My Uncle passed away a few months back. (Don't worry, this post won’t be dark - he lived a long and awesome life!) The reason I bring this up is because my Uncle Tommy had a brief stint as a New York actor back in the late 60s and early 70s. During that time, he did a ton of plays but also managed to wrangle up some juicy bit roles in films like Rosemary's Baby and Midnight Cowboy. Re-watching these films and witnessing a young Thomas Irwin, inspired me to whip up a tribute print. I've always been a huge fan of the artwork for Rosemary's Baby, so I wasn’t about to touch that one. But I did feel Midnight Cowboy could use a little love, and decided that was the way to go.
I knew I wanted to focus on deconstructing and recomposing the iconic portrait of Voight and Hoffman posing on a cold New York day. Featuring this odd couple was key, the original key art was right on about that. After all, Midnight Cowboy does such an amazing job of crafting a strange and beautiful tale of the unlikely friendship of Joe Buck and Ratso. I also knew the artwork would grayscale, because not only are the publicity images black and white, I also felt it wouldn’t fit the tone of the film if I added in too much color.
Where I thought I may be able to enhance or improve upon the original design came with the introduction of the New York Skyline. To me, the city is almost as important as the two main characters and is far from just a backdrop of the story. The city itself is a crucial element in the tone and grittiness of the film.
In early sketches for the print, I had the skyline running through the middle of the pair, but as I began the design phase, I realized the city was getting lost. Plus it felt wrong to divide Joe and Ratso using the city that brought them together. After some experimenting, I decided to grow the city out from opposite sides of the characters, and that did the trick.
The original key art used a sans-serif font for the title treatment, so to stay true to the time period and to keep the focus primarily of the centerpiece, I utilized two weights of Gentleman, 1000 Black and 300 Extra light. From hairline to black, this 10-weight font family was designed by Juraj Christina and is a gorgeous and elegant choice for screen applications and print media. It’s available for purchase MyFonts.