Roger Karl Kastel, the illustrator behind some of the most memorable movie poster images of all time, has died. He passed away November 8, at age 92 in Worcester County, MA, according to the post on his official web site.
Kastel’s best-known work included imagery central to the posters for Jaws and The Empire Strikes Back. He also illustrated vivid book covers for the likes of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives and W.G Wells’ The Invisible Man.
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His Jaws illustration was originally created for Peter Benchley’s novel on which the film was based. Describing the process of its creation, Kastel remembered, “I did a very rough sketch, and [the publisher] said, ‘That’s great, just make the shark realistic and bigger. Make him very much bigger!'”
It worked. Benchley’s book was a bestseller and Universal execs, knowing a good thing when they saw it, used Kastel’s art in the movie poster.
Fellow illustrator Drew Struzan paid tribute to Kastel on social media today.
We lost another creative brother … Roger Kastel who gave us the iconic “Jaws” poster among other wonderful pieces of art. It saddens me. Could the lesson be to appreciate all the more our living creatives? pic.twitter.com/I2p4lk5unP
— Drew Struzan 🎨 (@DrewStruzan) November 15, 2023
Kastel was born in White Plains, NY in 1931. After graduating from White Plains High School, he attended the Art Students League in New York City until serving in the U.S. Navy for four years during the Korean War.
Kastel got his first paying art job at the age of 15 doing industrial cartoons. He sold his first illustration in the early 1960s and illustrated paperback book covers and movie posters over the next forty years. Roger worked for all of the major publishers In New York City. His painting for Jaws is included in the books,
The Illustrator in America and 200 Years of American Illustration.
He is survived by his wife Grace of 66 years, his daughter Beth Krebs and her husband Michael and his son Matthew Kastel and his wife Karen. Kastel was the proud grandfather of Jessica and Glen Krebs and Luke and Grant Kastel as well as his great-grandson Liam Kirk-Krebs.
In lieu of flowers his family requests donations to The Artists’ Fellowship, Inc., a charitable organization that assists professional artists in times of emergency, disability or bereavement.
See below for an interview with Kastel from the Jaws doc The Shark Is Still Working.
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