Studio Visits

Illustrator Josh Cochran Taps into His Dark Side

Criterion Designs — Jan 22, 2020

Bursting with life, Brooklyn-based artist Josh Cochran’s work has a way of drawing you in—and rewarding your attention. About a decade and a half ago, Cochran—who grew up in Taiwan and attended art school in California, and was deeply influenced along the way by Tintin comics and graphic designers like Seymour Chwast and Milton Glaser—took his first editorial job as an illustrator, for the New York Times Book Review, and he hasn’t looked back since, amassing a portfolio of dynamic, eye-catching, and often boldly colorful work. His projects have run the gamut from mural work to Grammy-nominated album packaging (for Ben Kweller’s Go Fly a Kite) to his very own children’s book (Inside Out: New York). The energy of his line having duly impressed our art department, the Criterion Collection was excited to join his list of clients, as he undertook to create striking covers for our editions of John Huston’s Wise Blood and Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave—two very dark films that allowed him to depart from the exuberance of his typical style and subject matter.

Last year, we paid a visit to Cochran in his studio, in a former Heinz factory in Brooklyn, and he let us tag along to watch his progress on a mural at the New York Transit Museum, where the sprawling, vibrant cast of city characters he painted continues to grace the walls as a permanent exhibition. And in addition to seeing the calm, captivated way that Cochran wields his brush, we learned a little more about his process on those two Criterion covers. For the Wise Blood assignment, the longtime cinephile Cochran sought to capture the intensity of this film, focusing in on star Brad Dourif’s light-blue eyes, thrown into relief against a yellow background. To hear how our release of the black-comic crime film Shallow Grave wound up with a photographic cover, closely modeled on Cochran’s original sketches of tools ominously arranged on a pegboard, watch to the end of the video above.

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