions or ideas that look interesting. 

Joe Boyd - Rough Sketches

I used to go straight into drawing digitally in Adobe Photoshop at this stage but I’ve found, through trial and error, that my ideas flow much better with pencil and paper. As soon as I begin working digitally I can get a bit precious about an idea and sit with it longer than it deserves sometimes.

Once I’ve got a few ideas on paper that I’m feeling good about I move into Photoshop and draw using a digital drawing tablet. If the design is for a client I’ll refine the sketches digitally before sending them over to the client for them to approve one for me to develop. From there on out I work primarily in Photoshop sometimes with elements created in Adobe Illustrator and Indesign.

Another Round - rough sketch - Joe Boyd

Are there any film posters that you're either planning to, or keen to, create in the future? It might be a commission you’re currently working on, or just a film you’ve seen and loved recently which you’d love to create a poster for one day.

Off the back of the Supernova poster I’ve had a few independent filmmakers reach out about potential collaborations which is awesome. Hopefully some of those go ahead, I’d love to get to work on some independent film projects, especially more local ones!

We know Leeds has a great community of illustrators, artists and creatives – including at Duke Studios where you’re based. Could you tell us what role the city has played in your work and career in recent years?

Leeds is great for that, there's so much going on within the creative industries. I’ve been at Duke since I graduated from Leeds College of Art about 5 years ago. The owners, Laura and James, have done so much in terms of mentoring me on the business side of my work. It's also given me the chance to work with great people and companies who I’ve met through that hub. In the city's wider creative scene there's such a friendly, supportive vibe too and people setting up new projects all the time. It’s got that big energy while still feeling small and friendly which suits me nicely.

Another Round - final poster - Joe Boyd

Catch Another Round at Leeds City Varieties tonight (19:30) and Supernova  on Thursday 22nd July (19:30) as part of the Hyde Park's 'On The Road' off-site programme.