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Who Made The Original Rock Posters?
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Who Made the Original Rock Posters?

It's kind of an open question. Because original rock posters could have come from various sources depending on your perspective. If you consider rock concerts as "events" then events posters go back a few centuries. Rock and Roll only came about in the early 1950's. So obviously, "rock show" posters would only begin at that point in time. But, it is interesting to observe the relationship of the 1890's posters and the rock (and events) posters of the 50's, 60' and even 70's.

I would even go so far as to say that modern artists of the late 1800's were "rock stars" of the day. Also, it is interesting that the posters created through this period advertised many musical events, as well. So, were these pieces the original rock posters? Certainly, after close examination, the poster artists from the 1960's borrowed many styles from the old masters like Toulouse-Lautrec and Alfred Roller, just to name a few.

As we research this - you see events evolving into more than mere rock shows. Many had a theme of a higher conscientiousness, a purpose or benefit involved, especially through the 60's.

Old Masters Designers & Poster Artists

Who is a fan of artists like Gustav Klimt, Alfred Roller, Koloman Moser ? If you love psychedelic posters from the 1960s, then you certainly are. (realizing it or not!) These artists were part of a "turn of the century" movement called the Vienna Secession. The movement protested the status quo of traditionalism & conservative concepts of art. It was to be their form of Art Nouveau (new art). The influence of the Vienna Secession to the 1960s psychedelic artists is obvious after viewing posters and graphic design from that era.

Early Rock Posters

The earliest concert posters that promoted rock were hardly revolutionary. As a matter of fact they owed much to advertising art associated with carnivals, circuses, vaudeville, minstrel shows, Grand-Ole-Opry style country music and even big band jazz. For printers, it was an easy transition to promote rock 'n roll into these old designs for telephone poles and window cards. They were not intentionally beautiful. (As the later posters of the 60s). They were functional objects with unsophisticated design. However, they were a symbol of an earlier more innocent era of rock 'n roll and could be considered the original rock posters.

The Seed Poster

“The Seed” is a poster By George Hunter and Michael Ferguson for The Charlatans performance at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada (circa 1965). This poster is considered to promote a new lifestyle and new music and funky graphic style never seen before. It is called "The Seed" because it seems to be the precursor of what would become “the psychedelic rock poster”.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” So, where did original rock posters begin? Was it with the rock star poster artists from the 19th Century? Or was it when rock music morphed into multifaceted avenues of creativity and the posters had no choice but to following suit?


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