Dawn Baillie, Otis College Alum and Board of Trustees Member, Featured in The New York Times

Alumni, News | March 14, 2024

Dawn Baillie portait, Silence of the Lambs poster

After Dawn Baillie (’86 BFA Communication Arts, Illustration) graduated from Otis College she worked for a few ad agencies before striking out on her own and co-founding BLT Communications. A creative agency specializing in entertainment marketing, the firm has been behind posters for such iconic movies as Silence of the Lambs, Dirty Dancing, and Barbie, to name a few. 

After decades of sustained success, Baillie founded BLT Helps, a non-profit that provides graphic arts services to other non-profit, charitable, and public service organizations. She also helped Otis College get an ambitious career preparedness program off the ground.  Access: A Netflix x Otis Entertainment Certificate Program launched in fall 2023 with a cohort of 18 students from underrepresented communities and across various ages and skill levels. Each student received full-tuition scholarships and will get professional mentorship and a paid apprenticeship after they graduate. 

This week, Baillie’s creative work is the subject of a new exhibition, The Anatomy of a Movie Poster: The Work of Dawn Baillie, on view at the Poster House in New York through September 8, 2024. “This exhibition chronicles not only [Baillie’s] impressive career from junior designer to creative director, but also serves to showcase the evolution of the production of movie posters of the past 35 years, from paste-ups to the introduction of computer technology,” according to Poster House.

The New York Times recently interviewed Baillie for a story about her work and the exhibition; an excerpt from “The Designer Who Makes Movie Posters Worthy of Museums” by Erik Piepenburg, published on Tuesday, March 12, 2024, is below. 

The killer’s knife, a woman cowering before it.

This was typical horror movie box cover stuff before 1991, when Dawn Baillie was asked to design a poster for a cerebral new thriller called “Silence of the Lambs.” She learned it was about a young F.B.I. agent-in-training, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), who enlists the help of an imprisoned serial killer, Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), to solve a case.

“It came to me that I could illustrate ‘Silence’ if Clarice was the ‘lamb’ and the moth — or the bad guys — is what has left her without the right words,” Baillie explained in an email. “I think the poster works in showing vulnerability, strangeness and eeriness.”

In other words, the poster said: This isn’t your typical scary movie.

Starting March 14, Baillie gets marquee billing in a new exhibition, “The Anatomy of a Movie Poster: The Work of Dawn Baillie,” at Poster House in Manhattan. The show, through Sept. 8, takes us from her first poster, “Dirty Dancing” (1987) to “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (2021), for which she was the creative director. Along the way are posters for films as varied as “Zoolander,” “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and “The Truman Show.”

Baillie’s career as a movie poster designer and creative director spans over four decades. Born in 1964, Baillie entered advertising in the 1980s when the industry was dominated by men and posters were mostly made by hand, not computer. After working at the agencies Seiniger Advertising and Dazu, in 1992 she co-founded BLT, the agency behind memorable posters for recent films (“Barbie”), TV shows (“The Last of Us”) and Broadway (“The Music Man”).

Angelina Lippert, the chief curator and director of content at Poster House, called Baillie a “design genius” with a style defined by “effortless simplicity.” Take the poster for “The Silence of the Lambs.”

“It’s visual anxiety that you get when you look at this, which is what makes it indelible,” Lippert said.

Read the full New York Times article.

Related News