Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gig Posters

The small stakes - Mates of State

The music industry offers vast and colourful opportunities for the graphic designer. Musicians need websites, album covers and booklets, publications, promotional items and t-shirts etc in order to promote and advertise their music. My favourite little piece of music industry design is the gig poster which is a supportable, affordable source of art that reflects our culture, aesthetic leanings and tastes.

Mark Clay - Wilco 2007
Generally speaking, gig posters are first and foremost a do-it-yourself movement, largely limited to hand-driven, low tech processes such as silk-screening. I find something comforting about these lovingly rendered prints that seem so beautifully handmade and yet can be put into limited production or mass-produced.

Gig posters differ from other types of music industry design because they are designed to be viewed by people on the go. They must grab people's attention and quickly convey key information. A poster needs to reflect the event and the performers whilst remaining easy to read.

This topic is so vast that I need to centre in on one area for my essay. Some of the possible options are:-

Gig Poster History.

Grateful Dead, 1967 Jefferson Airplane 1967

There is a rich and varied history to gig posters which wouldn't really begin until the 1960's with the San Francisco music and cultural scene. This bought forth bands such as the grateful dead, Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother amongst many others. The advertisement of this movement nurtured many artists and gig posters became an artwork all of their own. To trace the development of gig posters from the 60's until now would give me quite a project, but to what end I wonder?

Emek - Mars Volta 2008
Emek has had a long career in gig poster design and, alhough I'm not drawn to all of his work (too much neon and skeletons for my liking) it does cover a reasonable time frame to reflect certain trends and developments.

Contemporary Gig Posters.
Maybe it is better to look at what is happening now. It seems as though the gig poster movement is gaining momentum at the moment with many exhibitions throughout the world focusing on the once humble gig poster. It is truly being recognised as a worthy art form of its own and many graphic designers and artists focus on gig posters as their main creative outlet. It could be interesting to look at the overall styles of our current time, perhaps by looking at specific gig poster artist and studios.

Doublenaught - Broken Social Scene 2006
I could write an essay focused only on Broken Social Scenes gig posters - there are so many and they are all so beautiful.

Gigart - Josh Ritter 2009
Gigart are a design company centered entirely aoung the music industry, covering many record labels and music publications and creating a vast array of different styles of work.

Spike Press - Vampire Weekend

Delicious Design League - Animal Collective

The Small Stakes - Modest Mouse

Clinton Reno 2005

Gig poster Plagiarism.

Bob Gill (1962); Concert Poster (2009)

On a more specific topic, there is a large amount of post modern references to past art in contemporary gig poster art - but when does it cross over from post modern reference into out and out plagiarism?

Saul Bass Movie Poster (1965); A Concert Poster (2003)
Is it better to refer to a past artwork in an blatant way - such as Shepard Fairey, who has been criticized for barely changing on the originals -

or as a vague reference, merely hinting at another's work to those in the know? eg "half banana, half woman" by Rafal Olbinski, 1982 and Scrojo, 2002.

Is this homage or plagiarism?

"Art is either plagiarism or revolution."
--Paul Gauguin. Well, thanks Paul but personally I'm not sure I'm up for a revolution! What's a bit of plagiarism between friends? Especially if it's done in a clever, tongue in cheek way.

So many topic options, so unlikely to choose a favourite! One things for sure, there will be alot of pictures in my final report.

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