In Memoriam: “Jaws” and “Star Wars” artist Roger Kastel

Artist Roger Kastel with his iconic JAWS poster art

We’re sorry to report the death of artist Roger Kastel, perhaps best known as the artist who created iconic posters for the iconic Jaws and The Empire Strikes Back. He was 92.

Roger Kastel was an award-winning artist whose work is instantly recognised in popular culture. His talent was sought after by legendary filmmakers, authors, publishing houses, and production studios. The result – iconic imagery, that will remain timeless.

Paying tribute, fellow artist Bob Eggleton described Roger as a good man and friend, noting how film director George Lucas, on commissioning his first Star Wars work, the first poster for The Empire Strikes Back, gave him a deal so he could make and sell prints of his TESB art, and any Star Wars image or character – forever. On the Jaws poster, Roger, well aware of Steven Spielberg’s raw talent, opted for royalties for what was told to him was going to “last in theaters and drive ins for a week” – a decision that never came back to bite him.

Roger’s official website carries a full announcement of his passing, paying tribute to Roger Karl Kastel, beloved husband, father, uncle, and friend, who died Wednesday 8th November 2023 at age 92 in Worcester County, MA. He was born in White Plains, NY on 11th June 1931, the son of Anna and Karl Kastel.

After graduating from White Plains High School, Roger Kastel attended the Art Students League in New York City until serving in the U.S. Navy for four years during the Korean War. He was a proud American.

During the Korean War, Roger was stationed in California and Hawaii. While in California, Roger met and fell in love with Grace Trowbridge. Upon returning to New York City after the war, Roger married Grace and happily took minor art jobs (ie, sweeping floors and delivering completed art for an art studio) in the hopes of getting his foot in the door. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to be around artists. Roger eventually landed a job drawing cartoons for Reddy Kilowatt (an electric advertising company) and returned to the Art Students League to study.

Roger got his first paying art job at the age of 15 doing industrial cartoons. He sold his first illustration in the early 1960s and illustrated paperback book covers and movie posters over the next forty years. Roger worked for all of the major publishers in New York City. Included in his over 1000 illustrations were the movie posters for the iconic Jaws and The Empire Strikes Back.

His distinctive art also includes the Doc Savage film poster and cover art for Issue #1 of the acclaimed 1975 Doc Savage comic.

Roger’s painting of Jaws is included in the books,
The Illustrator in America and 200 Years of American Illustration.

While Jaws and The Empire Strikes Back may be the most widely recognised of his work, Roger received multiple awards for various other illustrations and fine art over the years.

Cover art by Roger Kastel for Creatures
Cover art by Roger Kastel for Creatures

While in New York City, Roger lived in Greenwich Village with his wife and two children until 1970 when they moved to beautiful Clove Valley in Duchess County, NY where Roger and Grace lived for the next 45 years. They retired to Milford, MA in 2013 where Roger continued to paint fine art, exhibiting in art shows and galleries.

After moving to Milford, Roger became a member of the Wellesley Society of Artists in Wellesley, MA. Roger truly loved the art world; paintings, artists, art museums, and galleries. Early in their relationship, Roger informed Grace, “Art is my life,” and it was!

Roger is survived by his wife Grace of 66 years (born in Bethel CT), his daughter Beth Krebs and her husband Michael of Sherborn, MA and his son Matthew Kastel and his wife Karen of Monrovia, MD. Roger was the proud grandfather of Jessica and Glen Krebs and Luke and Grant Kastel as well as his great-grandson Liam Kirk-Krebs. Roger is also survived by several nieces, great-nieces, and great-nephews.

In lieu of flowers his family requests donations to The Artists’ Fellowship, Inc., 47 Fifth Ave. New York, NY 10003. One of Roger’s favourite charities, The Artists’ Fellowship, Inc. is a charitable organisation that assists professional artists in times of emergency, disability, or bereavement.

Roger Kastel, born 11th June 1931, died 8th November 2023 at age 92

Official Site: | Buy his art

Further Tributes



Covers sourced online, including gallery collections by Leo Boudreau and Steve Wallace

Categories: Art and Illustration, downthetubes News, Features, Film, Obituaries, Other Worlds, Star Wars

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1 reply


  1. Roger Kastel: 1931 to 2023 – In My Not So Humble Opinion

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