Yesterday’s art is today’s vintage

By Rhonda Dredge

Back in the early days of the cinema, talented commercial artists were employed to design and paint posters to create just the right emotional appeal for a movie.

Spencer Tracey might have appeared in an heroic pose in the foreground with a villain on a distant hill.

A love interest might have been at his side, clinging to his arm.

The theatrics of the interpersonal drama were part and parcel of the advertising campaign. Emotions such as fear and love were big.

Now, the vintage craft of billboard painting is being resurrected at prominent sites around the CBD to advertise new releases.

The stars these days have different names but the sentiment is the same. People love emotion and it’s the job of painter Tayla Broekman to convey it. 

She and her co-worker are painting a billboard at the entrance to the Queen Vic Centre in Swanston St for a new romance Five Feet Apart.

At her side is a palette, 12 of the colours pre-mixed by her to simulate the skin tones of stars Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Spouse who play Will and Stella in the movie. 

Tayla begins with a pale hue for the inside of Stella’s forearm then paints a mid-tone down the centre, followed by a shade at the outer edge. The colours are then blended to create the illusion of form. Some small sections are more painterly, showing off the power of paint to simulate mood. 

Will and Stella are two terminally-ill patients who fall in love with each other in hospital. The pathos of their situation is depicted by floral bouquets and tubes.

“I’m a technician,” said Tayla, who does one or two murals a week for outdoor advertising firm, Apparition Media. “I mix the colours to match the picture that the client wants.” 

Illustrated posters are popular for vintage style movies, she said. 

“There’s a series called Stranger Things and they’re back to the old style like ET

“Our company’s half in the street art scene and half in advertising,” she said.

It has been a struggle to find the right medium for her skills, Tayla said. Her day job is technical while she’s an artist on her own time. She did two years of visual art then studied illustration at Melbourne Polytechnic.

She is critical, like most art students, about the dominant culture in visual art courses. In her day it was conceptual work. 

“People come out of high school and they do visual art because they’re great at painting. There’s a term called de-skilling. It happens in visual art. They don’t teach you technical painting at all. By the end you are all doing the same thing – getting a piece of string and tying it to your head.”

Painters often ridicule conceptual and spatial artists and vice versa.

“Those who are painting in an aesthetically pleasing way are forced to have a concept before they use the medium. In illustrations concepts flow.”

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