January 20, 2018
Art, politics, angels, demons . . . and righteous dogs.

The Master

Wonderful to work with John Dixon of the Village Voice.  Oceans of illustration under the bridge there but really great to pick up on a new vibe with John, whose work on Voice covers have been a recent inspiration.

This was for the film The Master by Paul Thomas Anderson, signature director of Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love, Magnolia etc. This film, from my pre-release info, was based on  a Hubbard-like leader of a Scientology-like cult, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. So the sense we were shooting for was a dominant figure using others and feeding off their energy.

My idea was to have the Hoffman character pop off of the screen and begin to grab Anderson in a darkened movie theater.


John wanted to play with ideas focusing on the director.

Here he is considering a confrontation between Hoffman and the spirit of Hubbard.


In this he is inside Hubbard’s head.


Finally John and editors returned to my original take. It’s great when your interpretation is seen as as good as or even preferable to the preconceived one of the editorial staff. I believe that we, as artists, are called in, not just for our ability to craft images, but to consult on the best interpretation of an idea. That is, I feel, a huge part of our job. Many thanks for the great collaboration with some new friends in an old hangout.

PS: Finally saw the film last night. The image, it turns out, was, of the three, the most appropriate to the movie. However, I was surprised to find that the film was really about the Joaquin Phoenix character. The Hoffman character is a symbol and kind of a 2D creation. Phoenix, however, is flesh and blood every minute. He gives and all-out, high-risk, opened vein, Actor’s Studio type portayal (channeling Montgomery Clift in my opinion) that will win him, if not an Oscar, a lot of Oscar-buzz. Not that this matters. It is a performance not to be missed.