Stephen Wildish: The Interview

The Internet overflows with movie memes but every so often one breaks through the chatter. Take the work of Stephen Wildish, a UK-based graphic designer with a knack for turning out simple but striking alphabets that communicate a loving knowledge of film.

Movie madness, from A to Z.

Stephen’s work has been making the rounds of late and we recently chatted him up via email. The text of our conversation is embedded below…

IG211: Could you please introduce yourself (and your website) for our readers?

SW: I am Stephen Wildish, [and] I trained in Fine Art/Printmaking [but] have since wandered into graphic design. I love to make silly/funny things, and I do so every Friday. I call it The Friday Project. I pop these up on my website,, and the various social media networks.

IG211: So, the obvious question: how did you develop the concept for the movie alphabets?

SW: The movie alphabets came about because I had a strange desire to draw Michael J. Fox as Marty FcFly (I could see how his bodywarmer would look in my head) so I drew it… then I kept drawing until the ’80s was finished. I then got addicted and can’t stop making them!

''Whoa, this vest is heavy.''

IG211: I love the simple, icon-like approach to your work. Do you draw by hand or are these projects rendered using an illustrating program?

SW: I use illustrator. It’s a simple technique but it can take a long time to draw out an alphabet…

IG211: Each alphabet seems to include some very memorable images and then a few others that require more puzzle crunching. Is this deliberate on your part?

SW: Definitely on purpose. I have tried to include films I have seen or personal favorites rather than obvious choices. In the case of the Sci-fi film alphabet, I left off Star Trek as I knew it would be controversial. I like the ones that take a bit more of a stare to get as well, gives it s few more seconds looking before you get bored with it.

IG211: Talk a little bit about the reaction thus far. I’ve seen your work now on a number of my favorite aggregators (/Film, Laughing Squid, Geeks Are Sexy, etc. etc. etc.) and that must be very gratifying. How did these get into circulation so to speak? Was it an organic process?

SW: I have only ever posted these up on blogs and social media networks, so the reaction has been purely organic. It [has] taken me by surprise to be honest as I am now more than half way through my second year of doing the Friday Project so it’s nice to have something that has been popular. The Friday Project is now how I get most of my design work, much better than paying for adverts!

IG211: The format could be applied to almost any genre of film. Are you concerned that you’ll be pigeonholed as the “alphabet guy”? Conversely, do you have more alphabets in the works? (Editor’s note: I’d like to a Noir draft…)

SW: Haha, yep! When I finish one I have said every time ‘never again’ mainly because of the amount of time but also a fear of getting labelled as the alphabet idiot. But I always come back, mainly because people have suggested a few that I couldn’t resist (the horror alphabet was a suggestion) and yes, a film noire one would be really nice. A few that I considered are the Silent Films and Sexy Films (Last Tango In Paris)… but I might have trouble explaining that one to my wife.

IG211: Name, if you would, a few of your favorite movies?

SW: I am a sucker for ’80s comedies like Spaceballs and Princess Bride. But, ultimately it is any Pink Panther film (with Peter Sellers of course).

IG211: Finally, anything else you’d like to share (new projects, thoughts, observations, plugs, etc.)?

SW: I am trying to get my Optic Trumps into production. It’s a full set of trumps based on glasses of the rich and famous, give me a call!

Specs from the reel world.

IG211: Kudos again to Stephen for taking the time to speak with us!

Looking for more great designs and 80’s t-shirts? You might like a Captain America t-shirt, or a fun The Flash t-shirt, or even a Breakfast Club shirt!

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