Fellow artists, co-workers, campaign employers, colleagues, fans, and friends share their memories of John Alvin…
Thirty years ago, John Alvin created one of the most memorable — and whimsical — illustrations ever to grace a Star Wars poster. In the years since, he has become one of the finest illustrators in his trade, flourishing in a field that is quickly becoming a lost art. We are so fortunate to count John’s talent among the treasures of the saga’s legacy, and will deeply miss him and the passion for Star Wars he so successfully expressed through his art.
I am still devastated by the news of John’s passing. He was not only a brilliant artist, but a superb human being, a loving husband, and a very proud father. I treasure our many phone calls and email exchanges, especially as John worked on the fantastic key art for Celebration IV, which to me embodies the spirit and emotional connection that we as fans have to Star Wars. And John was proud to be considered a fanboy — in fact, in a play on words, he’d often sign his emails “Artboy.” As talented and as well-established a painter as he was — with well over 100 movie posters to his credit ranging from E.T. to Bladerunner — John was always thinking about the next project and the one after that. He had already started talking about a 30th Anniversary poster for The Empire Strikes Back and promised to do a special Obi-Wan Kenobi painting for me. I’m sad that we’ll never get to see those paintings, but John’s body of work — Star Wars and otherwise — will be with us forever as a lasting monument to his artistic genius.
I was looking in the mirror this morning and saw the face of a man that had just lost his best friend. Beyond the mirror, the memory of my friend beckoned me to see more, and to do it through the magic of his eyes. His vision broadened mine, and invited me to see what he left me even though it was no longer in plain view… What John left me had been firmly lodged in my heart and I could access it at any time I wished… it consisted of compassion, consideration, love of family, commitment to my friends, and devotion to my art.. John was magical, mystical and practical. My life is enriched for having known him for 31 years.
There are few people in this world that I have ever gotten so excited to meet that I just didn’t know what to say; John was one of them. John’s art has inspired me since I was a kid. I must have drawn the E.T. fingers a million times. I finally met John and his wife Andrea this past summer at Star Wars Celebration IV in Los Angeles. I was honored already to share the stage with John, but to meet him was just incredible to me. In true John Alvin style, John honored me by searching me out to meet me and take a look at my art work. John was genuinely excited to see my painting and studied it for at least 30 minutes as we talked. I kept thinking, “wait, this is supposed to be the other way around”. The more I spoke with John over the weekend the more I realized that that was the kind of guy he was. He loved art, and never let celebrity get to his head. he made me feel like a million bucks:) But the thing I will remember most about meeting John and Andrea was the gargantuan amount of positive energy and kindness they directed towards My Denise and I during a very difficult time in our lives. There are no words to describe how much their love lifted us, and how much it meant.
It goes without saying that John’s art is legendary. His contributions to art, and his influence on artists world wide is immeasurable. But to me, John’s greatest legacy will be his grace and spirit. John represents everything that I have ever wanted to be as an artist and a person. Technically John’s talents not only worked their way into just about every medium invented, He also mastered it. Spiritually, John possessed that unique connection to his art that very few artists experience in their careers. His passion for art showed through every emotion he illustrated. As a professional, I cannot think of an artist that defines the word more. As friend and Mentor, he was genuine, warm and giving.
I only knew John for a short while, but I will never forget his openness, and willingness to pass on so much wisdom. I will fondly remember our conversation about music, art, life, and the art biz.
John, I want to thank for being John Alvin. You inspired me, mentored me, and I am honored to say you were my friend. I will miss you.
I could go on and on about how much John’s cinematic visions have inspired me since I was a kid, but I’m sure I’m not alone, and this site does an incredible job representing the plethora of art he has contributed to pop culture. Instead, I’d like to share the personal side of John- memories that will live with me forever.
I first met John and his lovely wife Andrea about 15 years ago at a Science Fiction convention in Pasadena, California. I was an aspiring artist, and, well, John was a living legend. I was toting around my student portfolio, and even though most hollywood artists were short and secretive about sharing any information to help artists “break in”, I figured I’d give John a shot…
Imagine my shock- of all the people who had a right to be too busy and above helping the little guy, John dropped everything to look at my work, give me pointers, and even give me advice on places I should go and pursue work! John was the furthest thing from selfish and treated me as if I was a good friend.
