How a Gorgeous Landscape Painting Became the Paramount Pictures Logo

Paramount Pictures Logo

Photo: Campanile Fine Art, Inc. Artwork by Dario Campanile (Campanile Fine Art, Inc.) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Artist Dario Campanile poses with his finished landscape painting, which was part of the Paramount Pictures logo for 15 years.

When you think of movie production, Paramount Pictures probably comes to mind. It’s one of the largest studios in the U.S. and has been around nearly as long as cinema itself—in fact, Paramount is the fifth oldest studio in the world. Established in 1912 as the Famous Players Film Company, it has come a long way since the pre-talkies days; it’s expanded, for instance, to include DreamWorks Pictures. Despite changing technology and styles of filmmaking, there’s one thing that has stayed constant—the Paramount Pictures logo.

Paramount Pictures Logo

Image: William Wadsworth Hodkinson (Paramount Pictures) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Original Paramount Pictures logo from 1914.

The first branding for Paramount was created in 1914. It featured the name Paramount in Excelsis with a crown of stars and a mountain. According to legend, the mountain was based on a drawing made by co-founder William Wadsworth (W.W.) Hodkinson that's inspired by memories of his childhood spent in Utah. These two elements are enduring parts of the logo that have been recreated throughout the years.

Fine art, particularly painting, can be a way to inspire changes in branding. This happened with Paramount in 1986 thanks to artist Dario Campanile. The company commissioned a painting (in 1986) of the majestic mountain—known as “the mountain of dreams”—for their 75th anniversary in 1987. A striking image, it features a white-capped peak with crystal-clear waters below. The life-like image then became the basis for a new logo and was used for 15 years in films starting with Critical Condition in 1987 and ending with Crossroads in 2002.

Unlike fine art, a logo isn't signed by its creator. Considering the wide use of the Paramount logo, Campanile's handiwork is largely anonymous. When he is noticed, however, he looks back on the commission fondly. In a blog post from 2012, he writes, “It’s great when you are browsing YouTube and you re-discover artwork that you painted long ago. It’s nice that the person that created this short clip credited me in his description.” Watch the clip from it, below.

Artist Dario Campanile painted a gorgeous landscape painting that later became the Paramount Pictures logo, used from 1987 to 2002. Here it is in action:

Dario Campanile: Website | Facebook
h/t: [Reddit]

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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