At Mondo Gallery's new exhibit, In Progress, the original sketches and drawings of the artwork company's famous film posters (as seen in the halls of the Alamo Drafthouse) will be on display for the first time.
We have an exclusive preview of artist Kevin Tong's Bride of Frankenstein, and we talked to Tong about his technique, inspiration and what's coming next. The exhibit opens Friday, January 25 at 7 p.m. and will be on display until February 23. The Mondo Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
CultureMap: How did you first conceptualize what you wanted to do?
Kevin Tong: It’s all such a blur, you know, because once I’m done I just start thinking about the next thing. That one was really tricky. For one thing, there’s not a whole lot to go on. Because even though the movie is called The Bride of Frankenstein, it’s really about the monster and she’s only for like seven minutes I think. But you can’t do a Bride of Frankenstein poster without showing the female monster.
I decided to offer something different. Most of the time you see her up close — there’s that iconic image of her eyes really wide open. I decided to pull back and show the body. And she’s wearing that cloth that’s not very interesting, so I thought, what if I made it a little sexual? I wanted to show the dark side of that movie and show her cut up like that.
CM: How did you physically go about making the poster? Did you use your normal technique or did you take different approach?
KT: This one was slightly different approach. I usually draw things and use the computer to clean them up and color them. This one I wanted to feel organic, so I did a pencil drawing — because pencil gives you loose, natural-looking textures, instead of using a computer and or using a pen to ink it.
This involved making a massive 30-by-40 drawing (the poster is 24-by-36 inches). I wanted the line work to be nice and tight so that when you reduce it, it looks tighter than it really is, but at the same time being, loose, wooly and natural looking. I don’t usually work that big. I usually work on many pieces of paper and piece it together. This one was done on one giant sheet of paper.
CM: So it was all in one go?
KT: Well, I did piece it together a little: The bride is one drawing and the heart is another drawing. The curtain and the lettering was done on the computer. I chose to do those on the computer because I wanted the organic elements and inorganic elements to stand out from each other.
CM: Looking at the other posters in the exhibit, they all seem to have an intimate relationship with the artist that designed them. You can sort of tell they have a vested interest, a sort of special relationship with the movies they’ve made posters for. You captured an intimacy and a sadness to the movie. Because it’s kind of sad ending. Are there any moments, images, thoughts or feelings that informed how you decided to approach it?
KT: I put the tagline at the bottom of the poster. Pretorius says that. What I thought was interesting was that he was talking about the future him and Dr. Frakenstein were going to have: gods and monsters.
For me, what that line resonates in the end is that in the end, [director] James Whale humanizes the monster and he stops being a monster and becomes a god and starts choosing who’s going to live and die. “We deserve to die. You go.”
CM: What are you working on right now? Anything coming out soon?
KT: I’m doing a bunch of things for Mondo. I’m working on a beer label for a startup brewery in Los Angeles. There’s other stuff, but I can’t really say.