2021 marks 40 years since the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark and the debut of Indiana Jones, the character who has helped redefine adventure movies. To mark this occasion, ACME Archives has collaborated with Lucasfilm to release three limited-edition fine art lithographs celebrating the first three films in the continuing series.
Artist Devin Schoeffler Talks Cinema’s Favorite Archaeologist
Having previously worked with Star Wars, artist Devin Schoeffler has also had a lifelong admiration for the man with the hat and the whip. He discussed his creative process and the legacy of the Indiana Jones series with us here at Lucasfilm.
Do you remember your first viewing of an Indiana Jones film? If so, what impression did it make?
When I was nine my parents took me to see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in theaters. Sean Connery was one of my mom’s favorite actors and I remember she was excited to go see the latest installment. For weeks after I remember running around the backyard brandishing a whip I had made out of an old electrical cord.
Did your previous work with Star Wars influence your approach to this Indiana Jones artwork in any way?
The Star Wars series influenced me in that I wanted to do something that was visually quite different than the Star Wars pieces [laughs]! I knew I wanted something that was really bold and striking so I settled on using the bright orange and red flames as the background and carried that unified look throughout this Indiana Jones series.
How does the color palette of the Indiana Jones series reflect its core themes? How does this palette inspire you?
The color palette was inspired straight from the classic Indiana Jones logo with the bright red-to-orange gradient. When I first started toying with ideas for this piece, I had initially begun with this old world map texture for the background which carried over to the dusty brown and tan colors used for the characters and objects.
What artistic techniques did you use? How does your choice of technique relate to your chosen style?
I used a variety of different techniques when I created the artwork. I relied heavily on referencing still frames straight from the films and tweaked them quite a bit using photo editing software before I started the illustration process. I even used a bit of 3D modelling to recreate the knight’s cross from The Last Crusade when I couldn’t find perfect photo reference.
Can you discuss the design process for each poster? How did you choose each of the primary images?
I usually start by creating a loose sketch for each piece while re-watching each film, from there I’m able to pin down a basic composition. After that I combine photos and stills from the movies using photo-editing software. This allows me to easily move and position objects and even play around with some visual styling techniques and colors before I focus on a specific direction. After that, I pull the image onto my tablet and start actually illustrating the piece.
Was any one of the posters the most challenging, and if so, why?
The Last Crusade was probably the most difficult to do. I struggled trying to pin down an iconic object from the film that could serve as the base for the piece. Originally, I was focused on using an image of the holy grail but it just wasn’t coming out as dynamic as I wanted. This is why re-watching the films is so helpful, after seeing the knight’s crest pop up in multiple scenes, I knew it would give me a strong symbol to tie back to the movie.
Do you have a personal favorite of these paintings, and if so, why?
I like the Temple of Doom piece. I was really happy with the way the skull came out.
Do you have a favorite line of Indy’s dialogue in the film series?
“Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?”
Other than Indy himself, do you have a favorite character in the series, and if so, why? Do you have a favorite line of dialogue from that character?
Henry Jones Sr., for sure. He and Indy had so many good exchanges during The Last Crusade. I think my favorite line of his was “I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne…let my armies be the rocks and the trees and the birds in the sky!”
In the process of creating these works, did you learn anything new or surprising about the films?
There were apparently a lot of nods to Star Wars throughout Temple of Doom, like the nightclub in the opening scene named ‘Club Obi-Wan’. It was fun to go back through and try to catch all those references.
As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Raiders of the Lost Ark and the entire Indy franchise, could summarize what these films mean to you as a fan and an artist?
Indiana Jones is the epitome of adventure cinema. There’s just a magical quality to these movies that attracts so many artists and inspires us. I am very excited and grateful to be contributing to these monumental classics and I hope the pieces I’ve created capture that same magical sense of adventure.