If you follow this blog you might have noticed that I am a big fan of Breaking Bad. So when few weeks ago I came across Posterology – a project of a Hungarian graphic artist who made 62 posters matching all the episodes of the iconic show – I knew that I wanted to interview Zsutti about the project for which even Vince Gilligan (the father of Breaking Bad) virtually shaked his hand. The news about Posterology has been spreading on the Internet like a bushfire, and today it counts over 10000 followers. The Hungarian graphic artist, whose name is Zsolt Molnár (31) alias Zsutti, apart from making computer graphics, is also into photography. He grew up in the country, loves nature and animals. At the moment he lives in Budapest where he enjoys taking everyday shots with his camera. He likes biking, and he uses his fixie to get around. He never wants to grow up completely.
Could you describe your style in five words?
Dirty, minimalist, straightforward, seriously funny 🙂
What inspired you to make a series of illustrations for Breaking Bad? What was your original goal?
When the series ended last September, I was so blown away that I felt the urge to create a memento to honour the show. Together with my girlfriend we watched the first episode again, and maybe that was the moment when I got the idea to create a poster for it. Then the second poster followed and the third one and suddenly I knew that I wanted to make an illustration for every single episode of the show. I did not have any particular goal with it. I just wanted to honour my new favourite series and do something completely different from my daily work. It had started as practice, but it turned into an obsession.
What is your daily job?
I work as a UX & UI designer, but I deal solely with mobile applications. This requires a different type of creativity then making a poster, and I definitely have less pixel shoveling to do. My job requires a lot of brainstorming, administration and testing.
When did you start watching Breaking Bad?
The show was in its forth season when I started following it. I can still recall that moment years ago – well before it started – when I saw the trailer of the pilot and I thought that I should check this series out. Then I completely forgot about it. Until after the third season it started spreading on the Internet that there was a bloody good show, Breaking Bad. I remembered the trailer then and finally I joined in from the fourth season, and got my girlfriend hooked on it as well.
What do you like most about the show?
Almost everything: the characters, the cast, the plot, the drama, the twists in the storyline, the extensive symbolism and, of course, the beautifully photographed scenes.
What is your favourite episode and why?
I cannot choose one favourite episode because I have at least a dozen of them, each of them for various reasons. This is also an indication of a great show: you cannot really pick the best episode.
Who is your favourite character and why?
I also have several favourite characters, but not too many. I like Jesse because we are almost the same age, and in his actions and way of thinking sometimes I see my younger self. Also he is the most miserable character, and he has to go through the most pain. Gus Fring was my favourite underworld character. His immaculate style, cold intelligence – which were fine opposites of Tuco – captivated me completely. Also there is Hector Salamanca, the old gangster who had a stroke. No words can express what Mark Margolis (who plays Salamanca) could get out of the character only with his facial expressions and a bell. Epic!
Since when have you been doing art works?
More or less for 12 years, from the moment that I started to work with computer graphics. Now looking back my first drawings were pretty lame, but it was still good for practice. Maybe in 12-year time I will be looking differently at the Braking Bad posters as well. I hope this will be the case, because it would mean that my skills would improved over time.
Drawing illustrations – is it a hobby or a profession for you?
Unfortunately so far it is only a hobby, but I wish that I can turn it into a profession, and I could make a living out of it. At the moment I am working hard on this, and I hope that I will succeed. During the last couple of months I gained a lot of followers on Posterology, and I also got various offers, so my dream might just come true.
How long did it take to create this series? How long for each poster?
The whole project took about 4,5-5 months. During this time I spent roughly 400 hours actually making the posters. Plus, I watched every episode multiple times, occasionally 5-6 times. The project also required a lot of research. Luckily I found the Heisenberg Chronicles site, which turned out to be a great source. In average I spent about 6,5 hours on each poster, but some took an entire weekend with about 16-18 hours of work.
What technique did you use to create these posters?
