We’re starting today off with a new column on the site, and we’re welcoming on a new blogger to the team named Sam Verrill. He approached me with an idea to do some posts on the concert posters that tons of bands are starting to sell at their live shows, and I thought that sounded like a good way to feature some new content on the site. Plus, I’m pretty sure art is cool and stuff, or so I’ve heard. LMB, meet Sam. Sam, meet LMB.
Welcome to Drymount, a recurring column I’ll be writing for the Live Music Blog covering posters and related art in the gig poster community.
I was always a t-shirt buying concert goer. I’d try to pick up a tour shirt at almost every show I’d go to because, let’s face it, I liked wearing my musical tastes on my sleeve. But Pearl Jam helped introduce me to the wide world of gig posters. How great to be able to buy relatively inexpensive art featuring my favorite bands. It must have touched a collecting chord with me because I was quickly consumed by the whole scene. I quickly went from buying posters only to shows I saw to buying posters to any bands I liked. Pretty soon, I became drawn by the art itself, and I’m now ready to buy anything with a beautiful craft and design.
In 2007, I took my first steps towards contributing to the community. I organized the first annual Screens ‘N’ Spokes art show to benefit the National MS Society’s City to Shore Bike Tour. 20 fantastic artists created amazing, bike inspired posters for the show in Philadelphia. Hopefully this column will get me more involved and I’m hoping to convert a few of you. I’ll be reporting on recent trends, the art of screenprinting, the American Poster Institute’s Flatstock conventions, noteworthy poster series and introductions to other areas of the web for more info. I’ll also be doing interviews with artists to give you more insight into their background, influences and process.
But I wanted to start the year with a look back at 2007. For me it was a great year for gig art with tons of gorgeous work printed, and since it’s the season for top ten lists, I decided to compile my own…
So without further ado, welcome to the wonderful world of gig posters and enjoy a look back at 2007…
Drymount’s Top 10 Prints of 2007 (Click the images for the larger flyouts)
10. The National – Hero Design Studio
Gig posters started out as flyers, tacked to phone posts and pasted on scaffolding. Their job was to catch your eye, pique your interest and tell you what bands were coming to town. Sure, you’ll see more technically skillful or aesthetically beautiful posters elsewhere, but I love this poster. It very well may be Hero’s take on the Cincinnati Red’s mascot Mr. Red, but he reminds me of my beloved Mr. Met, and if I saw this hanging in a window, I’d want to know more. Hero Design put out a bunch of great posters this year (check out their posters for the Soulsavers, really excellent), but for me this is a fun, simple gig poster, executed perfectly.
9. Roaming – Dan McCarthy
This is McCarthy on steroids. Given out for free(!) to the first 50 people who bought his ’07/’08 print of the month subscription, the rest are going for $100 on his website. It is a gorgeous print, featuring classic McCarthy images like dinosaurs, snow-capped mountains, and starry nights all together in a colossal horizontal print. While known more for his art prints than his gig posters, Dan did put out two great gig posters this year. But this is my choice for his best of the year. The poster itself is huge, but the dino gives it a great sense of scale, and, another classic McCarthy touch, the beautiful night sky glows in the dark.
8. Pearl Jam, Dusseldorf – Brad Klausen
Pearl Jam are the reason I collect posters, so I would be remiss not to include one in this year end list, even in a year they didn’t tour much. Still, Brad Klausen printed up this poster for their show in Dusseldorf that I think stands next to some of the great PJ posters of all time. 2007 also saw the launch of Brad’s long awaited website. Despite the warts, it is great to finally have a way to buy Brad’s art directly from the artist.
7. Anti Landmark – Crosshair
Dan MacAdam, aka Crosshair, makes amazing screen prints. His ability to take a photograph and reproduce it with just a few colors has to be seen to be believed, and this year he took it to the next level. I heard one person describe it as though he raised the resolution of his screen prints, and I think that sums it up pretty well. This art print, released by Coudal partners, is my favorite that I have seen so far, but it’s possible that his Wilco posters or Flatstock Europe poster could take the prize when I see those.
6. The Decemberists – Daniel Danger
It was a great year for Decemberists posters and it was an especially good year for Decemberists Whale posters (see pick #3). Whales have been a big visual element for Colin Meloy and co., ever since “The Mariner’s Revenge Song,” but here Daniel Danger gives his unique take on the motif. It was a big year for DD as well. Gorgeous prints pulled from his paintings (There’s Nothing Out There…, We Were Fortunate, Ghost Ship) had plenty of buzz and all sold out nearly instantly, but for my money this was DD’s best gig poster this year. Like much of DD’s work, it’s a solemn but beautiful piece.
5. The Arcade Fire – Burlesque of North America
It was also a banner year for Arcade Fire posters, thanks to their excellent tour supporting Neon Bible. They had the folks at Burlesque of North America create their prints once again, with Wes Winship designing this beautiful series. Of the 12 posters AF poster Wes did this year, the West Coast tour takes the cake for me. It’s an amazingly layered and textured print, and considering I saw Arcade Fire play in a church this year, the Gothic Cathedral hits home. The fact that the fireflies glow in the dark? Icing on the cake.
4. The White Stripes, Birmingham – Rob Jones
Is Rob Jone’s work for the White Stripes iconic because of the band’s image? Or is the band’s image iconic because of Rob Jone’s art? its a classic chicken and egg question, and one I don’t have an answer for. One thing I do know is the poster world gets pretty excited whenever Jack and Meg go on tour, because means a whole slew of amazing red, white and black posters. The Icky Thump tour was no different, but Rob’s poster for the Birmingham gig is my vote as his best of the year. As an image the bow of that boat is massive, but it’s in the details where I really love this poster. If you look closely you can spot Jack and Meg ready to board, complete with drum kit and guitar.
3. The Decemberists – Emek
Like I said, 2007 was extremely generous to Decemberist poster fans. The Richard Goodall Gallery in Manchester, England organized two series of posters for the Decemberists’ two European tours. This poster, by the renowned artist Emek, definitely created the most buzz. Featuring a massive whale, Emek’s take highlights his intense attention to detail in the amazing line work in the rendering of the beast, the clouds and the trees. The windmill in the background hearkens back to Emek’s previous work in Amsterdam for Wilco, and ties the poster to the Netherlands.
2. Neil Young – Todd Slater
This year Texas-based poster artist Todd Slater began experimenting with mosaics to impressive effect. He released an Elvis Costello poster where he built Elvis’ portrait out of silver and gold diamonds. A stunning poster for the Rolling Roadshow viewing of James Bond movie Goldfinger featured Sean Connery made out of gold bricks. But the culmination of this experiment was Todd’s last poster of the year, an amazing print for Neil Young inspired by the famous song Cortez the Killer. The level of detail on this looks amazing, and it sold out in seconds.
1. Screens ‘N’ Spokes – Jay Ryan
Admittedly I am extremely biased when it comes to this poster. This year I organized the first Screens ‘N’ Spokes show, a series of posters raising money for the National MS Society. Chicago-based gig-poster icon Jay Ryan designed this amazing piece for the show. But I fully believe it stands on its own as one of the best posters of the year. Jay’s signature animals are there in all their glory, riding to the finish line. In person the poster truly pops. The printing by Jay’s print shop The Bird Machine is fantastic: the colors are vibrant against the dark blue paper, which is the start of the artist’s self-declared departure from his old standby of manila. Simply put, I think it’s one of Jay’s finest works, and it’s my choice for poster of the year.
Looking forward to 2008,