Studio Visits

A Close-Up on Greg Ruth’s Genre-Infused Portraiture

Inside Criterion / Criterion Designs — Feb 27, 2019


Growing up in Houston, Texas, in the 1970s and ’80s, Greg Ruth fell in love with art but had a hard time imagining himself pursuing it professionally. But almost three decades of devotedly plying his craft as an illustrator in a variety of mediums—ranging from graphic novels to children’s books to posters—have established him as a true veteran of the field, one whose knack for combining strikingly precise portraiture with highly stylized elements has translated beautifully on a number of memorable Criterion editions, including the covers for Notorious, Moonrise, and A Touch of Zen. For the latest episode in our Studio Visits series, we headed to the small Massachusetts town where Ruth now lives, just in time to see him presenting his work at an annual fall festival. During our visit, he went into detail about how he achieves his simple yet hauntingly beautiful effects with sumi ink, which brings a sense of immediacy to his images, and graphite, which offers a dreamy richness to his hyperrealistic illustrations. Watch the video above to hear him talk about how he envisions these commissions as places where “art and film can dance with each other.”