Hocus Pocus, everybody focus! Whether you are ready or not, the spooky season is here again, that magical time when you carve your pumpkin, throw on your witch hat, and pop in all your favorite Halloween movies. Well, “Sistahs,” it’s been 300-er-28 years, and like many children of the 90’s I’ve been watching the Halloween cult classic Hocus Pocus every year for Halloween (and then some). Something about the holiday has always been enchanting, or better yet, bewitching.
The mystery, the magic and the idea where fantasy becomes reality. A natural fit for an artist like me. Hocus Pocus in its short 28 years has quickly become a Halloween staple and one of the most beloved Halloween movie treats, spawning two star-studded celebratory specials and a much anticipated and long demanded sequel set to premier next year exclusively on Disney+. Imagine my joy when I was offered the chance to do a poster to celebrate the worst working witches for my favorite holiday, Hocus Pocus.
I’ve come to the realization that when working on a project you’re personally attached to, it can sometimes be more difficult to come up with new concepts than you’d think. Not for lack of ideas, but because there’s too many ideas! In fact, if I didn’t have a deadline to keep me focused, I would still be making thumbnails for the Hocus Pocus poster – the possibilities are endless! Enough ideas to fill a book of shadows made out of all sorts of ghoulish things? Perhaps. The Denison sibling duo and friend Allison with help from that mangy feline, Thackery Binx, might be our protagonists, but the Sanderson Sisters are the stars of the show. I knew I had to let them steal the spotlight.
As I stated before, I love Hocus Pocus. I’ve watched it countless times. I would even wager I could probably do a one-man show acting out the whole film. Looking to the film, it’s history and behind-the-scenes extras, I found my inspiration. Using the motifs, themes and color palettes I found within the film, like foraging through the forest for ingredients for a spell, this deep-dive into Hocus Pocus led me to some costume test footage that laid the foundation for my final design choice. A dash of burgundy red skies, a full moon, dust from the grave of Billy the Butcher, and costume test footage!?!
An unexpected find, for sure! The reel showed the Sanderson Sisters dancing in the dark woods. Knowing I’d be using the Sanderson Sisters as my foundation, like a lightning bolt from a witch’s finger, inspiration struck! The test footage reminded me of a few things. The Sanderson Sisters are known for their singing and dancing like a retro girl pop group. They’re also known for their twirling dance-like “calming circles.” A quotable fan favorite moment, “I am CALM!”
Lastly, witches were often accused of dancing in the woods under the full moon in the 1600’s during the notorious Salem witch hunts, the same time period the infamous Sanderson Sisters are from. Touching on multiple points of reference and weaving together my visual spell, I knew what design I had to go with. It is the multilayered reference that excites me as a creative. Being able to pull from multiple references, be it to history, source material, or imagination, the fun is in uniting these references in a harmonious way. An almost alchemical balancing act all creatives do to form their final creation, bringing it to life!
Lighting my black flame candle, grabbing my broom and a deadman’s toe (a fresh one, of course), I got down to business to make my bewitching poster, hopefully making my fellow fans and the Sanderson Sisters proud. So join us for a spell and partake in the wicked time we know you’ll have with the Sanderson Sisters. And if you happen to find yourself enchanted under the full moon and hear the whisper of a witches song wafting through the air, remember, it’s just a bunch of Hocus Pocus.
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