Tom “The Dude Designs” Hodge is a name you’re likely to recognize if you’re at all in touch with the world of modern movie art. His part flashy, part trashy mode of style harkens back to essential Grindhouse aesthetics, but also drips with a glaze of crisp design class that distinguishes his readily recognizable neo-retro style. Through amassing his impressive set of accolades from heavy hitting media outfits the world over, he’s been able to lend his talents to an array of artistic endeavors from movie posters to Blu-Ray and PS3 covers to car care packaging. The Dude seemingly does it all. But where does this unstoppable sort of inspiration all stem from? His upcoming book VHS Video Cover Art is apt to help answer that question, and in the process, display a most radical gallery of some of the most vibrant, arresting and downright awesome video cover artwork ever to grace UK rental shelves. Read on, my fellow Videovores, and get ready to turn your coffee table into veritable video cover viewing station…
A look at the amazing cover for VHS Video Cover Art. Just wait until to you open it, mang…
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your artistic career. Can you tell us how The Dude Designs began? What are some posters/ projects we might have seen that you’ve created? Some of your favorites?
Hey, well, I started my design career back in 1995 doing 2 years at college for graphic design, then another 3 years at University doing visual communication. Then I moved to London, UK and have been a professional designer since 2000. So, it wasn’t an overnight thing with me playing around a bit in Photoshop. I have been a jobbing designer paying my dues working in everything from corporate design agencies to Point of Sale store interior stuff. My final job was working for Sony PlayStation.
As with all general design jobs, though, I felt I wasn’t able to develop the creative side as much as I wanted. So I set up The Dude Designs back in 2009 as a platform to experiment with my design work in a more creative way aside from my full time design job I was doing at the time. It was mostly based around film and a way of combining my design work with my love of movies; I started designing flyers for film nights at a local cinema’s midnight movies night.
Then I started to rediscover what I truly loved about design in the first place with VHS Covers and began what I originally intended to be an art project creating mock VHS covers for films that I made up. As I got more into that project [and] experimenting, I developed my style more.
I did a few early covers for Arrow Video and then, did the Hobo with a Shotgun poster off my own back, sent it off to Jason Eisener and Rob Cottrell who loved it and the rest is history.
Hobo with a Shotgun is the poster most people [saw] as it got rolled out worldwide and every territory used that image which is quite rare as usually each territory can create their own DVD cover art.
Other ones people may know are The Innkeepers and Sacrament for Ti West. Paul Feig’s The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy… Also, with Wolfcop and lots of others. I also did re-release artwork for They Live and Savage Streets which people always seem to dig… maybe it’s because of Linda Blair’s breasts in that one! [ED NOTE: Doubly good point!]
My personal favorites are always a tough one… I don’t want to detract from any of the others. I do like The Innkeepers for its Classic vibe though.
You can see all my works on TheDudeDesigns.com
Probably one of the most recognized works from The Dude. And with reason, man! This poster is BITCHIN.
What was the inspiration to create this book? You must’ve had a love affair with these amazing slabs of analog for a while…
Ah, yes… some of the covers in the collection I have had since I was a kid back in 1982. I was a massive video addict growing up and we would get VHS covers off the local mobile video van man. I remember excitedly sorting through boxes of them with my cousin when we were younger.
The inspiration behind the book was a borne out of a mixture of things. Working in the industry creating classic poster art with The Dude Designs, I really wanted to highlight this amazing lost art form and all these amazing artists who rarely get mentioned. So I wanted to build a collection based purely on artistic merit. I have stacks of old poster art books, but no one has really celebrated the art of the VHS covers in the same way, focusing on the amazing illustrations and designs which adorned these boxes, so you can see the whole artwork as it was meant to be.
It’s a collection of artworks you have only really been able to see if your quite a hardcore video collector and also it’s all art commissioned originally for the UK so many of these amazing artworks will not have been seen in the US.
I hope it inspires a new generation of designers /illustrators and even marketing people to this amazing art form and even get people to look up some of these older illustrators again.
