In 2013 Jon Chandler managed to contact Tibor Helényi via his daughter Flora to ask him some questions, specifically about his film poster art.
The interview was originally published on the now defunct Picturebox Books website.
Sadly Tibor passed away just one year later. He is survived by his wife and daughter.
A site made in his memory can be found HERE, and all proceeds from sales go to his estate.
1: Could you tell me a little about how you got into art / became an artist?
I was interested in art in my whole life, so it was never a question for me what I would choose as my profession. What is more I was attending a high school which was specialized in art, so it was pretty much evident.
2. Do you consider yourself first an artist or an illustrator?
I definitely identify myself as an artist, however the way I look at my work depends on the task required. If I get an order, I look at it as an illustrator, but if I work for myself I see it as a work of art.
3. Have you always managed to make your way in the world as an artist?
Yes, I always have managed it like I said in my first answer.
4. How did you come to work in poster art?
Thanks to my works at university and my teachers’ recommendations I received most of my requests. Certainly I was interested in this type of art, so I was making poster arts with pleasure.
5. What kind of climate were you creating your poster art in?
If you’re referring to influence, then I have to say that no one has influenced me; I never looked at anyone as my role model. Of course I look up to plenty of artists and their work, but knowingly my work has never been affected.
6. Had you seen any of the films you were illustrating for?
Yes, I have seen all of them. I saw them on pre-screening as a duty to my job, but of course I enjoyed most of them.
7. How much freedom were you given to interpret the films with your own visions?
Whole freedom, but of course the theme of the films was a great affect. However if the procurer wasn’t fully satisfied with the outcome, the artwork was rejected, but they never tried to tie me up through the working process.
8. Did your poster work stand out amongst your contemporaries?
I think yes. I was one of those artists whose work was all over the city through that period of time (in the 70s and 80s).
9. What work have you been proudest of?
I’m always proudest at the latest one.
10. Anything you would like to add?
I made my posters with the same pretension as my paintings. It is important to add that my posters were created as paintings and the reproductions were made by those. This means, that I consider myself as a painter, like you asked in your second question.
from left to right
photo1: don’t know, Tibor Helenyi, Ferenc Hosszu
photos 2&3: Tibor Helenyi, Ferenc Hosszu, Ferenc Gregus