Many Bond fans are familiar with the art of Jeff Marshall — from his terrific James Bond lithographs to 007 item packaging like the Corgi collectable boxes. What Bond fan may not know is that you may actually have seen his work in other places besides the Bond world (check out some examples in CBn’s Jeff Marshall Gallery).
Now CBn brings you a chance to know more about the mysterious artist behind the canvas.
Could you tell us a little about your artistic background?
I graduated in 1981 from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. I have been in in advertising from that time and have enjoyed every minute of it. Today, I am a Senior Vice President, Creative Director at DePersico Creative Group outside Philadelphia, PA. I direct the overall creative product at DePersico. It is my responsibility to ensure that all work is strategically on target, brand consistency is adhered to, and brand awareness is continually increased.
I have worked at Depersico for over 17 years. I have been Creative Director since 1998. Prior to coming to DePersico, I worked at Sulpizio Design in Philadelphia and The MCS Group in Media, PA where I honed my creative skills on food and non-food accounts such as Melitta Coffee, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Merck, and Smith-Kline Beecham. I have been very lucky and won creative awards including Art Directors Club of Philadelphia, The Paperboard packaging Council, Print magazine and Philly Gold Awards. I combine my love of baseball and art to create custom illustrations of many players on the Philadelphia Phillies team past and present. Of course, my James Bond work holds a most sacred place in my heart.
What inspired you to begin creating 007 lithographs?
It might be the posters from the late 80’s Bond films. After Licence To Kill, I had nothing to lose. All joking aside, I love movies and movie posters. That combined with my over the top mania for the Bond films was something that was just bound to happen.
What media(s) do you use?
Pencil, Watercolor, Mac!
What are some of the things you do or think about regarding Bond before you start to work?
For any project I try and research it first. I find a comfortable place to start to doodle and create. My work with films, T.V. and individual star portraits becomes very personal, something I want to see. Something that comes from inside out. A visual place that touches an emotion. The Connery films are emotionally different for me from the Moore, Lazenby and Dalton movies. My first films where with Connery. When I picture his image as Bond, I still hear the Barry music, I feel the explosions and remember all the hours spent with my Father in the theater, both of us enjoying the hell out of all of it. I’m not disrespecting the other films or actors. Every film is filled with classic moments and very fond memories.
Run us through you process of creating one of your posters?
Sketch, sketch, sketch! Sit and stare like a zombie. With any piece of art,there is a unique beat. My job was always to find an alternate visual appeal for fans, so that they could connect, get to that happy place. As I sketch and get comfortable I start to pick on individual images and render away. They don’t always work and I have thrown away so much more than I
have ever put on paper, but the process is electric. When I get comfortable with some of my art, I scan and start to build in the computer. This gives me the ability to edit, colorize and create multiple variations of what was in my mind initially.
While working on a James Bond piece, are their any special 007 rituals you do?
Oh my yes! The assigned film, soundtrack is always on in the background. Lots of stills and reference. (never enough reference!) The making of documentaries are always inspiring. The films where blessed with so many great creative minds that had an amazing collaborative synergy to make things happen. That is real inspiration.
Having done so many Bond posters now, do you find yourself constrained by your original format?
I think the only boundaries are with deadlines, lack of reference and of course talent. I fantasize about Donald Smolen back in the day, setting up photo shoots of the various stars for his illustrators reference. Visiting a location during a shoot. No wonder the early campaigns where so imaginative and breathtaking. The illustrator, art director was a very integral part of the overall taste and feel of the movie experience. My job was different in that I did not have to sell the film, the lithos are a tribute to the film and the person that holds a certain title or era dear.
Is there a certain Bond actor that is easier to create the pieces for more than others?
Connery, he is an amazing looking man. What carries over into his film performances is seen in any reference I have of him. He projects and creates the character of Bond like no other. I really enjoy all the other actors, but I guess my first images of Bond are of the Connery Bonds, it is a very personal feeling. I do love Pierce as Bond as well. The few attempts I have made of Pierce have turned out well. He just works for me. From his Remington Steele days, I imagined him as Bond. Very handsome with this amazing under coating of honesty and approachability.