Years went by, and since we were both going to be part of the STAR WARS CELEBRATION 4 show in Los Angeles, John actually contacted me early this year to let me know he was an admirer of my art. Again- I was in shock to hear from this legend. I shared my story of first meeting him 15 years before. He didn’t remember the occasion, but was glad that he left such an impression on me.
After that, an amazing thing happened in my life. I became friends with John Alvin. And when I say friends, I mean calling each other on the phone once a week, chatting for hours at a time while doing yard work. We also started critiquing art for each other. He actually was very instrumental in giving me tips on many of the posters I did this year. Even more flattering, John would send me early bird looks at his art the public hadn’t seen yet! Of course, John had the raw end of the deal, as I had no criticisms to offer the master.
It breaks my heart that the year I became close friends with John would be the last one, but his memory lives on. What an incredible down-to-earth gentleman.
And of course, what an incredible legacy of art he has given to us all.
I had an opportunity to meet and talk to John at Celebration 4 in Los Angeles this year and he was just a lovely, beautiful guy. I mean, He was just so excited about art. The style I have is so much different then what he does and he looked at my work and said some wonderful thing to me about what I’m doing and gave me some great advice. We passed a few emails back and forth since C4, but the few times we spoke face to face at C4 will last with me a lifetime. He told me some great stories, he explained his process to me. I mean, he made me feel like a peer as opposed to a guy who has only been at this for a very short time. My wife Terri actually was over at his table more then me and he had her bring me over to meet him.
I’m honored to have met him and to have gotten a chance to talk to him the way I did. He will be missed.
Our deepest sympathies to his Family and Friends,
Tom & Terri Hodges
John was a huge inspiration my whole life. To me, growing up there were four ICONIC movie poster artists: Bob Peak, Richard Amsel, Drew Struzen, and John Alvin. I have been a fan of his work all my life and particularly of his iconic usage of hands in his posters. You see this in evidence in his E.T., Gremlins, Aladdin, Alien, Blade Runner, Legend posters. But it was his composition and color that always grabbed me by the throat…and that slickness that dominated eighties poster art, different than Amsel or Struzen. There was a theatricality to his work that set it apart and a subtlety that was surprising when it surfaced. Could the same man who did the Blazing Saddles poster be the one who created The Color Purple? I was inspired by his work when I began my Star Wars Celebration IV print for last year’s convention, where I finally met him. Trying to make an homage to the first Star Wars film is daunting, since so many images have been done and they are almost all montages. I was thinking of various images and designs and John’s Blade Runner was in my mind with Darth Vader standing in for Deckard and similar rays of light behind his head. It wasn’t a direct copy, it wasn’t a parody–but his influence, along with a lifetime of Star Wars art was there.
The night before the show, as some of us were setting up, John was walking around looking at the work of the mostly younger guys in the show. He was more than gracious and very kind–and full of encouragement for all us “kids”. He got a big kick out of my small pseudo-tribute to him in my print and took it as the compliment I meant it as. Throughout the show, I kept bumping into him either at his booth or as he escaped into the artists alley usually with more encouragement and a laugh. It was a great, but long five-day show. As he was making his final pass through the convention, he gave me a pat on the back and a handshake and told me once again to keep it up and that it was “good stuff”.
How often does one of your heroes tell you that?
I only met him at the one show, but I am so grateful to have met him in person. To have spent some time with him and Drew Struzan at the same show was incredible. To be accepted as a peer was astounding.
Thank you for all your support and inspiration, John.
I miss you already.
I’ve known John Alvin for many years and worked with him on many film projects. In all of my experiences, John was a gentleman, a consummate professional and an amazing talent. I am deeply saddened at his passing and extend my condolences to his family.
When I saw the news posted over on TheForce.net about the passing of Mr. Alvin, a sudden wave of sadness swept over me. My wife and I have been huge fans of Mr. Alvin’s various Star Wars art pieces, and his tragic death is a giant loss to the entire Star Wars community. Some of his art pieces adorn the walls in our Star Wars room in our house, and it goes without saying that those art pieces are some of the most cherished pieces in our entire collection.
His artistic contributions to that galaxy far, far away that we all love & adore will be sorely missed.
My deepest condolences to the entire Alvin family. Mr. Alvin and his family will be in our hearts & prayers.