Some old-school exploitation flavor all over this one. Tasty, indeed, Duder.
So this is purely UK releases, then? Are they all harvested from your personal collection?
As I say this one is based purely on UK video art as it’s an area I know and grew up with. Also the UK had a very prolific VHS industry in the early 80s. There were more videocassette recorders per person than any other country in the world; more movies were seen on video than in the cinemas at the time. So it creates a rich history and catalog to build this collection from.
The majority The Dude Designs success is down to the support and interest I’ve garnered in America and Canada. So I wanted to introduce all this amazing fun film art to you folks in the US – Sharing the love and inspiration!
The covers are a mixture… around 45% of the covers are from my own collection, but most of mine are in the Horror section where it’s like 73% . It is less in the Comedy and Kids sections, which were actually the hardest genres to hunt down covers for. Most VHS collectors will stick to Horror or Action genres. So then I was able to visit two of the UKs biggest video collectors www.vivavhs.co.uk and www.videocollector.co.uk to plunder their hordes.
One of my personal favorite works from The Dude. Of course, we all know why.
Can you give us an idea of what to expect from the book? I know this is an image-driven publication, but is there also commentary from you on each cover, etc.?
Well, I created the whole thing. I designed the artwork for the book front cover to back. Often a book will get designed in-house by the publishers, but I felt as it has my name on the cover, so the design and visual aesthetic of it would reflect on me as much as how the content reads.
I built the collection then scanned it all (which took forever!). I then structured the book in a way that aims to recreate some of that classic Video Store experience with the layout, so it’s all organized by genre and alphabetized. You get your tape aisles for the title pages of each section which are broke down to your favorite genres of Action, Comedy, Horror, Kids, Sci-Fi and Thriller. Allowing you to easily locate your favorite film to rent!
I’ve really put this together with a borderline autistic obsession for showing and displaying the covers themselves. Something I feel will come across when you see these amazing covers displayed; I didn’t want to sanitize them in any way for the viewer and I’ve preserved every single paper fiber frayed edge, sticker and rental price tag.
I tried as much as possible to identify all the relevant artists. Sadly, some pieces were not signed or the signatures where extremely cryptic like “H”. So going off my existing knowledge of poster art and artists I was able to identify a few, then I filled in some blanks chatting with fellow Video obsessives like Martin Brooks and Kevin Hall who helped identify some of the more mystic signature runes.
I wrote an introduction, which discusses everything about the art of the video cover and some VHS history and my own personal video memoirs. I then didn’t want pages of small covers and lots of waffling text, that space that can be used for MORE and BIGGER covers!! So its money shot after money shot of total unadulterated complete VHS art glory!! [It allows] you to read the back of box texts on each cover (which is all part of the fun and experience).
Then, as a bonus actually, after I completed the book I got Mondo’s Justin Ishmael to kindly write a foreword discussing his love of VHS.
A sample page from VHS Video Cover Art! Oh, yes… this will be EXCELLENT.
What are the release specs? How many pages, size, etc.? This is a full-color hardback edition, correct?
It’s a big thick beauty, I tell ya!
12” x 9” (304mm x 228mm), full color, 264 pages with 246 VHS complete covers spanning featuring Action, Comedy, Horror, Kids, Sci-Fi and Thriller genres. with a lovely glossy hard cover!
A look at the book! Damn, man, just give me this thang, already!
What do you hope this book will offer to all the Tapeheads out there?
An amazing celebration of some of the best and obscure god damn VHS cover art you have ever seen – it’s a complete video collection in a book, man!
Also, it’s a collection of inspiring works of art, which will captivate the imagination, along with feelings of excitement and wonder… hopefully it will give a people a buzz like stepping back into your local video store once again.
Another sample page from Hodge’s upcoming Analog tome. Radical High-Flying Adventure Awaits, man! YES!
Why do you love the VHS format? What is it about the format that inspires you so?