First of all I always watched the episode, which belonged to a particular poster, occasionally even several times. Then I took notes of the most important moments, objects and quotes. If there was a scene representing well what I was looking for then I took a screenshot of it, and I started the drawing process based on that image. When there was no good screenshot available I made a lot of sketches and line drawings based on what I envisaged. At the beginning I used Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop simultaneously. I used Illustrator for drawing the main theme, and Photoshop to create the background and the text. Later on, while I got more focused on the project and I did more and more corrections, using two programs slowed down the process so I sticked to Photoshop only. As far as I remember the turtle of Tortuga was the last poster created with Illustrator. My girlfriend was the first person to see the posters and I made corrections based on her remarks. Another set of eyes helped a lot when I could not see the forest from the trees.
Do you have any professional idol? If so, who?
This changes from time to time, at the moment I do not have. For me the problem with idols is that if I learn a lot about someone’s work, then it will influence me and even subconsciously I might start coping his/her style. And I definitely would like to avoid that, since I have no intention of stealing anyone’s style. Also there are so many talented artists out there that it would be really hard to choose one role model from them. Of course, there are idols who have affected my work when I started and ever since then, like Leonardo da Vinci, Salvador Dalí or Alphons Mucha.
What do you think is the secret of Breaking Bad’s success?
I think that the creators looked at all possible scenarios and were able to choose the best ones in order to tell the story of Walter White. Also an amazing crew came together, who created the world of Breaking Bad. I read tons of articles and interviews and I believe that in the team there was not one person who had not been 100% committed to the show and to his/her own responsibilities in it. This was the only way to create something, which catches the attention of millions of people all around the globe. I also made the posters following this spirit.
What did you feel when you saw that your work had been posted on the Facebook page of Breaking Bad?
I was really proud but at the same time I had a hard time believing it. I also could not seize the fact that the news of the posters was spreading like a bushfire on the Internet. But undoubtedly the biggest honour was that the assistant of Vince Gilligan got in touch with me. It is like as if Batman would ask Alfred to send me a text 🙂
What challenges did you have to face during the project?
The biggest challenge was definitely time management. The posters were made in my free time, so after I was done for the day with my full-time job, or during weekends. I had a schedule for the pace I wanted to follow. Unfortunately, though, I did not mange to estimate the time correctly, the project took much longer to finish it. It was my girlfriend who was really affected by this; we could spend much less time together over the weekends.
What was the biggest lesson that you have learnt through this project?
That you really need to plan ahead. Every project has a timeframe, which you think would be enough to cover it. But then during the process problems start to arise, and while dealing with them you might lose track of time. I thought that I would be able to finish all the posters within three months, but it took much longer. Also never give up! You have to solve the problems and continue. Giving up is always easier.
When I first looked at your posters I started to wonder: did you actually have the right to create a product based on someone else’s intellectual property? Since then Sony Entertainment requested to take down the posters from the Posterology webshop until further agreement with them…
I think that the current copyright laws are pretty outdated and I do not believe that they would change any time soon. As far as I know – but I might have the wrong information – I would have had the right to create my own product, based on my own ideas, but linked to the intellectual property of somebody else. What I did not have the right to do was selling this product on the Internet without any consent of the original owner. This is the reason why Sony Entertainment got in touch with me and I took notice of it. I have no money, time or intention to get into a legal argument with them. I trust that they see me as a partner and we will manage to find a mutual agreement. However, I cannot tell what this agreement would be, since I am still waiting for it myself. Regarding „fan art” as phenomena: If someone is crazy about a movie or a series he simply does not ask for a consent from the owner of that intellectual property if he could create something to honour the admired show. Also he would not ask for permission [from the legal owner] to share it and to make money out of it, because for sure he would not get it – at least I think nobody sees a real chance for that, so they do not even try. You can look around on the Internet how many people make and sell fan art. Millions of people could be held legally responsible, but the studios do not have the capacity for such thing. Also we should not forget that some good fun art could increase the loyalty towards a show or even a studio. If producers start going after these artists this can even cause them more harm then good. Who knows? I think, on one hand what is happening to me is the appreciation of my work and the Posterology project. On the other hand there are many more artists out there who would deserve such attention as well.
What is your next project?
Well, at the moment Posterology is the PROJECT. After Breaking Bad the next TV show that I will do illustrations for is Hannibal. I am also planning to create posters for other shows in the near future, including House of Cards, Game of Thrones, and True Detective.
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