My wife and I met Mr. Alvin for the first time at Star Wars Celebration IV in May of 2007. We will never forget how gracious and generous he was with his time. We bought a copy of his Star Wars 30th Anniversary giclee, which has since been framed and is proudly on display in the living room of our home. Our ten month old son absolutely loves looking at this piece. We like to hold him at eye level to it and point out the names of the different characters – He is mesmerized every single time. We think it is truly a great testament to the beauty of Mr. Alvin’s work.
Our thoughts and prayers go out his family and friends.
Jim and Amy Metzendorf
I’m incredibly sorry to hear of Mr. Alvin’s passing. I am a huge admirer of his work and his amazing paintings for Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings has been and will continue to be a true inspiration to me. The official Star Wars poster artwork he created for Celebration IV in L.A. was jaw-dropping, just simply beautiful. I can only imagine the many fantastic scenes he still had yet to create. I wish I would have known him personally. Anybody with that much tremendous talent must have had a really great personality to go with it. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Dear Family and Fans,
I am a mother. I am someone who was constantly pulled away from art and entertainment by demands. I was dependent on others to tackle me with the glorious stuff that couldn’t be ignored. Star Wars was one of those magnificent pieces of entertainment not to be ignored.
The characters, the fantasies and the technology grabbed us and fired us into a world we loved to be in. John Alvin managed to stand in the heart of these films and this world. He rendered all of this for us. His art pieces put us eye to eye with myths and our own wish to star in the power and hope of this new world. His work let us take a piece even further than the films into our homes and our children. His work let us be children and collectors of what stirs us.
Contrasted to all of this powerful and chic art was John, a man who never lost sight of the value of family and friends. He was someone who sought out the simplicity and meaning in loving those he cared about very deeply; of communicating with those he loved.
It is impossible to say which will be missed more, the artist or the man.
Very sad to hear about John’s passing, just seeing the artwork he produced transports me back to my childhood and makes me very happy.
Rest In Peace.
I’ve been a fan of John Alvin for many, many years. I finally got the chance to meet him a few years ago at the San Diego Comic Con. What a thrill! He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met! I spoke with him for over an hour, and it was if we had been best friends our whole lives. That’s John Alvin! He was impressed that I knew so much about his work, and told me he had regretted not signing his artwork over the years, as other poster artists had. I told him that he shouldn’t worry, because anybody who collects and admires movie posters knows his name. He smiled that big smile of his and simply said “Thank You.” I’m so happy that over the last few years, he was able to sign his fantastic artwork, and I know he was happy to do so. It’s a sad time for all of us, but we have our memories, and all of his wonderful artwork.
Thanks for everything John, your one of a kind, and will be remembered for the great man you were.
What John Alvin is to me. I never met Mr. Alvin but from the second I saw his art I became a fan of his work. His art carries his personality and brillance which is why I treasure every one of his works of art. He is what I inspire to be an artist with amazing talent and the kindest of hearts. I knew him through our mutual friend Leslie Combemale from ArtInsights animation and film art gallery who sold me a few of his works. I ask her one day to give him a message from me complimenting him for his outstanding work and he wrote this me ” To Luis – I am so glad that my work inspires you. you should know that people like yourself are what inspires me. it’s like the legend of Harry Potter : It’s Perfect Magic. Best Wishes ! Alvin ” That simple message touched my heart, it opened a world of understanding to me: art is not just a painting that hangs on a wall to decorate a room or museum. It’s a work of one’s hands that capture an instant or emotion and a gift to everyone that beholds it. To his family I would like to say I am sorry for your lost He was a priceless treasure that nothing in this world can replace. For those of us touched by him or his work we have all lost a dear friend today.
I’m a fan of John Alvin’s and I would like to thank you for giving people a space to voice their thoughts on his work and life. Though I never met him, he was truly inspirational, and I am sad to hear of his passing.
I have written my own small memorial to John on my personal website, and I would be honored if you could add it to the list of wonderful thoughts that have already been shared: Remembering John Alvin
Thank you again for making this possible, and please do send my condolences to his family.
I’m in shock as I write this. I first met John when he spoke to my high school Radio-TV-Film class, I think I was the only one in the class who actually recognized him, but by the time he was done with his presentation everyone realized that his work was a part of their lives.
