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Rebirth of the Screen-Printed Concert Poster

(February 2005) posted on Mon Feb 14, 2005

Read on to find out how a new generation of designers and printers have taken concert posters from the promotional realm into the world of collectible fine art.


By Andy MacDougall

click an image below to view slideshow

We all know about Sara Serigraph, the darling debutante daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Silkscreen. She's a creature of rare beauty, elegant with expensive tastes, and found only in the company of better galleries, art societies, and true connoisseurs of the printed form.

This tale, however, is about Sara's long-lost brother, Johnny Gigposter, who ran off and joined a rock n' roll tour that passed through town when he was just a kid. Johnny spent his formative years skating, surfing, and hanging out with punk, metal, and grunge bands and experimenting with illicit art in the form of concert flyers. He was run out of Seattle, Austin, and other cities by the poster police, but he somehow managed to not only survive, but also to develop some awesome artistic talent along the way. And now the prodigal poster boy has returned to claim his place in the mainstream art world, squeegees dripping multicolored ink like a new-age gunslinger in all his Day-Glo glory.

Okay, that may be laying it on a bit thick, but those of you who've been stopped dead on the street by a poster advertising some band or concert event, sporting a design that grabs your eyeballs and doesn't let go, you know what I'm talking about. Rock concert posters--gigposters, in the vernacular--are an imaginative, visual representation of a band, its music, or both, but not usually in a literal sense. These aren't just offset-printed photos of the artist with some type on the side for a teenybopper's bedroom wall. Leave that for the mass-marketed pop stars. Today's modern rock posters are original works of limited-edition art (Figure 1).

Gigposters showcase the creative artist/printmaker's skills in illustration, design, and cartooning, mixed in with computer savvy and, often, old-fashioned graphic ability, including hand lettering and killer ruby-cutting talent. Some are printed digitally, some offset, some letterpress, but most are screen printed, either by the artist or a printer who specializes in the form. The lowly music poster has transcended its original purpose, which was to attract, inform, and then motivate the viewer to go to the gig. It now has become collectible art.


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