The biggest rock poster show to hit the East Coast in a long while kicks off next Wednesday, February 6th. Sweet: The Graphic Beauty of the Contemporary Rock Poster opens at the University of Maryland Art Gallery with a number of cool opportunities.
First and foremost is the official opening of a show featuring such poster luminaries as Rob Jones, Burlesque of North America, Jay Ryan, Todd Slater, Strawberryluna and a host of other amazing talents. Not only does the show feature beautiful posters, but there is also a site-specific installation by Jesse LeDoux, “display[ing] the versatility of the screen printing technique.” As well as unique signage designed by Philadelphia artist Tim Gough.
But perhaps more exciting for the collectors among us is Sweet Booth, an all day poster fair, with contributing artists selling their wares. Artists appearing at Sweet Booth include Mike King, Patent Pending, Guy Burwell, Strawberryluna, Hero Design and Tim Gough.
Follow the jump for an interview with show curator John Shipman and a complete listing of the artists involved.
Drymount! – Where did the idea for Sweet come from? Have you been a fan of Rock Posters for a long time?
John Shipman – I had not been a fan of rock posters for a long time (I am 110% a fan, ardent supporter, and collector now, though). I had seen a few here and there in the magazines or online at someplace like Juxtapoz.com and such, and I always checked them out but didn’t give them too much thought, so to speak. Then Beautiful Decay ran a story on Dutch artist Zeloot (I tried to get her for this show, but it didn’t pan out unfortunately) and her rock posters and I was blown away! I thought to myself, what beautiful work as art, combined with a great sense of design. Then I started really digging around on the web and seeing what I could find for other artists and I was constantly pleasantly surprised to find more and more artists/designers/illustrators (I’ve since learned that they all call themselves something different) that were making really impressive posters.
So, as I was finding these artists, I realized I was drawn especially to the ones that were doing posters that had a good sense of design (there are some great posters out there with bad design) and posters that were screenprinted, not offset or letterpress. I thought, hey, thats a good basis for a show.
Now, as a little aside, I got the title for the show directly from gigposters.com’s forums. Every time an artist would post a new poster, everybody else would chime in, “Sweet!” – seemed like a great name to me! I also lifted “graphic beauty” from someone’s post as well.
DM – I know you curated the show with Justin Strom, a University of Maryland printmaking professor. How did you select the artists for the show? By region? Style? Did you take submissions?
JS – After getting Justin on board, we both just dug around the web for different artists and we came up with our lists, which we then crossed to see what matches we had, and then we went from there. I also had the chance to go to Austin to Flatstock last year, and in Austin I had the great fortune of meeting almost everyone that ended up in the show. This was actually very important because I got to see the work in person as opposed to viewing it online (I was very impressed), and while meeting the artists I realized that this was hands down the nicest, easiest to get along with, non-pretentious group of artists I had ever had the opportunity to work with… I was hooked. My wife and I became collectors on the spot, and in my own way I vowed to find a way to make the gig poster and these wonderful artists get a little more attention.
We did not ask for submissions.
DM – I’m curious as to how you are displaying the posters. Screenprinted rock posters, in my mind, reside in the gray area between fine art (what you might see in a museum) and advertisement, and in shows I’ve seen the display has run the gamut from framed and matted to stuck on a wall with clips. How do you view the medium, and did that influence your thinking on how to display them?
JS – I do understand how you say they are in that gray area, but that is precisely why I wanted to do this show. I think, especially after seeing the work up close, that these posters are art in every sense of the word. Looking at a poster from Burlesque, there is no doubt!
With that in mind however, when I was in Austin I talked with the artists about there feelings on the matter of displaying there work and they almost all unanimously agreed that they did not like to see posters framed. They became “precious” at that point. The artists seemed to like the immediacy of the posters directly on the wall, exactly as a poster should be seen. Agreeing with them, I tried to find a good way to display them without using bull-clips or cords or something like that. So, I got Amazing Magnets (an excellent firm) to donate 1500 magnets so all the posters will be displayed very cleanly with magnets. I must admit, it looks great.
DM – Six of the exhibiting artists submitted designs to be printed by the students at Maryland. How did that collaboration end up going?
JS – The 6 artist donated designs for a promotional poster for the exhibition (four of them are pictured here). Justin’s class printed them in a special winter session class and it went fantastic! The posters look great, and what was really fantastic about the whole process was how Justin used the experience magnificently as a teaching tool. The students seemed very jazzed not only about the whole process, but they got very excited about the show, Sweet Booth and getting the chance to meet the artists. It was, in all honesty, a great success for the show and for the university. The posters will be for sale to help raise funds for the exhibition and its continuing expenses.
DM – Not only did you set up the exhibition, but there is also a lecture by John Foster, one of the participating artists, and Sweet Booth, an all-day poster-fair featuring a number of the exhibiting artists. What part of the entire Sweet experience are you most looking forward to.
JS – I’m looking forward to seeing these fantastic artists getting more exposure for the work they do – they deserve it. I also want this area to become more aware of this type of work – I find that almost everyone who sees the work loves it.
DM – I know Jesse LeDoux has created a site-specific piece in the gallery, and the Tim Gough designed all the signage for the show. I also know those designs are under lock and key. Can you give us any hints as to what visitors can expect?
JS – The visitors can expect some complete bad-assery in all terms art and design. The two of them are DEFINITELY on top of their games with these.
February 6, 2008: Opening Day
Sweet Booth – 11:00am – 7:30pm
Opening Reception – 5:00 – 7:00pm
Art/Sociology Building Atrium, University of Maryland
33RPM, Aesthetic Apparatus, Animal Rummy, Anthony Diehle, Budai, Burlesque, Cricket Press, Dan Stiles, Decoder Ring, Delicious Design, Diana Sudyka, El Jefe Design, Galaxy Reno, Guy Burwell, Hero Design, Jay Ryan, John Foster, Large Mammal, Matt Terich, Mike King, Nelter Creative, Patent Pending, Sasha Barr, Small Stakes, SmithBellCraft, Strawberryluna, Tim Gough, and Todd Slater
33RPM Design, Patent Pending, Mike King, Hero Design, Strawberryluna, Cricket Press, Guy Burwell, Budai, Matt Terich, Tim Gough, SmithBellCraft, Galaxy Reno, Large Mammal, El Jefe Design, John Foster, Anthony Dihle