I feel so fortunate to have gotten to know John as well as I did, even though we were never really close. He really had a profound impact on my life. We all know that his art is amazing, but one of my fondest memories of him was watching him play his Martin guitar… it was his confidence as an artist, and his stories about the beginnings of his career, that gave me the confidence to pursue a music degree and follow my dreams. While my career in music never panned out, the inspiration that John gave me has impacted every decision I’ve made in my life since… I know that I would not be the man that I am today without those few months that I knew John in my high-school years, there’s not a day that’s gone by since that I haven’t thought of him.
The world has lost one of its brightest stars… I couldn’t have imagined the last time I saw John, some thirteen years ago, that I would never have the opportunity to see him again. I can’t imagine ever feeling the promise of a great experience again now that he’s gone.
Goodbye John. May the Force be with you… always.
I met John at Celebration IV last summer. I was trying to find a nice souvenir. John is a really friendly guy. The poster of Luke on Tatooine now hangs in our house. I’m sorry John left us.
It was a heavy heart that I read about John’s passing on Friday. As the creator of many of the most iconic images from my movie-going youth, he was a constant inspiration to me, and it really feels like an era has died alongside him. I was lucky enough to meet him at Celebration 4 last year as he signed my poster, and he was remarkably generous with his time. We chatted for a short while, and he struck me as a warm and humorous man. His artwork for that event is possibly one of his greatest pieces, and is a truly fitting memorial to his talent, vision and emotion. He will be missed.
We just discovered John Alvin and his art last October in the Chuck Jones Gallery in Santa Fe. Following our purchase of the incredible Blade Runner piece, we were invited to meet John at the Gallery in November. The two days we got to spend attending a lecture by John, and meeting with he and Andrea were incredible. John and Andrea treated us like we were long lost cousins, catching up on old times, and sharing tales of family and friends. John’s love for Andrea and Farah was so obvious. He beamed when speaking of their accomplishments and their contributions to his art. Although we only spent a few hours with him, we feel like we’ve lost a very close friend. Our hearts go out to Andrea, Farah, and all who knew him.
Tony and Judy Wiese
I just wanted to write to say how sorry I was to hear of the sudden passing of John Alvin. John was an exceptionally gifted artist whose beautiful work, especially those amazing pieces he did for old and modern movie classics like BLADE RUNNER and STAR WARS, will continue to be treasured by movie and art fans for decades to come.
Both he and his talent will be much missed and the world is a worse off place without the joy he brought to people across the world with his warm personality and his wonderful, inspiring work.
From myself, my editorial team, and the readers of STAR WARS AFICIONADO fan magazine, we offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends.
STAR WARS AFICIONADO MAGAZINE
My name is Dick Wolfson. I was priviledged to have John come into my life in 1970 when I met him thru my sister who was dating Andrea’s brother.
John’s artistic abilities are well known to all of us. His work always captured the spirit and ethos of whatever movie he was working on. His work is iconic to say the least.
But what many people didn’t know about John was that he was one of the kindest, warmest and funniest people to be around. John never lost the child like enthusiasm of toys and such. He was one of the few of my contemporaries I know of that knew where the local hobby shop was. Once upon a time, John and Andrea were kind enough to invite my 2 sons into their studio. Their patience with them is still remembered today by my wife and I. My boys still proudly display John’s work in their rooms to this day.
I think the most important thing a person can do in this life is to leave the place a little better because of their life’s work. Certainly that can be said of John. He made a difference thru his art. And to the people who were blessed to actually know him, we have all lost one of the nicest, kindest guys I knew. His work will live on for a long long time. One can not imagine Blazing Saddles, Batman, Blade Runner or the myriad of projects he created the lead art for with any other but John’s interpretation of the main subject.
Both my wife, my sons and myself wish to extend our most heartfelf condolences to Andrea and Farah and fervently hope that someday they might be able to find some measure of tranquility.
I was so sad to learn of this great artist’s passing. I met him briefly on the first day of Celebration IV and he was so kind and happy to meet fans and sign the poster he designed. He was a gracious and talented man and I’m sure he’ll be mourned by all who have been touched by his art and his generosity.
