Pablo Ferro, who designed everything from the title sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove to the hand-lettered logo for Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, died last Friday at his home in Sedona, Arizona from complications of pneumonia. He was 83.
In the world of movie titles, Ferro was considered one of its godfathers, right up there alongside the likes of Saul Bass and Maurice Binder. Forgoing an easily identifiable style, Ferro was known for creating work with a hand-crafted touch, especially with his eccentric lettering skills, and for his formal experimentation with cinematic techniques like quick cuts and split-screen. A selection of his work can be seen below:
Ferro’s body of work extended beyond titles; among his most iconic accomplishments was the madcap trailer for A Clockwork Orange:
While still in high school, the Cuban-born artist was hired by Stan Lee to ink comics at Atlas Comics, but Ferro’s formal art training began at the age of 18 when he started working in the New York animation industry. His first job was at Tempo Productions, the studio run by UPA co-founder David Hilberman, where Ferro worked his way up to being an assistant for the legendary Bill Tytla. Ferro worked his way up to animator, jumping around the bustling and innovative New York commercial animation scene of the 1950s, working at shops like Robert Lawrence Productions, Academy Pictures, and Elektra Films.
In the early-1960s, he co-founded Ferro, Mogubgub and Schwartz, where he produced hundreds of animated and live-action spots. It was considered for a time to be one of the hottest commercial houses in the business. Here’s a reel of some of their work:
For an even deeper dive into Ferro’s life, seek out the documentary Pablo from a few years back. The trailer is below: