The rabid fans of anal-retentive, quirk auteur Wes Anderson—we’re talking about those who can name Max Fischer’s Vietnam school drama in Rushmore (Heaven and Hell), cite Anderson’s inspiration for The Royal Tenenbaums (Orson Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons) and sing the Portuguese lyrics of Seu Jorge’s Bowie covers from The Life Aquatic —could also tell you a lot about the director’s brother, Eric Chase Anderson. That’s because the childlike artwork you see in Wes’s films (including the paintings attributed to Richie in Tenenbaums)—and the Criterion Collection DVD covers, inserts and menu pages—were all done by Eric. All, that is, except for the new Criterion release of Wes’s fanciful 1996 debut, Bottle Rocket, centering on three slump-shouldered characters’ romanticism of a life on the lam. When Eric was unavailable, 29-year-old Andersonville resident Ian Dingman, who counts himself among Anderson’s rabid fans, landed his dream gig.
Time Out Chicago: When did you first see Bottle Rocket? Ian Dingman: I was 17 and a senior in high school. It was my intro to indie film. My friend worked at a movie-rental place, so they got me the Bottle Rocket poster and I hung it in my room. [Laughs] It had never even entered my radar that I would ever get a job like this. I always assumed Eric would do the artwork, and I was happy with that because he does great stuff. When it happened, it was very surreal and it still sort of is.
TOC: Anderson is known to be very controlling of his vision. Did that come across while working with him? Ian Dingman: He wrote a little synopsis of what he wanted on each item, so it was very thought-out on his part. He knew exactly what he wanted for every menu page. From the get-go, he said the one thing he wanted on the cover—and he never wavered the entire time—was a pink sky and a green field of grass. [Other times], I would draw something that was basically just black and white line art and then he would say, “I want blue and I want yellow.”
TOC: Besides the cover and menu, what other art does the DVD include? Ian Dingman: Besides the bar codes, everything is hand drawn. There’s a 25-page booklet, in which I mimicked the “75-year plan” notebook Owen Wilson’s character carries throughout the movie. There’s also a couple essays by [producer] James L. Brooks and James Caan [who plays Mr. Henry].
TOC: Did anyone bring up the similarity of your last name to Owen Wilson’s character’s name in Bottle Rocket, Dignan? Ian Dingman: Jokingly at the beginning, yeah. There is an actual friend of Wes’s named Dignan. And as soon as Criterion released the info about the DVD, all these people on message boards were speculating that my name was a typo and the real Dignan was doing the artwork. [Laughs]
TOC: So did you make a truckload of money? Ian Dingman: [Laughs] I deduced that I made about 50 cents on the hour over the eight months. There were a couple of times where I worked 36 hours straight. But it was one of those jobs I would’ve done for free.
The Criterion Collection release of Bottle Rocket is out now.