Dick and Randi Wolfson
I first met John years ago at a lecture he was putting on at the local Learning Tree. I was a young art student and I thought I would bring along my portfolio just hoping I could get a quick 5 minute portfolio review by one of the legends of American illustration. After the lecture I approached John and asked if he would take a moment to look at my work. To my surprise he asked if I would come by his home the following day where he could take his time to properly go over my work. The next day I showed up at his home where I met his wife Andrea, an accomplished artist herself. We all sat at the kitchen table and reviewed my portfolio. John took his time commenting on every piece giving me tips on where to improve. I was amazed that someone of John’s stature in the industry would take so much time and thought to review a perfect strangers work, but that’s just the type of person John was. After reviewing the portfolio came the icing on the cake. John asked if I would like to see his studio! Of course I did, we went up stairs to his studio where he showed me sketches, comprehensives, original paintings and projects he was in the middle of month’s before the public would see it. He let me into a very private part of his life and shared the inner workings with me.
Over the years John would become a mentor and friend. At Star Wars Celebration IV it was an honor to be among John and to take part in the event along side him. While there John and I would speak and as always John passed along his wisdom and love of the art. The final day of the con, at closing John signed the Celebration IV poster for me and we spoke, shook hand’s said goodbye and he gave me a pat on the shoulder. Little did I know this would be the last time I would see him. It’s a moment I will always remember.
John was an inspiration, a mentor, an icon and a friend. John’s work will continue to inspire generations of artists to come. Sadly they will not know his warmth, his generosity or his friendship. But the magic of John will live on in the magic of his work and those that knew him.
I first met John Alvin through his art.
Growing up with and devouring everything having to do with the Fantastic Cinema explosion of the late ’70s and ’80s, movie posters were an obsession of mine. My room was covered in them, wall-to-wall and top-to-bottom. Many weekends, I would take an early morning 3 hour bus ride from my childhood home in La Crescenta, California to Hollywood, where I would stare through the display window at Eric Caiden’s Hollywood Book & Poster Company, eagerly waiting for the store to open. I would then essentially just hand over my allowance savings and leave with as many amazing new one-sheets as I could. I still remember the smell of fresh ink on that glossy paper stock. These were the days before the Internet or DVD, before fans really knew who was behind the creation of these incredible works of pop art. I would sometimes see the name “Amsel” clearly visible on a poster. The name “Hildebrandt” had taken me to a galaxy far, far away. I eventually deciphered the name “Peak” on others. There was the occasional “Jung.” And, of course, then came the prolific “Drew.” But back in those days, it was almost impossible for the common fan to learn more about the artists behind these names. All I knew was that they became like old friends over time, and not just as seals of approval for geek décor…but as unique, individual visions that held both spectacular promise for adventures coming soon, and that kept those exploits alive in my imagination in the years that followed. But there was one artist whose name eluded me.
The biggest hit and the biggest flop of the sensational Summer of 1982 shared something in common: Both films had fantastic posters. The first was simple and iconic. The second was splashy and retro. I kept asking friends if they knew which artists created the poster art for “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” and “Blade Runner.” There was no obvious signature to be found on either and the styles were so disparate, I figured there were even more talented artists at work than the few I had already managed to identify. Then I finally saw “Blade Runner” for the first time on opening day, June 25th, 1982, at the Mann Hollywood Theater. The film shook me to the core. It forced me to reconsider what I thought I liked about movies. And it transported me to another time and place in such a brutally realistic way that I felt both assaulted and mesmerized by its power and vision. I later found myself back at home, staring at my “Blade Runner” one-sheet, trying to re-immerse myself in that world. I dwelled upon every inch of that poster, particularly its bottom half, which was largely dedicated to the future world of Los Angeles, 2019. And amongst the details of retrofit buildings and collision lights, I noticed a tiny little something I hadn’t spotted before. The name “Alvin.”
The name had been carefully tucked away on the corner of a building to the right of the police station. Like the film itself, the poster held secrets and details not readily apparent on first viewing. So then I thoroughly scrutinized my “E.T.” one-sheet, and sure enough, hidden in the horizon amongst the clouds and atmosphere of Earth, in a very quiet, subdued manner, there was the name of that poster’s creator…“Alvin.” As such, it almost seemed in the years that followed that the release of a John Alvin poster was more an occasion to celebrate the film and its poster art and, strangely, less an occasion to celebrate the artist himself. Whereas many amazingly talented artists developed such unmistakable signature styles of their own, John was more of a crafty chameleon. His varied work usually served the needs of the film, and not necessarily his own…which is, of course, exactly the nature of the job. And it was probably that lack of ego in his artwork that infused his posters with such an innate sense of awe and wonder…placing you as a lone explorer about to enter a vast and magical universe. But then I met the man himself.
