Wednesday, April 12, 2017


"I got $350 for that. Silly isn't it?" Joseph "Joe" Smith said about this poster art that was used by United Artists for the American release of John Wyndham's film adaptation of THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS. Smith coined the phrase "related harmony" to describe the color theme he worked into his scenes. He used fungus green for his depiction of the invasion of Triffidus celestus.

Smith signed that illustrations that he was most proud of and satisfied with. This one he signed.

The Day of the Triffids (Allied Artists, 1962). Joseph Smith Original Movie Poster Art (22" X 27.25").
Illustrator Joe Smith (born 1912) began his career in the movie poster business by working in the animation department at Walt Disney Studios. His first work was developing sketches and concepts for Bambi, Fantasia and Pinocchio. By 1949, he joined Universal's publicity and advertising unit and worked for seven years as a layout man before finally going freelance. Once he was on his own, the studios were all vying for his skills at poster concepts and finished work. He did the campaigns for It Came From Outer Space, The Mole People, Blood of the Vampire and several of the Hammer films including Horror of Dracula and The Mummy. By 1962, he was at the peak of his career and given some of the best assignments of the time. This was when Allied Artists brought him The Day of the Triffids. Based on a novel by John Wyndham, the story dealt with the events after Earth experiences a meteor shower. People have gone blind after witnessing the event and the meteors leave spores behind that soon develop into the Triffids. These were basically plants that were able to uproot themselves, walk, had stingers in their "tails" and could possibly communicate between themselves telepathically. When Smith was given the job of creating the concept art, he was given some stills to use as his inspiration. Smith later stated, "The few stills they sent made the monsters look like big rubber mats." Typically, once Smith had completed his concepts in charcoal, he would do a full illustration in a day or two. One of Smith's trademarks is what he referred to as "related harmony" which was his version of a color scheme in his work. In this case he used the dominate green of the Triffids "plants" and harmonized it with blacks and grays and used it throughout the painting and even into the figures of the Triffids' victims. After examining this original artwork, it appears to be painted in gouache. There are some very minor water stains along the edges and some minor chipping in the top layer of the white area-- also around the edges. The interior art is very clean and the colors are bright! This artwork was used in all of the US posters. In a typical Joe Smith aside, he stated about this painting, "I got $350 for that. Silly isn't it?" That may be, but Smith was proud of the work since he worked his name into the bottom of the art. Smith only signed the works that he was proudest of. And as we all know, this is regarded as one of THE iconic images of 1960s sci-fi poster art! Very Fine+ on Illustration/Chip Board.


Dr. Theda said...

We like the Triffids... read the novel at age 14 and even crafted a Triffid "action figure" back then... A great mid-week to you and yours, good Sir

John said...

Love the movie. Have a copy of the book, but have yet to read it!


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