Welcome to our graphic design time machine, as we journey back to 1993 and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the groundbreaking film that redefined cinema and left an indelible mark on graphic design: Jurassic Park.
If you’re one of those rare creatures who hasn’t yet seen the movie, here’s your survival guide. Directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel, Jurassic Park takes audiences on a wild ride to an island populated by genetically resurrected dinosaurs. The visionary entrepreneur John Hammond invites a group of experts — paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler, chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm — alongside his grandchildren Tim and Lex to preview his spectacular creation: a theme park where dinosaurs roam freely. However, when a corrupted employee undermines the park’s security systems, chaos breaks loose, setting the prehistoric predators free and putting everyone’s lives on the line.
As we celebrate this cinematic milestone, we can’t overlook the significant impact Jurassic Park had on the world of graphic design. From jaw-dropping visual effects to iconic branding, this film revolutionized the way we perceive and incorporate design elements in popular culture.
In this article, we’ll explore the mesmerizing realm of Jurassic Park’s graphic design and its profound influence on the visual landscape of the 1990s. From the iconic Jurassic Park logo to the captivating posters that adorned our bedroom walls, we’ll uncover the design secrets that made Jurassic Park a timeless masterpiece.
Design Elements: Chip Kidd Book Cover
The first design of the iconic Jurassic Park logo can be traced back to Chip Kidd, an acclaimed book cover graphic designer working at Penguin Random House. Kidd is credited with crafting the striking book cover for Michael Crichton’s novel, Jurassic Park.
The inspiration for his design came from an “unlikely” source: a Tyrannosaurus Rex illustration found in the gift shop of the American Museum of Natural History. Kidd’s vision was to create a book cover unlike any other dinosaur-themed design ever seen, a representation that would be unique and stand out in its own right. Here is an amusing video of Chip himself, explaining his version of the story.
As a self-described minimalist, Kidd sought to design something that was graphically flat, yet visually striking. He aimed to strip the design down to its most essential parts, favoring a no-frills approach that reflected the primal simplicity of the T-Rex.
Kidd’s design process was filled with trials and experimentation. He took great care with each detail, and his dedication ultimately paid off. Michael Crichton was thrilled with Kidd’s work, and indeed, the design of the famed T-Rex skeleton silhouette proved to be a huge success. It forever left an indelible mark on the Jurassic Park franchise.
Iconic Branding: The Creation of the Movie Logo
When it came to creating the identity of the movie adaptation, Spielberg had a clear vision: he didn’t want actual dinosaurs to be used on logos or promotional material. Moreover, Jurassic Park would feature a lot of on-screen branding, so it needed a logo that could be used throughout the film and on the merchandise being sold.
It was Universal Pictures marketing executive, Tom Martin, who guided a team in crafting the official park logo. After producing more than 100 designs without finding the perfect fit, they created an image that echoed Kidd’s skeleton motif. A small jungle illustration was also included to underscore the magnitude of the T. Rex.
In a recent interview, when asked about the adaptation of his design, Kidd commented “… that was really interesting, really interesting. They didn’t alter the dinosaur drawing in any way. They just added all this stuff to it that my design teacher would not have approved of at all. You know, the stylized typography, there’s little palm trees in the background. The yellow circle. And it just looked so different, and yet the drawing was the same. But that’s showbiz, what are you going to do?“
Funnily enough, Universal didn’t even need to acquire rights from Kidd’s work, as the illustrator was appreciative of the fact that they wanted to use his work, which became one of the most popular logos in 90s culture and beyond.
The making of Jurassic Park Iconic Poster
While the iconic Jurassic Park logo was being designed, Martin and the talented designer John Alvin were simultaneously working on the film’s poster.
Alvin, known for his creative style, produced several interesting concepts, including sketches of dinosaur footprints, intriguing fossils, and an intense close-up of a dinosaur’s eye. Despite the spectrum of imaginative sketches, Spielberg made a definitive decision. The centerpiece of the poster would be Kidd’s T-Rex skeleton-inspired logo, acting as the singular, striking image. This choice underscored the logo’s importance and its critical role in defining the film’s branding.
The only enhancement to this streamlined yet bold design was a clever tagline: “An adventure 65 million years in the making.” This tagline perfectly encapsulated the film’s thrilling premise and its historical context, further enhancing the captivating allure of the Jurassic Park brand.
Marketing Creativity and Pop Culture Impact
Jurassic Park’s marketing campaigns were a testament to the creative power of graphic design. The film’s promotional materials, including immersive posters, collectible action figures, and themed apparel transported audiences into a prehistoric world brimming with excitement.
These captivating marketing efforts showcased the ability of graphic design to heighten the viewer’s anticipation and create an immersive experience. Beyond the realm of film, Jurassic Park transcended into pop culture, influencing everything from merchandise and video games to theme park attractions. The franchise’s impact on popular culture during the ’90s cannot be overstated, and graphic design played a pivotal role in captivating audiences and fostering an enduring connection.
Jurassic Park's Design Legacy
As we conclude our exploration of Jurassic Park’s influence on graphic design in the 1990s, we invite you to immerse yourself in a curated gallery of contemporary designs inspired by the film.
This collection pays homage to the visual legacy of Jurassic Park, showcasing the continued resonance of its impact on today’s designers. From breathtaking dinosaur illustrations to futuristic compositions, these artworks capture the essence of Jurassic Park’s visual language and its enduring ability to inspire creativity across generations.
Step into our Jurassic Park-inspired design gallery below and behold a captivating collection of contemporary artworks that celebrate the film’s visual legacy. Marvel at the diverse interpretations and art styles on display, each capturing the awe-inspiring world of Jurassic Park in their unique way.
Join us in our next exploration as we continue to uncover the captivating connections between pop culture, design, and the ever-evolving world of graphic design. Stay tuned for more insightful articles and design inspiration that will ignite your imagination!