Wes Anderson’s graphic designer Erica Dorn explains The French Dispatch poster

Created by illustrator Javi Aznarez, the poster gives clues to the fictional magazine front covers he has made for the film, which is loosely inspired by The New Yorker.

12 February 2020


The moment Wes Anderson fans have (not so) patiently been waiting for has arrived, as the official poster and some stills (below) have been released from the forthcoming film The French Dispatch, with the trailer landing later today [UPDATE: trailer is out now, watch it below]. The entirely illustrated poster by Spanish creative Javi Aznarez not only portrays some of the film’s cast – including Timothée Chalamet in a bath with his hair wrapped in a towel, Benicio Del Toro painting and Owen Wilson sporting a beret – but also gives clues to the use of illustration in the film, which tells the story of a fictional magazine, apparently loosely based on The New Yorker. Graphic designer for the film, Erica Dorn, tells It’s Nice That more.

The French Dispatch is about a weekly magazine that started off as a series of columns in a Sunday supplement to an American newspaper, [called] the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun,” Dorn tells us, “and that has grown into a renowned publication, based in a fictional French city called Ennui-sur-Blasé. The stories in the film revolve around the editor-in-chief of the magazine and his beloved journalists.

Javi Aznarez came on board to take on the role of creating the cover artwork for all of the issues of the magazine that are featured in the film (and as a hand double for the actor who plays the illustrator),” she continues, “and when Wes decided that the poster should also look like one of the covers, of course it had to be Javi who did the illustrations.” On his Instagram, Aznarez revealed the poster, commenting it had been “an exhilarating year… topped with the final gift of drawing the poster,” and thanked Wes Anderson for “believing in [his] drawings”.

According to The New Yorker, Anderson has been a devotee of the magazine since he was a teenager, and has a vast collection of bound volumes dating back to the 1940s.

Serving a different purpose to the fictional magazine covers made for the film, the poster had to pack in far more detail. Though it does include the masthead details of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun – that it costs 200 Old Francs, for example – the film’s title is depicted in the style of the set’s signage, while the background illustration gives away snippets of the French scenery: people zipping on mopeds and sipping coffee outside cafes. It also reveals details of the film’s narratives, perhaps some of the dramatisations of the fictional magazine’s articles, with a man wielding a tommy gun out the back of a car, chased by police, and a surreptitious man in black carrying a briefcase.

“The movie has a really rich cast of characters and is really dense in terms of storytelling, so the poster also has a lot going on to reflect that. It's packed with tons of little references to the people and places that are in the film,” Dorn explains. “The flashbulb lettering is based on the signage we designed for the outside of the French Dispatch bureaux.”

The French Dispatch is out 24 July 2020. Watch Erica Dorn speak about her intricate design work for Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs at Nicer Tuesdays, here.

GalleryWes Anderson: The French Dispatch. Courtesy Searchlight Pictures.

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output.

Jenny is currently on maternity leave.

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