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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.

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By Andy MacDougall

Some designers, like Gary Houston of in Portland, OR, enjoy the tactile feel of the squeegee in the ink and screen printing's immediate and self-contained nature. He is an old-school poster maker, whose intricate and beautifully printed designs are, for the most part, cut using Rubylith. He stays mechanically simple by choice, comfortable with his manual setup and basic work area. The sale of only a few of his classic prints could buy a nice automatic, but he prefers using his hands for maximum control. He explains his philosophy on screen printing this way: "The fabric on a screen is like life. Sometimes it rips easily, or sometimes it lasts a long time."

Andy Stern, who runs Diesel Fuel Prints, a full-service shop that prints T-shirts, stickers, and posters for many of the artists, started in screen printing 22 years ago. "Back in my punk-rock youth, it was the only way to get something on the back of your jacket. There was a huge DIY movement in D.C. back in those days, so learning the craft seemed to be the only way," he recalls. "I love the smell of the ink, especially when slathered all over my body. One of my friend's older siblings introduced screen printing to us. Really I just do posters for fun to take my mind off normal everyday production."

"In my opinion, screen printing is the most effective medium for rock posters," says Michael Hammond, a printer from Pasadena, CA. "I started out making digital offset posters and they didn't have the tactile feel of screen-printed posters. After exhibiting digital posters at my first Flatstock, and then seeing all the great screen printing by the other artists, I went home and signed up for a screen-printing course the next day. I've now got a semiautomatic crammed into my studio. I really enjoy the process of screen printing in that the end result is made completely by my hand. It is much more like painting than computer-generated posters," he says.

Flatstock: The ultimate poster show


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