The Creative Process: The Thing Movie Poster

6 Oct

John Carpenter’s “The Thing” brought us one of the most iconic movie posters of all time. The poster not only has a great design but it has a super cool story behind it.

In 1982 artist Drew Struzan received a phone call from Universal Studios. They are remaking The Thing and they need poster art…by tomorrow. The publicity department didn’t have any photos to use as reference or even any concept art.

According to an interview with, Struzan got an immediate concept and went to work.

“It was a very odd experience,” Struzan told “I got an immediate concept, which is not unusual for me. I dressed up in a winter snow outfit and my wife took a Polaroid of me.”

Struzan based his sketch on the photo and sent it off to the studio for approval. They liked the idea and after taking some more photos with his 35mm camera he started to paint.

“At 9 a.m. a guy shows up at my doorstep and says, ‘Is the painting ready?’. I had about an hour to go, so I finished painting it and he took it away.”


The Thing 1982Completed in just twenty four hours, and without the artist ever seeing the film, here is the poster. It’s one of the most memorable ’80s horror posters. The bright shining light suggests unsightly horrors and goes along with the philosophy that it’s scarier if you don’t show the creature and you let your imagination do the work.







The Thing 2011

This poster takes a similar design path as the 1982 poster. The image within the text looks cool. It also makes good use of white space… or sort of black space in this case. The text placement is really nice.









The Thing From Another World 1951

This is the original The Thing From Another World poster from 1951. It has a completely different feel from the other two posters. The color scheme is a lot richer and it isn’t overwhelmingly icy and blue like the 1982 poster which clues you in on the setting.







Struzan also designed posters for Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Star Wars, and Harry Potter.


2 Responses to “The Creative Process: The Thing Movie Poster”

  1. chicagochick510 October 8, 2013 at 7:38 am #

    I never realized there were so many posters for just one movie. Interesting idea! Also, I REALLY hope you start posting about holiday movies after Halloween!!!!

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