Designing Citizen Kane, Down to the Letter
When I received the email asking me to work on the cover art for the Criterion Collection edition of Citizen Kane, my emotions quickly went from pure joy to complete dread. What can be done for a film of this size and stature? Had this been sent to the right email address? After calming down a bit and taking a few deep breaths, I reread Criterion art director Eric Skillman’s note. The ask of the brief was to create a collage featuring Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane, so it then became clear to me why I was being asked to contribute, as I am primarily a collage artist and have done collage illustrations for a number of editorial and commercial clients. That weekend, I rewatched the film with the goal of scrutinizing the different stages of Kane’s life. Eric had also passed along hundreds of beautiful photographs and stills from the film to consider, and I looked at every single one—twice.
It was challenging to narrow them down to only a few, but once I had made some selections, I felt that I could start figuring out how to use Kane’s portrait in a collage. I printed out the photos and did an exercise to see what interesting things would happen if I started chopping away at Welles’s portrait. Collage for me is a lot of playing, experimenting, and waiting for something to surprise me, so generally I start cutting things up on my collage table and move things around until something feels right. Working with the Kane photography was a blast; I felt lucky to be trusted with this task. After a lot of exploration, I sent a bunch of collages off to Eric for review and eagerly awaited his response.