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How Were 1960s Posters Designs Conceived?
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How Were 1960s Posters Designs Conceived?

Originally intended as cheap promotional bills pasted to telephone poles, 1960s posters designs became electric, outrageous, rebellious equivalents to the music they advertised. Who knew it would become so extensive, broader, richer and hang in modern museums today. This would be the development of a new genre of art: the psychedelic rock poster.

Wes Wilson - Psychedelic Rock Poster Artist

Wes Wilson would work for Bill Graham and Chet Helms (Fillmore West and Avalon ballroom owners) His posters designs would differ for each employer. Chet Helms would act more as an art director and would feed themes to Wilson to incorporate into the posters. This would include culturally relevant images, new graphic techniques and juxtaposing color for an untraditional effect. (Many times using the color studies of Joseph Albert's and figure–ground reversal effects)

Bill Graham's posters designs would concentrate on Wilson's proficient stylistic lettering style. (Which as we've mentioned in earlier posts, were inspired by turn-of-the-century graphic designer Alfred Roller.) Actually Wilson was famous for his lettering style which was emulated by many other rock poster artists of the day.

Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley - Psychedelic Rock Poster Artists

Mouse & Kelley were the kings of borrowing historic sources (from the library no less!) to incorporate into their posters designs. The "skeleton & roses" Grateful Dead poster is one of the most iconic. It was created using an obsolete rare nineteenth century etching. It is also one of the highest valued & most sought after posters by collectors.

Rick Griffin and Victor Moscoso - Psychedelic Rock Poster Artists

Griffin and Moscoso worked a little differently than the rest. When musicians do an informal get together and play their instruments it's called a jam session. Well, that's what Griffin and Moscoso would call it when they collaborated on projects. Jam sessions are well known for being very improvisational and off the fly.

One of the first posters they created together was a total fluke. The lettering was purposely drawn so it advertised and said nothing at all. I believe Griffin was making a statement or joke about how far out and illegible the text had gotten on psychedelic posters. It turned out to be a classic piece of art from that era. Creative mistakes turn into iconic works of art - that later hang in museums.

All of the above psychedelic poster artists were part of what they called “The Big Five”. They were considered to be the best. Also, from these artists came some of the most iconic posters from this era.


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