Saturday, June 4
Interview with legendary artist Enzo Sciotti and musical tribute podcast.
Enzo Sciotti was born with a natural talent and passion for drawing. With a fascination for cinema, he applied for a position in a movie poster design studio at the young age of 16 and was immediately hired. For the next 15 years he worked for many film graphic studios and became one of the most well-known and recognized artists in his field. In his career he has created about 3,000 movie posters.
Sciotti graciously welcomed me to his extraordinary art-filled studio outside of Rome in February of 2016. We conducted an email interview in the months afterwards.
bunnywhiskers: Does artistic talent run in your family?
Enzo Sciotti: Yes, we have been artists for seven generations, five of which were painters. My father was a well established painter and decorator of churches. I would certainly have continued his path if I didn’t lose him when I was five. Fate had already chosen for me another direction – the poster artist one – which was perhaps more of a fit for me given my natural ability to pick up resemblances. When I was only five I was already drawing all the time, doing portraits of my mother and brother.
bw: Being a natural at art, I wondered if you had any schooling for it? Do you work with live models at all?
ES: I did six months of school for poster making and then immediately started working at Studio Battaglia, a movie poster art studio, in Rome. I work with models just for portraits and everything else is done with photographs or from imagination.
bw: What artists have inspired you?
ES: When I started in 1960, there were more than 20 poster artists and three poster art studios in Rome. One of them, Studio Battaglia, is where I worked with Ezio Tarantelli, Renzo Cenci and six more graphic designers. The painters that inspired me were: Ciriello, Geleng, De Seta, Cessellon, Simeoni, Casaro, Putzon, Nano, Olivetti, Giuliano ed Enzo Nistri, and Maro. On top of that, we were all getting inspired by the poster art coming from the US.
bw: The ’60s and ’70s were a golden age for Italian cult films and you’ve done film posters for many iconic cult movies. Were you aware that you were part of something extraordinary at the time you were creating them?
ES: Not at all! We didn’t consider these gigs a big deal, otherwise I would have saved all those pieces, more than 3,000 between cinema, VHS and editorial. Back then I didn’t give any credit to my work. To me they were insignificant posters and movies. Whenever one was done I was immediately thinking of the next one. I would have never imagined that one day they would be considered so valuable.
bw: How were you given direction as to what to create for your film posters?
ES: They didn’t specify anything. They would tell me the title and the plot and I had to come up with everything. I would prepare three sketches and from there it was decided which one would be used. Sometimes, I would start painting on the selected drawing and I would suddenly have a better idea that I thought would be more effective. So I’d change everything and paint according to my intuition without telling the production. I would deliver the final poster and nobody ever noticed! When I gave them the final they would always give me so many compliments and were very happy with it. Nobody ever realized that they actually approved an entirely different sketch!
bw: Were you often given film titles and plots that were difficult to come up with art for?
ES: A lot of times! The photographic material was often insignificant and the title as well, making it very hard to find a valid idea to commercialize it. But I have to admit, most of the time I managed to make it work.
bw: Did you have much contact with the filmmakers and actors of the films you did artwork for?
ES: Very rarely did the directors or actors take part in my process. I would usually speak with the office chief and the very last okay was from the producer. I’ve had directors telling me what they wanted the poster to look like, but I always ended up doing what I personally liked the best. A few actors would call me to tell me to put their face prominently in a poster. One time our best actress, Sophia Loren, called me. I was working on one of her movies, Aurora, and she wanted to make sure that I put her son in the poster.
bw: What do you consider your favorites of your film posters?
ES: My favorites are the ones from the ’80s because they were created within the society (Studio E2) I founded with my good friend Ezio Tarantelli and I was finally working for myself. In that period, I also started working for foreign clients from Germany, England, France, Switzerland, Scandinavia, etc.
In the ’80s and ’90s I definitely created some of my favorite works! I like all the ones for Medusa Communication and Cannon. For Italian clients, I like all the Fulci horror movies and the sexy Italian style comedies. In particular, I like the artwork I did for Mystere, Le Bal, The Sicilian, Paradise, Madame Sousatzka, Maximum Overdrive, Army of Darkness, Fandango, Paganini Horror, Quest for Fire, O Re, The Rogues, and Two Evil Eyes.
bw: Do you have a favorite film genre to do art for?
ES: Really all of them, with a preference for horror, sexy Italian comedy, and action.
bw: How did you get into doing comics?
ES: I didn’t find comics, they found me. Anyway, cinema was my big passion. In fact, I quit doing comics a few years later. I was always late with the deadlines even though I was working 16 hours a day, weekends and holidays included, and with the support of two other colleagues helping me finish the work.
bw: You are very active on social media. Were you surprised to find that you had such a massive and devoted fan base that wanted to communicate with you?
ES: I was very surprised to find out. I would have never believed that I had so many fans. I thought my work was quite anonymous and insignificant. Instead there is a big community of admirers. I am extremely gratified by this and I am always happy to interact with my fans and answer their questions.
bw: What are projects you working on now?
ES: I recently finished a draft for a German client. I am also currently finishing my personal book. I’ve been working on it for a long time.
bw: What sort of art do you work on for fun?
ES: Even in my free time I am constantly drawing. What I like the most is portraits (one day I will do yours as well), female nudes (the real miracle of this planet!) and some landscapes.
bw: What advice would you give to a young aspiring artist?
ES: Work a lot and every day. All the obstacles of this profession get smoother with time. We are all like computers. We accumulate and store information inside.
Enzo Sciotti Website – http://www.enzosciotti.com/
Enzo Sciotti Appreciation Society – https://www.facebook.com/groups/105941076104170/
Enzo Sciotti Tribute Podcast
Music from films Sciotti has done artwork for including Bloody Birthday, Army of Darkness, Blue Velvet, The Slave of the Cannibal God, Phenomena, Cat in the Brain, Antropophagus, The Beyond, Cujo, Morirai A Mezzanotte, Beyond the Door, Prom Night, Demons, House by the Cemetary, Slaughter Hotel, Rosso Sangue, A Blade in the Dark, La Legge Violenta, The Sword of the Barbarians and many, many more!