I wouldn’t say that John embodied the exact opposite of what his seemingly selfless work represented. But he wasn’t shy. Or quiet. Or low key. The man loved wearing red shoes, after all. Although I had met John a few times at various conventions over the years, it wasn’t until last year when I truly got to spend a little quality time with him and his wife Andrea at their cozy home in beautiful upstate New York. The occasion of my visit was to interview John for the “Blade Runner” Ultimate Collector’s Edition I was producing. Specifically, we were creating a featurette titled “Promoting Dystopia,” devoted entirely to the development, creation and legacy of the poster art he and Drew Struzan created separately for the film. The John Alvin I had met at conventions many years earlier was a straightforward, polite man who kindly signed autographs and enthusiastically thanked you for your interest in his work. The John Alvin who warmly greeted my crew and I in front of his house was a proud, assured fellow who loved to talk, gossip and hold court. He didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would bury his tiny, humble signature in the subtle details of an otherwise majestic piece of promotional movie art. But when you look at his work, such as his breathtaking art for “Empire of the Sun,” or his spectacular 10th Anniversary poster for “Star Wars,” you see the recurring image of a hero hidden in silhouette, standing boldly against an epic horizon of conflict or mystery far larger than himself and this duality finally starts to make more sense. Before, during and after our interview, John always surprised me. He seemed fiercely competitive but never dismissive of others. He was incredibly proud of his art but never came across as self-important. He bemoaned the rise of soulless Photoshop art but he still admired that software as a tool that he often used himself. In other words, he was endlessly passionate about his craft. When the time came to eventually leave his home, John followed us out to our cars, and stood there waving us off until the surrounding woods obscured us from view. My crew and I left there considering the Two John Alvins. The humble, working artist and the colorful, confident man. But now I realize that there really was only one John Alvin. The one who loved his life and his family above all…and fortunately for the rest of us, the one who loved movies. So thank you, John, for chasing those horizons.
Charles de Lauzirika
Hello – I’ve been selling Movie memorabilia since 1977 yet until I visited this site that was posted on Mopo news group , I must admit I failed to recognize the body of work John has done up till now.. when I viewed the site I saw that many of the posters i’ve admired for years were done by John Alvin. I feel as though I missed a great person that I wish I could only let know when he was here, how much I liked his posters. Yet heres what should tell you how much i liked his work, I have no posters on display in my home but one that Ive had years and never knew the artist. Its a film usherette that I only saw today on your site, So after all the years it is the only poster I carried through several moves , and since I have 1000s of posters ( many of the titles he has done in my inventory as I speak, and I will view them entirely different now. It almost seems like a very special tribute to John as I didnt even know whose art it was. ( I was familier with Bladerunner) After viewing the Art he has done, I am embarraced that I did not know his work better. My favorite artists also include Drew Struzan, Amsel, Peak, amd I put Alvin right there with that group. My very best to family and friends this will be a great loss in Cinema and for all. I am so glad to hear of people he inspired and will continue to. A great great artist. Thanks John!
I was very saddened to see today in the LA Times, that an old friend and schoolmate has passed away-
I knew John back in the Art Center days (third street LA ) as we were both illustration majors. John was always so talented and smart. But I especially remember him for for his love of music- (he patiently taught me a guitar riff from Crosby Stills & Nash- which I subsequently taught to my son & daughter, telling them about my friend They still play it ) We would jam together occasionally, a much needed break from the pressure of Art Center’s 24/7 curriculum. He was a wonderful singer, as is Andrea- also a talented musician, artist and designer. Together they were one of the first, (and only ) married couple that I knew. They befriended me in some dark & crazy times in the early years of my career. Thank you Andrea- you were a stable, kind force- My thoughts are with you and your talented daughter-
aka mother of 3,
Asia 24 designer
Jason 22 composer
Josh 11 kid
Married to Mitch Dobrowner
a fine art photographer
It was with great shock and sadness that we heard of the untimely death of John Alvin, truly a genius in his art and one of the more gentle human beings that we have had the good fortune to meet. It was during the Star Wars convention IV in Los Angeles that we had an opportunity to meet Mr. Alvin and his incredible staff. He spent a generous amount of time with us and took that time to get to know us and meet our dog and pose for pictures. Of course we purchased one of his limited prints but the value of that cannot be weighed against getting to know such a wonderful sharing and caring personality as John.
