While over 1,000 bands and countless more fans and industry insiders have descended upon Austin for this year’s South By Southwest, more than 75 of the country’s best screenprinters and gig poster artists are also gathering there for the largest poster convention in the country, Flatstock.
Organized by the nascent American Poster Institute in 2002, Flatstock has grown to a tri-annual event in recent years and by now, on the eve of Flatstock 16, has clearly established itself as the gold standard in the exhibition of contemporary gig poster art. Yet it remains a mysterious piece of the SXSW puzzle to many. My neighbor on the flight down inquired about the two poster tubes jutting out of my backpack. Although he’s been to Austin going on four years, he had no idea anything like Flatstock existed. The sheer number of beautiful gig posters and art prints that will be on display at the Austin Convention Center this week are likely to change all that.
Read on for more on Flatstock and the complete artists exhibitor list, but first the details:
Jay Ryan – Flatstock 16
Flatstock posters — which are gig posters advertising the convention and meant to be hung around town to get the word out — are still a central feature of the show. Jay Ryan was one of the first to post his Flatstock poster, a dynamic image depicting a delivery truck (possibly Geoff Peveto’s of The Decoder Ring?) coming to an untimely demise at the base of a telephone pole. Perhaps it’s Jay’s way of expressing his anxiety about his posters arriving in Austin on time, or his frustration with the inevitable hassle and predicament of shipping posters across the country. Although best known for his wonderful animal imagery, Ryan can instill any subject matter with life and energy.
Daniel Danger – Flatstock 16
Daniel Danger’s Flatstock 16 poster also has the makings of a classic. One tradition in Flatstock posters is that of the inside joke, which can be so obscure the poster will hold no real interest to the common buyer. Daniel transcends that with a send up of an iconic Jermaine Rogers Radiohead poster. His print nevertheless contains numerous visual jokes, along with likenesses of some of Drymount!’s favorite artists, including Rob Jones, Leia Bell, Jay Ryan, Tara McPherson and Frank Kozik. The poster neatly illustrates Daniel’s incredible but also maddening year — a year that saw his popularity skyrocket, and the difficulties that have come with dealing with ever more rabid collectors.
Aaron Horkey – Init Fest 2008
Many artists also release new posters to the public at Flatstock. One that is sure to be on a number of must-buy lists is Aaron Horkey’s latest masterpiece. Designed for Init Fest 2008, Horkey’s turkey/buffalo image seems at first glance like one of his simpler images (compare it to his last poster for Genghis Tron, for instance). But look at the meticulous detail in the way the grass, feathers, and mountains in the background are rendered. You can be sure these will look incredible in person thanks to the printing expertise at Burlesque of North America.
Crosshair – Flatstock 16
Flatstock offers a wonderful opportunity to talk with the artists about the craft, learn more about their influences and what bands and whose art is inspiring them. You can also learn more about the medium of screenprinting from master squeegee puller Andy MacDougall, who will be printing all weekend (see our interview with Andy about this year’s printing demos). With all the amazing music showcases, interesting panels, BBQ and Mexican food, any SXSW-goer’s schedule is going to be jammed, but I’d encourage everyone to stop by Flatstock.
Dan Grzeca – Flatstock 16
Complete Flatstock Exhibitor List:
Burlesque of North America
Delicious Design Leauge
DWITT: All Purpose Illustration
Hammerpress Letterpress and Design
Happy Goblin Press
Hero Design Studio
Heroes & Villains
Isle of Printing
John Howard / Monkeyink
Methane Studios, Inc
Mexican Chocolate Design
My Associate Cornelius
Obsolete Industries Inc
Plastic Flame Press
Powerslide Design Co
Sandusky Bay Poster Works
Seattle Show Posters
South Austin Museum of Popular Culture
Tara McPherson Illustration
The Bird Machine, Inc.
The Decoder Ring Design Concern
The Small Stakes
Zachary Hobbs Design