UK-based illustrator Manjit Thapp has created an evocative tribute to the filmmaker’s most iconic scenes.
Leafing through the pages of Manjit Thapp’s ‘A Wes Anderson Zine’, you may need to pause a while to drink in the details. The afternoon light creates a balmy glow as Margot Tenenbaum smokes a cigarette; a few pages later, Peter, Francis and Jack, gaze wistfully through a train window. Inspired by some of her favourite moments from the director’s filmography, UK-based illustrator Manjit Thapp crystallises iconic scenes from the likes of The Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited.
More than simply being an ode to Wes Anderson, the zine also raises a toast to his motley crew of characters. “I first began watching Anderson’s films when I was 17,” says Thapp, “I enjoy so many aspects of his work, but as an artist I’m especially drawn to the visuals he imagines. The costume design, art direction and colour palettes never fail to inspire me.”
This personal project began when Thapp had a few weeks to herself in between commissioned work. Given the restricted time frame, she decided to concentrate on a handful of films: Moonrise Kingdom, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited and The Grand Budapest Hotel.
“The first Wes Anderson film I watched was The Royal Tenenbaums,” says Thapp, “and it still remains my favourite. I love the characters and remember saving lots of screenshots after watching it. There were some scenes from the other films which I knew I wanted to include in the zine, and I rewatched them to pick some other favourite parts.”
Each Manjit Thapp piece always begins on paper, and is later coloured and finished on Photoshop. This mix of traditional and digital media creates a distinct visual texture, with graphite scrawls peppered across the compositions. “I love the textures that traditional media create,” Thapp explains, “especially when using pencils, and I like to retain that as much as possible in the finished piece. I like to combine the looseness of traditional media with the more refined nature of digital art.”
A few years ago, Thapp release a series of narrative illustrations which spoke to the experiences of brown South Asian women. When asked about her proclivity for celebrating women in all their beauty and diversity in relation to ‘A Wes Anderson Zine’, she responds, “There are very few people of colour in Anderson’s movies, particularly women of colour. For me it’s important to show diversity in my work; being South Asian, I grew up around a lack of representation of brown women in popular culture. I try to challenge this idea through my personal work. This zine has an equal mix of men and women characters, even though most of Anderson’s movies feature men in the prominent roles.”
So, can we expect a second edition of ‘A Wes Anderson Zine’? “I’d love to expand the zine at some point,” Thapp teases, “but until then I’m concentrating on watching more movies, and sketching the scenes that stay with me long after the credits roll. A few months ago, I drew the last scene from Call Me by Your Name. It was heartbreaking, and yet so beautiful. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
See more of Manjit Thapp’s work at manjitthapp.co.uk
Published 27 Apr 2019
By Erica Dorn
Lead graphic designer Erica Dorn describes how she helped bring the director’s future Japan to life.
The director’s 1996 debut feature is out now via The Criterion Collection.