Selected film posters

Akiko Stehrenberger talks about her critically acclaimed film poster work.

I fell into making movie posters in 2004 when I returned to Los Angeles after working as a freelance editorial illustrator in New York for four years. After interviewing with agency Crew Creative for free­lance illustration work, one of the owners and creative directors, Charles Reimers, saw potential in me as a designer and gave me my start in the industry. Being a painter himself, he some­how foresaw how I could apply my illustration knowledge to movie poster design. He was the first of the creative directors I would have the pleasure of working with, that would embrace what I could bring differently to
the table.

Now a freelance art director, I am hired by agencies that are hired by movie studios. Various designs are created and presented for each project, and sometimes from many competing agencies. When a poster is finally chosen (called a ‘finish’), unfortu­nately it has very little to do with it being the best of the bunch, but sometimes more with what the movie studio feels will fill a cinema. I have my fair share of illustrated and non-illustrated finishes and have worked on all types of films. Although each project brings new challenges, my heart is definitely in the projects where the advertising is willing to take more risks, which tend to be independent films.

I am most proud of my first three illustrated finishes: Funny Games, Life During Wartime, and Surfwise.

Here is a collection of some of my favourite illus­trated pieces. Some became official posters, some came close and some didn’t see the light of day after the first round. Regardless, I am honored for the interest in my work and look forward to creating many more posters for movies.

Akiko Stehrenberger

Akiko Stehrenberger graduated as an illustration major from the Art Center College of Design in 2000. Upon graduation she moved to New York where
she began illustrating for such publications as SPIN, The Source, FILTER, New York Press, and more, before moving back to Los Angeles in 2004.

While still maintaining a steady flow of freelance illustration work, she then began designing for the movie poster advertising industry. Her digital illustration for Funny Games (slide 2) received a lot of press, including taking both number one spots on The Auteurs Movie Posters of the Decade list, and the Australian Stale Popcorn Top 50 Posters of the Decade. Her recent poster for Life During Wartime (slide 4) garnered a lot of press as well, earning Stehrenberger the headline ‘Poster Girl’ in an interview for Interview magazine. See more of her work at

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