Rock Art Wednesday
Posted by T Rex on January 2, 2008
For the first Rock Art Wednesday of 2008 is an artist who’s work I was recently turned onto by Gregg Gordon, one of our previous Wednesday artists. This week’s resides on the west coast and designs for some of the greatest venues (in my opinion), Great American Music Hall, The original Fillmore and The Warfield out in SF. I instantly became a fan and took the opportunity to learn as much as I could about his work. You rarely see 3-D concert posters and his Dandy Warhols poster is simply awesome. I welcome John Howard of Monkey Ink to Runaway Dinosaur who was kind to spend some time and answer our questions.
How long have you been making posters and how did you get started?
My first poster was in 1994. I was between jobs at the time and I
didn’t want to continue in the direction that my so-called resume was
pulling me, so I decided to try to make up my perfect job, start doing
it, and see if anyone paid me.
I was lucky enough that a friend of a friend of my girlfriend at the
time was tour manager for a great show that was coming to town that
March. The Breeders, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and The faith
Healers. I faxed some drawings along and Kim Deal picked one of them…
I couldn’t believe it.
The night of the show we didn’t really know what to do, so my
girlfriend and I sat outside the Warfield and tried to sell posters to
people heading in to the show. We sold one. It turned out that it was
sold to Judah Bauer, guitar player for JSBX. Later, when the Blues
explosion hit the stage… Judah still had the poster in his hand and
was trying to show it to Jon, who was too pumped up to really notice
until it was in his own hand. He looked at it like WTF is THIS?
Threw it down and Boom! ripped into an ExPloSive set.
That night back stage I found out that the venue was run by Bill
Graham Presents, of Fillmore poster fame, and that they strictly
controlled posters made for their venues. The next day I went to BGP
to turn myself in for making bootleg posters and met Jerry Pompili who
asked the Art Director, Arlene, to give me a shot at making legit
What is your favorite poster you’ve designed?
It’s always the one that I’m working on at the time, but if I really
had to choose, a short list could include Roky Erickson, Halloween;
Queens of the Stone Age, Amsterdam; Melvins/Flipper, Glasgow; Summer
of Love 40th; and the Dandy Warhols already mentioned.
What’s it like working with BGP? How often do they commission you for
posters? Are you able to choose which acts you design for?
BGP has an art director who picks the poster artist for the particular
show. I think I did two Fillmore posters last year. Working with BGP
is cool because of their history and the fact that they take care of
everything… you just send them the art and get paid. But that can
also be a downside because you don’t get to work with the
band/management, control the printing, or own the final art.
It’s all give and take and there are infinite arrangements for getting
a poster done. If the art strikes a chord, there is usually an
arrangement that makes everybody happy.
How do you get the 3-D effect with the silkscreen process?
Good question. I’ve always been fascinated by visual tricks including
anaglyphic 3-D, so when I saw the Dandy Warhols had done their website
in 3-D, I had a great excuse to try to make the poster 3-D, as well!
The theory is simple. When viewing the image with red/blue glasses,
the red lens shows the blue dot as black and the red dot as white and
the blue lens shows the blue red as black and the blue dot as white.
The brain is fooled into believing that the black dot seen by each eye
is the same dot, which leads the brain to calculate the dots position
as shown in these examples.
1 the dot appears to float above the paper
2 they overlap and appear on the surface
3 shift the other way dots appear below the surface
Of course, in application a simple theory can quickly become a full-on
mind bending puzzle… which was a blast to work out. My main concern
was to have the poster work as well without the glasses as with.
Besides the red and blue there are three additional colors which
were chosen to enhance the poster without undermining the 3-D effect.
Can you tell me a little about TRPS Festival of Rock Posters that you
were part of?
The Rock Poster Society is a volunteer army of poster art enthusiasts
who put on poster shows in San Francisco that include rock art legends
from the 60’s and new artists, too. Their regular shows are in the
summer at Fort Mason and in the fall at the Hall of Flowers, but they
are also involved in events like The 40th Anniversary of the Summer of
Love last year. A great bunch of folks who really care about the art,
the artists, and the fans.
What are you currently working on?
Queens of the Stone Age is being printed and High On Fire is on the
To see all John’s work visit his site here.