In 1982 Michael Jackson released E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, a storybook album read by the King of Pop himself. Undoubtedly an interesting piece of pop ephemera, it included a poster of the pop sensation with the alien and has become a somewhat collectible item.
The folks at Redscroll Records are proudly displaying this poster in their store and have even adopted the duo as unofficial mascot team. Once while visiting the store and expressing my love for the image’s kitschy glory with Rick and Josh, the owners of Redscroll, one of them mentioned wanting to create a photo-op standee where customers could put their faces in a hole to become the King of Pop or the Extra Terrestrial. Assuming they were joking, I kind of laughed it off. They assured me that they were very serious about the project. They would use it for record fairs and store promo events as a fun attraction much like you’d find at a carnival or amusement park, and asked if I was up for the job. I accepted, adding that it was the type of project I was born for.
Here’s a step by step of how I put it all together.
Step 1: I began with a line drawing of the poster image adding in a forest background and a lower portions of the two figures.
Step 2: Next, I needed to create a way to transfer the image onto the surface I’d be painting on. Ideally, an opaque projector could have been used to achieve this, but to keep costs down I opted to print out the image scaled to the appropriate size on 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper which were taped together like a huge puzzle and set over carbon transfer paper to be traced onto the wood. Apparently this step is irresistible to cats.
Step 3: In an effort to create a sturdy piece, I decided that to frame it all out with 1×3 boards. A fine excuse to break out the power tools.
Step 4: Next, I secured the main surface to the frame and transferred my illustration using carbon transfer paper as mentioned in step two.
Step 5: Next, I attacked the boards with acrylic paint and paint markers.
Step 6: Next, I needed to cut out the face holes for people to be able to stick their own faces through. For this I fired up the jigsaw.
Step 7: I wanted to give this standee some flexibility allowing it to be utilized by one or two people. Meaning you and a friend could become Michael Jackson and E.T. respectively. Or you could take a photo alone with the other character face in place. For this feature I attached the cutout faces to hinged latching doors that could be opened or closed as needed. The final touches were to sand and repaint the edges of the jigsaw cuts to avoid face splinters and treated the entire standee with a weatherproofing sealant.
Despite the inside looking like a public humiliation device from days of the Puritans, here it is in use by a brave Redscroll Records customer.
This was one of my favorite projects to work on to date. I love its nostalgic effect, scale and functionality. Also, it’s rare that I get to use a jigsaw. When its owners came to claim it, I must admit I felt tinge of sadness in letting it go.
In a curious instance of synchronicity, while taking a break from the project for a weekend, I took a trip to the New York Comic Con where I met E.T. in person, and he happened to be wearing Michael Jackson’s rhinestone glove. I returned home to finish the standee knowing that this was a sign confirming my first claim, that I was born for this project.
I leave you with Michael Jackson singing “Someone in the Dark” from the E.T. the Extra Terrestrial storybook album.