Do you find your art suits a particular era of the Bond films or do you think it works equally well for the entire series?
I have my favorite lithos from each era. I like the Dalton lithos as much as the From Russia With Love litho. Not all of them have been gems, but that’s what keeps me going. A big criticism of the films is that they have not changed that much over all of the decades. The formula is set and that is it. Well to me, that makes each adventure timeless, and with that in mind, this first series of illustrations seem to work no matter what year the original film was created.
It seems the 007 Femme Fatales receive more attention in your pieces. Is this something you do consciously, is it a product of inspiration or is there another reason?
I think the ladies are such a big part of the films identity that they have to be in the forefront. Maybe it’s me, but showing them off a little, brings me back to when the films where a little sexier.
Are there any specific pieces that you favor more over others?
From Russia With Love, Diamonds Are Forever, A View To A Kill, and Licence To Kill.
Of course I’m very fond of The Spy Who Loved Me litho because of the Roger Moore, UNICEF connection. I remember the first time when Lee Pfieffer told me about the possibility of that union, so exciting. It was a very special experience.
What’s the story behind the Special Edition Casino Royale video art?
The Casino Royale DVD was another great SpyGuise project. Lee and Ron wanted to re-release the successful video they had created a few years back with the addition of a Barry Nelson interview and a few other goodies.
Personally, It was a ton of fun doing a 50’s retro design (floating heads and all). It would have been great hearing what Nelson had to say about the production and some of the other aspects of his long career. I was lucky enough to have met him and I hope that someday, those interviews get out so we can share in this little piece of history.
I once saw a spec poster you did that featured Pierce’s Bond in grey tux and a parachute in freefall? When did you do this, and is there a story behind it?
It was one of those things when I had a little down time I wanted to see a Bondian moment recreated in poster form. I always thought Brosnan driving the motorbike off the side of a mountain-chasing a plane would have been a blast of a teaser poster for GoldenEye. Brosnan in Q’s mini jet boat
from The World is Not Enough would have been fun too. I still love all those great 60’s posters.
Do you have any future plans to create posters for the Brosnan films? Or now the Daniel Craig Film(s)?
I always had several GoldenEye pieces of art. I did one for my son Christian’s room a few years back. Pierce is just so darn handsome, he makes a great subject. As far as Daniel Craig goes, I’m excited to see if the series can approached from a slightly different direction. He has some great features to take advantage of. I wish him and the entire production the best of luck. I’ll be sketching him when I have some down time.
Are your posters licensed by Eon? If not, how do you deal with copyright issues?
All of the posters that SpyGuise sells are licensed and part of the ‘James Bond Official Limited Edition Lithograph Collection.’
Many fans would like you to do the official poster or DVD cover for the Bond series, from your point of view how likely do you think that dream is?
That is very kind. I’m always happy to hear that the art has been well received. An artist needs an audience to create with, it is a very special bond. As far as me doing any future Bond work other than personal. The likely hood is probably not. I do art for friends and charity work now. I’m currently involved with a group who is raising money for Ovarian Cancer.
Are their any Bond related projects that you’ve just finished and/or are currently working on?
Nothing new on the horizon, but never say never. It might be a good time to thank everyone for their support and interest in the artwork. When I had my website up, I communicated with so many fans of the art that became friends. They would often share there first experiences with the Bond films, who was their favorite 007 and of course a certain amount of bashing of various films. I also have not mentioned the men behind the James Bond Lithos. Lee Pfieffer and Ron Plesnarski did all the leg work in the early stages with Eon and promoted the heck out of the lithos during their run. They are a great team filled with many exciting and unique visions. SpyGuise really sets the standard for the spy collector and memorabilia enthusiast.
If someone is interested in purchasing your art work how can they go about doing so?
They can reach me via my daytime e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will answer all requests and questions regarding my illustration work.