The Key Art Edition

Key art, if you don’t know, are the images that identify shows in streaming menus. I am old enough to remember TV listings in the newspaper and TV Guides. I still surf channels on the guide with my digital cable, but I also scroll through the onscreen menus of streaming services. That’s where the key art is at.

Like the best movie posters and book covers, these images are bold and simple promotional graphics, but as Rex Sorgatz explains in Why is this interesting?, key art is more than just a simple image or, at least, it should be.

Good key art is so evocative, so iconic, that it becomes the image that springs to mind whenever you think about a show:

One neglected characteristic ties all these images together: They are all horizontal.

It sounds trivial, but going wide helped differentiate TV key art as its own medium, distinct from book covers and movie posters. And because these images appear on streaming platforms, they are unencumbered by other marketing copy, like taglines, cast and credits, and multifarious blurbs.

There is a simple purity to key art.

I have never thought about key art as much as Rex Sorgatz. He keeps his favorite key art here.

October 19, 2021


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