We count ourselves lucky and blessed that we had that opportunity to be graced by his genius and wonderful sense of humor and love of life and what he does. Truly the world will not be the same as we have lost one of the finest artists and warmest individuals who has graced our lives. We know that he is amongst the Stars and now has an eternal canvass onto which place his mark.
With our fondest memories and wishes to the staff and family of John Alvin, his friends and fans,
Bob Palaikis and Jacob Gray
My friends and I went to high school with John and Andrea’s daughter. We remember him as very warm and kind and it was obvious how much he loved and cared for his family. Both of us have lost our Fathers and can still only begin to imagine what they are going though in this very difficult time. We will have Farah and Andrea in our thoughts and prayers …
Sharon Schein Campbell & Family
Jill Landeros (Felder) & Family
Sorry to hear of the sudden passing away of John.
He may have gone physically but will be with all film and art fans all over the world in mind and spirit.
His great work will be a lasting legacy. As a film fan with no artistic skill I very much admire anyone who has this great ability to combine their passion for art and the greatest mass media of the last 100 years – film.
How very sad,
We were so sorry to hear the terrible news this morning. Athena and I met John and Andrea only briefly at Celebration (courtesy of his good friend Stan Stice) but John was so easy to like, instantaneously. He was our kind of person, genuine, warm, friendly and obviously immensely talented.
We were looking forward to getting to know him (and his family) much better, and beyond excited about seeing his book come together, (not to mention his potential collaboration with Ralph).
Please extend our deepest sympathy and warmest wishes to Andrea and Farah.
Paul Bateman (& Athena xxx)
(Ralph McQuarrie’s London buddies)
I made contact with John to have him work with me on the Coca-Cola Happiness Factory posters last year. The conversations we had over those two weeks were inspirational. How can so much pleasure come from a simple call? We could not come together on this project due to timing issues. The experience was great all the same!
What to say? John was on the top of my wish list of people to work with – if only there was more time.
There is never more time that what we are gifted. I did not know John at all but the impression that will stay alive in this world after his leaving is that he made very good use of that gift.
Love to his family and friends.
He’ll always be around.
Producer W+K Amsterdam
First let me extend my deepest sympathies to John’s family, friends and loved ones on your loss. It is so very difficult to lose someone so suddenly and at such a young age.
I met and knew John through our work together in movie marketing. I most remember working with John on a project called “Hook” many years ago and always had many fond memories of him and that project. John was hired to create treasure maps that were used in the production of a teaser and a trailer for the film.
John’s excitement and enthusiasm for this project was very contagious and he brought so much energy and creativity to the process. It was easy to see why he was such a great artist because he loved what he did so much. His sense of humor came across in his signature on the artwork : John Alvin & Associates. Fine cartography since 1991.
We will all miss him very much.
My son and I met Jon for the first time at Comic-con in 2006 and again at Celebration IV in 2007. My son was 9 the last time we spoke to Jon and he had very encouraging words for him. My son is a talented artist for his age and looked forward to seeing Jon at shows and asking him questions about his artwork. Jon was extremely nice and really engaged my son creatively. When we read the news of Jon’s passing, my son expressed to me how fortunate he felt to have had a chance to meet him. We feel so privileged to have had the chance to meet the man behind such inspiring art.
Jon will always be a part of are memories. His family is in our prayers.
The Hellard Family
I contacted John in early January, requesting some insight for my high school art project. Pursuing the insight of such an acclaimed and talented artist, I had little confidence that I would get any sort of reply. To my surprise, the reply was within an hour and John was very happy to help me with my project. I sent him some questions that I thought would give me proper insight, as well as a picture of my collection of his, and as soon as I gave him a week deadline, he replied with pages of responses that were personal, intellectual and incredibly thought-provoking. John was tremendously generous to me and no matter what kind of mark I earned on the art project, I learned things I would have never bothered to explore about “art”. I’m incredibly grateful John! The Disney posters that encompass my collection will always remind me of the talented and inspiring man you are!
Jon Note: Ryan also sent John’s responses to his questions which I placed here.
