Veteran Movie Poster Designer Vic Delotavo Brings Back the Glory Days

In looking back at one artist’s body of work, the Vargas Museum’s latest exhibit takes a comprehensive snapshot of our local film industry’s past

by Emil Hofileña

 

In response to the introductory text that accompanies Vic Delotavo: Posters for Philippine Cinema, we’d like to reason that the art of the film poster has not, in fact, vanished. Digital technology and the advent of social media have only changed the means through which this art is expressed, not its capacity to be artistic. However, while modern poster design is arguably more versatile and subtle in how it communicates, classic posters have a real tactile quality that digital art can’t possess. Much of Delotavo’s work—from a portfolio of over 100 posters since the 1980s—makes use of collage, and places more focus on showing the stars’ faces than on communicating thematic or plot-related details. But the tangibility of his pieces captures an entire era of filmmaking, back when our cinema was young, playful, and practically stitched together by hand.

 

Delotavo’s enthusiasm for poster making stems from an educational background in advertising and fine arts, and his work as a set and costume designer in Iloilo. He would eventually go on to become the most prolific poster artist for major studios such as Regal, Viva, and Seiko—and would create up to a dozen pieces per year. The exhibit at the Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center takes but a small sample of this extensive body of work, but effectively conveys Delotavo’s fondness for particular aesthetic choices, as well as the kind of demands that our local film industry used to make with regard to marketing. In this way, the exhibit not only becomes a portrait of Delotavo himself, but also a unique snapshot of the inner workings of the industry.

 

The featured posters are organized according to genre: action, epic, horror, fantasy, comedy and bold films—this last collection cleverly situated at the back of the exhibit. Particularly memorable works include Delotavo’s fun, tilted layout for the 1990 Tony Cruz comedy Michael & Madonna; his Rosemary’s Baby-inspired poster for Celso Ad. Castillo’s 1985 erotic film Perfurmed Garden; and his piece for Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes’s 1988 horror film Tiyanak, which announces in a large, sans-serif font: “This baby kills! But can anyone kill this baby?” It’s this blending of styles both subtle and outrageous that allows Delotavo to show us the best qualities of each genre, while maintaining a wide-eyed love for the craft.

 

Vic Delotavo: Posters for Philippine Cinema is on display at the Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center until June 9.