WOW! Tom Hodge aka The Dude Designs on GEEKCITING?! I must be dreaming. One of the forerunners in the recent revival of artistic horror movie posters Tom Hodge is responsible for the incredibly gorgeous looking film posters of Hobo With A Shotgun, Father’s Day, WolfCop and many more. The bastard even made me buy A Cadaver Christmas and Madison County… two movies I ended up giving zero fucks about… two Blu-rays I bought because Tom Hodge had done the art on them. The guy is a genius I’m telling you… a genius!
Ladies & gentlemen, ghouls & ghoulettes: Tom Hodge aka The Dude Designs.
GEEKCITING!: Hi and thanks for taking the time!
GC!: What was creatively speaking the most exhausting piece you had to work on in your already hugely impressive career?
Tom Hodge: Ha well, they all have their challenges to a certain degree. I wouldn’t say any were a stroll in the park. I always aim to provide something different and probably put more pressure on myself to deliver more than before. It’s a difficult job as there is no set formula so you can’t rest on your laurels so to speak. You can’t just create a pretty picture. Each title is different and has its own unique selling point, which you need to draw out and find a way to visually pitch to the audience. So as well as designing the visual you need to be able to rationalise it to the client and then manage the project, not let too many cooks spoil the broth. Sometimes you do get crazy requests from producers trying to merge two or more designs into one which would end up looking like a car crash and a project can easily run away if you don’t get everyone on board.
GC!: As an accomplished artist what do you look for when skipping through the different orders you get? What makes you accept or refuse a certain demand?
TH: It’s a full-time job and I work to set rates so most of the time I won’t turn down a job if I’m available. Unless they have no time to produce it in and unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved in a day. Which does happen. It’s crazy how many times it gets left to the last minute. Possibly because people are used to the crappy hacked up photo DVD cover art of the late 90s/00s which could be turned around in an hour but you get what you pay for. If a project did turn into a worst case scenario cluster fuck, I would pull the plug or do the whole Alan Smithee thing. I’d like to think I have a high level of quality control and won’t produce crap. That’s why I would like to think people come to me. I know about a lot of indie films I’ve worked on which have been signed up for distribution on the strength of the key art alone.
GC!: What decisive moment made you realize that you had finally achieved your goals, that you finally made it and were living your boy dream at the fullest?
TH: Ha, er… Well I don’t think I’m there just yet. I still have many goals and many side-projects I want to get off the ground. It’s not easy being self-employed doing this type of work. My passion for film and being creative is the one rock I hold onto which gets me through tough times. It has equal bouts of frustration and creative fulfilment.
GC!: What working techniques are you most comfortable utilizing on a daily basis?
TH: I work all digitally, painting on a tablet in Photoshop for my artwork. I have a background in design working in the industry for 15 odd years so being digital was a natural progression with the work for me. I do mix in some physical media particularly for title treatments where its a brush script style font. I’ll usually paint that by hand and scan it in to get the desired effect. But for the actual image I have my own technique which I’ve refined over time. I don’t like my paintings to have that smooth finish you usually get with digital art so I’ve customised brushes etc. to get the end finish to be more rough-edged which you do get with the physical media.
GC!: What or who was the kickstart that made you choose this creative way over another probably more secure career path?
TH: I was working for Sony PlayStation and getting a bit frustrated with the creative side to the work feeling it was branching more into art working than designing. It was actually then when I rediscovered my love of VHS video covers and the art that first inspired me to get into design in the first place so I started to create a series of old video cover designs as a sort of experiment art project. As it developed the art went down more of an illustrative route to really capture that essence of what made these video covers so great. Then life started imitating art and I got commissioned to do covers for actual films. As the work developed I ended up working for Sony during the day and doing the posters at night. After a while I chose to jump ship and make The Dude Designs a full-time thing.
GC!: What single piece of work of yours are you most proud of?
TH: I love all the posters and video covers equally. Each job is tailored to an individual film with a specific artwork which best communicates the traits of that title and sell it to the audience. Get them excited and thrilled like the old VHS and film posters used to.
GC!: May will see the release of VHS: Video Cover Art, a book curated by you and published by Schiffer Publishing. What can our readers expect from said book?
TH: Well I have browsed through thousands of tapes in my own collection and also gained access to two of the UK’s biggest video collectors Video Collector and Viva VHS to give me quite a wide selection of titles. I wanted to display pure VHS artworks so imagery that was only commissioned specifically for the VHS release. I see many top 10 video cover lists but they always contain poster artwork for Friday the 13th etc., but that’s not video cover art in my mind. That’s just cropped poster art from the cinema releases which I felt wouldn’t show people anything new. I then also chose the less mainstream titles which would have gone straight to video in most areas (grindhouse cinemas aside). I was quite purist about it. My aim was to highlight these amazing covers and the artists behind them so I made the selection purely on artistic merit. When putting the book together I wanted to give the reader the total VHS video shop visual experience. It contains over 240 amazing complete video sleeves in a mixture of genres from action, comedy, horror, kids, sci-fi and thriller. It depicts a world of moustached muscled men, buxom beauties, big explosions, phallic guns and nightmare inducing monsters.
GC!: What piece are you currently working on and what can our readers expect to see from you in the near future?
TH: Due to the nature of this work I can’t really discuss current titles I’m working on until the actual artworks are released so I will have to stay tight-lipped there.
What an awesome person to talk to, what a fucking amazing artist! Make sure to check out Tom’s official site for all kinds of awesome art and don’t forget to order your copy of VHS: Video Cover Art that will be released on May 28th. I have already pre-ordered mine.