In this era of self-creating images, virtual shades and transparent layers, flashfloods of untouchable and invisible color palettes made of numerical sequences, the real hand posing on the surface of a real paper or canvas seems to be more and more the unreal memory of a distant and fairy age of creative wanders, when the time and the wisdom of fingers were the only true mentors of the artist’s craftmanship. The Alvin’s hand was one of those magical tools the new softwares will never be able to emulate since they will never let us know the hieratic scent of the glazing matter and the greasy delicacy of the blending colors. Alvin’s style was a unique hybrid between the photorealistic temper of a Vermeer van Delft and the captivating iconic attitude of Frank Frazetta. His movie posters were the poignant statements of an ancient master who absorbed the aura of the cinematic language in order to render it in the atemporary life of the static visions. Even though I never met Alvin, I can say I knew him better than I know the people who surrond me in my daily life, as each of his creations revealed me the intimate and majestic honesty of the skilled creator who was always faithful to the purity of his art. His artworks are only apparently posters or illustrations: they were handmade lenses Alvin creates for us to let us watch a neverending still-movie that only the zoetrope of our imagination can see moving. It’s a movie that we will watch again and again, ’cause the Vision of a single man belongs to the atavic memory of every man.
(painter, writer, moviemaker)
Sangro Valley – Italy
When I was pretty young, my mom finally found the Beauty and the Beast silhouette film poster that I had been looking for. She gave it to me for Christmas. I keep it, and other film posters of his artwork that I’ve found, locked in a safe until I can find a proper place for them. I’m am so sorry to hear of John’s passing. He is an incredible artist and I only wish I could afford his work. I was just down in Florida at Downtown Disney at the Art of Disney, and they were selling some of his artwork. I kept going back there to just stare at each and every single one. The feelings evoked from noticing every little part of each of his paintings brought about memories from my childhood and…just makes one feel so good. I’m sorry he will not be able to create these wonderful works of art, but he will be remembered for his incredible talents.
I’m also an illustrator living in Rhinebeck, NY and I’ve been reading a lot about John since his terrible, untimely death. I never had the good fortune to meet him, but I wanted to thank you for your part in creating John’s website and for your lovely remembrance. It must be wonderful for those who knew and loved John to have the site as a place to read about him and visit his world.
Hearing of John’s passing was terrible news and very sad. I just briefly met John last summer at Celebration LA. Only a few minutes of talking but I could tell he was very genuine. Ive recently joined the Lucasfilm family as an artist and had hoped to run into him again in the future and get to know him better. He was an amazingly talented artist and I am a great admirer of his catalog of work. He helped carve the path that I am currently traveling on in the illustration field, and I can only hope to stay as true to my craft as he did throughout the years. It was an honor to meet him and I was happy to have had the chance to tell him how much his work inspired me as an artist. I only wish he had not of left us so soon… My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Shortly after leaving CalArts and getting my first job in animation I ran across one of John’s posters in a magazine and I worked up the nerve to call him and introduce myself. John was working for an agency at the time producing all those great movie posters and he actually took my call.
I showed John my portfolio of what now I realize was just awful art and he could not have been more encouraging. I got to know his wife and daughter over the years living in Los Angeles and as you all know they are great people. I will miss John, and our long phone calls talking life, and art.
As I look over John’s paintings and sketches, I keep thinking: “Oh, that gives me an idea, I should tell John and see if he’d be interested in creating it!”…then I remember.
John was a phenominal artist who could capture the heart of a movie in an image, and yet he was the most joyous soul I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. No matter what he was doing, what I remember most during the brief period I knew him was, he always smiled. Though his legacy is unmistakable, his absence leaves an emptiness. The world has lost a consummate artist, and I have lost a friend.
To Andrea and his family, you have my thoughts and deepest condolences.
Alvin is one of the Artist that made me become the artist i am today. His work had a lot of impact on my designs for the movie industry. His work influences made me become an Award winning Designer myself.
This is a Big loss for all Movie loving Artists Around The world.
He will live forever through his Art.
Alvin Thank you for everything
A Big Fan from the other side of the Ocean.
Michael van Randeraat
Leslie Note: this speaks to what a guy John was…his dry cleaner sent us a note…
I am so sorry for your loss. Although I was not close to John, I quickly became to admire him years ago. I at the time was working at the local dry cleaner in Rhinebeck and he would come in with his shirts, and he was just the nicest person to talk to. Anyway I just wanted to pass on my condolences to his family. Once again my deepest sympathy.
Please send your thoughts to Leslie to be included here.