My Heart Will Go On

MAKING MY TITANIC MOVIE POSTER


I was fascinated by the history of Titanic for a while before the film came out. Summer of 1997, before I began 8th grade I remember nerding out with my sister’s friend about how excited we were that a Titanic movie was being made. When December 23 rolled around, I went to see it with my family. I was immediately obsessed. For Christmas my parents gave me several Titanic themed books and I spent the holiday on the couch happily poring through them (and watching Growing Pains reruns featuring young Leo on TV). I was absolutely blown away by the beautifully realistic nautical illustrations in painter Ken Marschall’s giant book, "Titanic--An Illustrated History". I admire his work tremendously and for my own Titanic poster I knew I had to pay direct homage to his masterful images. I referenced three of his paintings in my piece.


Back in 1997/98, I was a couple of years into seriously drawing, and Titanic became a go-to subject for my artistic pursuits. This of course focused mostly around fan girling for Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s face I ended up drawing and redrawing dozens of times as I learned. Titanic the movie came along at the very right time, to the very right teenage girl. Creating my own illustrated poster has been 23 years in the making.


For my movie posters, I’ve been relying heavily on direct reference images since I work in a realistic style. I scour the Internet for movie stills and photos of the actors, and take my own screen shots and then compile them. I love puzzling out how to visually unify disparate sources and translate them into my own hand. But relying directly on photos is actually something I hope to move beyond as I push into a more stylized approach that’s more in line with my non-poster illustration work. In this case, I knew that what I really wanted from this project was to create a poster my teenage self would have wanted, which meant: realism!


I began this poster on August 31st of last year. My mom had been in the hospital for over a month at that point, initially for septic shock. It was a difficult time and I knew I needed to give myself the ultimate passion project to keep my mind occupied. (Also, a project that might make my mom proud. She knew how much I love this movie, and she did too). She remained in the hospital until her death on October 30th. I got to see her a few times before things turned for the worse and then twice before she died but she wasn’t conscious. I am still working through my grief and trauma of losing my mom in such a painful way. I’ve been working at a much slower pace than usual. I didn’t let myself work on anything else because I had to fulfill this promise first.


I’ve been so grateful to have this project so close to my heart. It’s kept me going through the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. It feels good to have done this for myself, and I’m looking forward to starting other projects where I can experiment with different styles and processes.