From the late sixties something occurred to an american generation that would mark them forever. It is a story of war, the struggle for racial equality and the explosion of counter culture, it was a time when a generation rebelled, and lost its innocence in the fight against injustice. Vietnam was the first ever televised war, and the images were inescapable.
A decade that ended with disillusionment and rage began on a moral high note.
There is so much to write about in this era, it is very difficult to select only one thing to concentrate on. Even though there’s an absurd amount of artwork and design that stems from this period of time. When we discuss the”sixties” all we seem to recognise is the music, psychedelic rock and artists such as Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix in particular.
Album art and festival posters nevertheless is a good place to start. One thing which appears to be re-occurring with most of the visual artists at the time is compared with”Underground Comix”. These depicted articles deemed unfit and prohibited to the more strict mainstream media.
When we look up group posters it’s hard to avoid finding a Grateful Dead poster somewhere, anywhere. He was an American performer and one of the leading designers of psychedelic posters in the 1960s. His work within the surfing subculture contained both film posters and his comic strip, Murphy.
Here he later became an instructor. He was among the first of the rock poster artists to utilize photographic collages in his artwork work.His art and poster work has continued up to the present and he is a major inspiration to rock poster and record illustrators for this day.
Another American artist creating a name for her self at the time was Bonnie MacLean. She was born in Philadelphia and graduated from the Penn State University in 1960. She then moved to New York where she worked in the Pratt Institute while attending drawing classes in the evenings. She later moved to San Francisco where she met and worked with a man named Bill Graham, who became famous as the promoter of rock concerts at the Fillmore Auditorium. There she worked alongside another artist by the name of Wes Wilson.
The aforementioned artist Wes Wilson was also one of the leading illustrators of psychedelic posters in the 1960’s. Working with Bill Graham and Bonnie MacLean, he had been a big part of promoting venues at the time together with posters and descriptive work for musicians and bands. The font and lettering of these posters from this era were created by him. He popularised this”psychedelic” font around 1966 that made the letters look like they were going or melting. This lettering is still used on newer records and art works for artists such as Foo Fighters, Kyuss Lives and The Queens of the Stone Age. This in turn proves the psychedelic movement is still affecting artists, especially in the area of metal, desert rock and stoner rock. The design is very much still alive as its own staple.
Modern poster styles:
Posters still influenced by the styles of art work can be traced through homages and inspirations in rock and metal posters from the present all the way back to this age. Several modern posters can be viewed on the web pages of Malleus Rock Art Lab if you ought to be interested. I personally find a lot of inspiration through their vision.