Like every other kid, I dreamed of going to San Francisco with, ya know, flowers in my hair. It was all the poster and album art coming out of there. They spoke to me of peace, happiness and being able to be who I was versus who the teachers insisted on and fellow students accepted. This was also a kind of art I’d never seen before, My parents favored the impressionists — lovely of course but so awfully tame.
The rock art out of San Francisco was wild, brilliant, exhilarating and soul sparking. I didn’t know the artist's names then but they inspired me massively. They still do.
I recall my eighth grade art teacher, a dull old sot (though probably just in his early 30s) — the very antithesis of inspiration, nastily dissing me and my efforts while I drew a large intricately elaborate design kindled by what I’d managed to see in mags. He made some remark about my work being a waste of time. When I just shrugged at him and went back to pen surfing the poster board, he insinuated that I might be mentally defective.
I ignored him for the rest of the year and just did my thing. He did the same.
Years later Kevin introduced me to the mind blowing Gustav Klimt who seemed to mebbe be the daddy, the grandfather of psychedelic art. From there I found Egon Schiele, Oscar Kokoschka, George Grosz and so many more amazing rip-yur-head-clean-off brill painters.
These, naturally, led to sculptors — Maillol, Botero, Beth Cavener Stichter, Jaume Plensa, Jim Dine and, and... well, you get the idea.
Clearly the late ‘60s rock poster artists were my gateway drug to the big heavies.
Why is this on my mind this morning? Last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I found this article on Boing Boing: When Art Rocked: San Francisco Music Posters, 1966-1971
Not only does the article speak of the fabola artists, author Ben Marks credits the printers that brought their work to life. WOW and boy-howdy, this lifelong print-worker was blown away!
Many of the artists working between 1966 and 1971, talented though they were, did not know the first thing about offset lithography, the dominant printing technique of the day. In this light, the unsung heroes of San Francisco’s rock-poster scene may have been the printers.Lemme just say this...WOW and thank you Mister Marks!
most poster artists of the era had no formal training in the printing techniques used to disseminate their work. As a result, career pressmen were often unsigned collaborators, teaching artists how to get the most out of a medium they absolutely had to understand if they were going to make it as poster artists.