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What Makes A Concert Poster Graphic Design Great?
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What Makes A Concert Poster Graphic Design Great?

Concert poster graphic design was probably at its peak from around 1962–1972. Not since Toulouse-Lautrec in 1860 had poster art been so popular. This new poster art was very well done. Many of these same posters from the 60s hang in modern museums to this day. It is due to the artists who were trying to make better and better works in this poster medium.

It may have started out (concert posters) as little sketches to advertise a party or dance. But, as the venues (like the Avalon Ballroom or Fillmore West) got larger, the concert poster graphic design became bolder, colorful, and more expertly executed. Many times you can see the resemblance of the 60s posters to the old masters in Paris 100 years ago.

Wes Wilson - Concert Poster Artist

How likely is it that a forest ranger and Korean War veteran would become a rock poster artist immersed in the Haight-Ashbury hippie scene during the mid-60s? Well that's what happened, almost. Wes Wilson actually studied forestry and horticulture before anything. Nature is what he was interested in most. However, to support his family he went to work for Contact Printing and became quite a good artist.

His influence from Alfred Roller (1908) can not be under estimated. Many times great concert poster graphic design is borrowed from the masters. Wilson would borrow Rollers exaggerated lettering style and use of fluid forms from other Vienna Secessionists, as well. Wes Wilson has been called the “pioneer of the psychedelic poster” partly through his interpretations of these styles.

Victor Moscoso - Fine Artist Turned Rock Poster Artist

I would say that Victor Moscoso was the most schooled of all the concert poster artists in the day. Though many were educated in art, Moscoso's goal was to be a fine artist not a commercial artist. However, through his studies he would discover the work of Josef Albers. Albers's style lent itself to extreme theories on color and vibrating color. This would reveal itself later in many of Victor Moscoso's psychedelic concert posters.

Just through these couple of examples you can see concert poster graphic design comes from many sources. The poster artists all learned from each other and later there seemed to be a particular style or stream of continuity (especially to the San Francisco posters). You could identify with them immediately and feel you were part of the "Human Be-In" (or) an event at Golden Gate Park or the "Summer of Love". Great concert poster graphic design was so well done through this period, you could really imagine being there.


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