Lots of factors, really. One is the physical product; you actually feel like you have something of substance with an old video cassette box in your hand; the tape itself looks like physical film. For a generation of people that grew up renting films on video there is still a little spark of magic in every case… you can feel the same buzz of excitement with one as you did when you where young.
Then there is the physical watching experience… watching an obscure film on video is an experience in itself. More so in an era of digital streaming, where you can browse through hundreds of films, watching 5 mins of each all not actually settling on one. Putting an old VHS tape makes the experience more of an event: from box to tape to VCR. You take the time to watch it rather than easily flicking over.
The collectable tapes are mostly the ex-rentals which you used to see in the video shops, instead of the retail versions you would buy at the supermarket and the like. So the tapes themselves have a history and most importantly they are the ones that the original box art as it was intended to be on them… So that’s essential! The astounding covers really make VHS special for me, though. As I mentioned previously, I still sit with the box in hand or on the coffee table next to me.
Each box cover is like a framed piece of artwork in its own right. Plus, they are a lot easier to display than posters if you live in a small flat!
Ultimately for me, back in the 80s and 90s, VHS and the video store WAS the movies, and the format created my love of all things pulp and trash, particularly horror… and yes VHS looks a bit shitty but it looks like my memories.
An inspirational and frightening cover for Tom. I mean, I agree with both, man. Just LOOK at it. This rules.
Okay, a tough one: which VHS cover do you think had the most impact on you, and why?
Ah, well, there’s lots… Return of the Living Dead had quite an impact by Graham Humphrey’s, who I have now actually became friends with through the poster work (I first met him at a screening of Hobo with a Shotgun). I tried to recreate it for my final year arts course at school and the ignorant art teacher failed me for it! THE PHILISTINE! [ED NOTE: Agreed! Absolutely Absurd!]
Another one of my favorite covers for Black Roses which I had in my collection as a kid and it scared the hell out of me. In my Mum’s loft there’s still a Halloween banner I painted of the monster from [that cover] when I was about 10.
And now for a fun one: Gim’me a list of your favorite movie munchies and what do you wash it down with?
I’m a massive burger addict so I can’t think of anything better than sitting down with a big juicy bacon and cheese burger, watching an obscure horror or action film and then washing it down with a nice dark porter ale!
Anything else you’d like to shout out to all the Videovores eyeballin’ this video-obsessed blog?
Enjoy and may your next hunt prove to be a bountiful beauty of score! The type you dream about!
I’ve had four sweet scores.:One was care of the “video collector” who sent me 3 boxes of amazing tapes one Christmas.
The second was a CraigsList find of boxes and boxes, complete with that buzz of eagerly sorting through them.
Then the third was when I was about to leave the dump and a car just caught my eye with a tape sticking out the back window; I jumped on the guy before he could get out of his car and asking if I could have the tapes he was throwing out. Man, I scored like five trash bags full of tapes with some awesome finds! Sadly, I did learn it was the last of three car load he had thrown out!!
Then the last one was when I got to raid an old video store with the original plastic video shelving which you used to get in the UK stores. I nearly killed myself carrying them back across London on one of the hottest days of the year (The lengths you will go to for some VHS love!). They are actually the shelves you can see photographed in the section pages of the book.
Also don’t try to sell moldy tapes on eBay!
Analog Amen to that, Dude! The Dude certainly knows his tapes, and you best bet your wood grain vintage top-loader that this collection of crazy awesome UK video covers is an absolute essential for every Tapehead and appreciator of amazing artwork alike! After reading through this interview, I think Tom’s VHSentiment and overall appreciation for the format resounds with the majority of magnetic maniacs out there in every capacity. And that’s pretty groovy, man. So, from one Videovore to another, groove on over to Amazon and pre-order your copy of Tom “The Dude Designs” Hodge’s beautiful and beastly bundle featuring nearly 250 of the greatest video covers in UK history. It drops on May 28th, 2015, Tapeheads. I just hope your coffee table can hold it, mang.