Space scene with aliens and humans

'The Return of the Jedi', 1983

Kirby’s talent for encompassing the essence of a sprawling story within a single imaginative image brought him regular work with the promotional side of the film industry.

Although not regarded as one of the legendary figures of film poster art, he carved a solid enough reputation in his years working for three of the leading British companies: Downton Advertising, Pulford Publicity and Feref Associates. Kirby was primarily an illustrator, working to layouts by renowned designers like Eric Pulford and Eddie Paul.

By the early 1950s, when he entered the industry, the horizontal landscape ‘quad’ had been established for a decade as the UK’s preferred cinema poster format. Kirby worked on numerous quads in the 1950s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Sadly, the dispersal of some of his earlier work, undocumented, means that our knowledge of the 1950s and ‘60s period remains patchy. Between 1972 and ‘87, however, Kirby’s account books list many jobs for Feref for UK and overseas film promotion. These include quads, video covers and even ‘film tie-in’ record sleeves. Some of the images he created have since become classics.