Though the psychedelic concert posters of the 1960s and 70s are among the most valuable and rare, the modern poster artists of the last few decades should not be overlooked. Recently, concert art has exploded, and hundreds of artists continue to create beautiful, collectible, original posters.
These posters aren’t necessarily used for advertising the same way as the ones in the ’60s and ’70s but are often designed specifically with collecting in mind. Most artists produce a limited number of posters for each event. As a result, that makes the ones you are able to get your hands on quite valuable. Taking a poster home with you from a show and hanging it on your wall allows you to fondly remember some of your favorite concerts and begin a beautiful collection of artwork. Though there are countless artists dedicated to the craft, here are 25 poster artists to help build your collection.
Firstly, Frank Kozik is oftentimes credited with having revived the art of the concert poster. He is perhaps one of the most renowned poster artists of the modern era. He’s created works for some of the most recognizable musical acts of the past several decades, such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam. His art style is known for being vibrantly colorful with unique, cartoonish graphics. Inspired by the underground punk scene, Kozik began creating posters in the mid-eighties. He’d make black and white flyers for his friends’ bands in Austin Texas and post them around the city on telephone poles.
As he gained recognition, he began to create the full-size silkscreen prints that he is known for. In 1995, Kozik ran his own record label called Man’s Ruin Records. This label was responsible for releasing the first Queens of the Stone Age single. Currently, he spends most of his time making toys.
Jason Austin and Lyman Hardy
This duo also hails from Austin Texas, and comes from the tradition of Xerox flyers. They focused mainly on post-punk and alternative rock of the late 80s. Early on, they mostly produced black and white flyers. When their budget allowed, they’d create full-sized silkscreen pieces. Austin described his primary art tools as being scissors, Q-tips, tape, and a copying machine. These simple items were used to create what might be described as chaotic collages. Some frequent themes in the artwork of Austin and Hardy are eyeballs, skulls, and naked women.
Lindsey Kuhn is one of the most accomplished screen printers in the history of rock art. Early in his career, he printed Frank Kozik’s art. Later, he began making his own gig posters. He eventually created his own company, SWAMP Co. Lastly, his work is inspired by punk rock and skateboarding, and often has a political edge to it.
Coop takes his influence from underground artists. He’d made a name for himself as one such artist early on in his career. His interest in science fiction, movies, and comics shapes his art style. Coop’s work makes use of various subjects including aliens, monsters, devils, and nude women. The “devil woman” is a common trope that appears on his posters. His work is crass and sometimes can be considered offensive, which might be off-putting to some. It is something in which Coop relishes, though.
Los Angeles-based artist Emek claims that his creative process for designing concert posters begins as soon as he hears the name of the band he’ll be working for. Generally, a concept will immediately pop into his head. His process is extremely technical, as he hand separates all his colors. This can involve hours of cutting separate overlays. His attention to detail is astounding and makes his artwork truly unique. Emek’s art is mostly hand-drawn. It takes quite a bit of inspiration from the psychedelic posters of the ’60s and ’70s as well as ’90s’ post-industrial iconography. He often employs social commentary and elements of fantasy as part of his poster art. Lastly, robots are a big theme in Emek’s work.
John Seabury is a musician, perhaps best known as the bassist for the pre-punk noise-pop band Psycotic Pineapple. He created posters for the band that featured a character called “Pyno Man”. These posters were generally snarky and offensive. Seabury brings obsessive attention to detail to his art, and his posters contain intricate line work as well as unique and bizarre portraiture.
San Francisco-based artist Chuck Sperry also began his career creating punk rock flyers in the 80’s. Later, In 1994, he joined fellow poster artists Ron Donovan and Orion Landau to create Psychic Sparkplug. This was a rock poster printing company, which reformed as Firehouse Kustom Rockart Company in 1997. His art style is very distinctive, and he’s a silkscreen master. He mainly creates portraits, and much of his more recent work is heavily focused on female portraits influenced by Greek Mythology.
Mark Arminsky has a diverse artistic background. He’s studied everything from printmaking, to stone lithography, to computer-generated art. He began to focus on creating concert posters in the mid-’90s. He hails from Detroit Michigan and some of his early poster art was for his hometown hero, Iggy Pop. This led him to become a renowned name among classic and area rock artists. Arminski’s style makes use of bold color schemes and strong central images. He almost always imposed them onto a narrow, vertical poster.
From a young age, Derek Hess was drawing art based around his favorite bands, including KISS, Aerosmith, and Cheap Trick. His love for heavy metal led him to start booking bands at a small club in his hometown of Cleveland. He soon found himself creating flyers for them. He only wanted to create promotional materials for the bands he liked. Hess believed that his art would be lacking if he didn’t care for the music. His art evolved from there, and he went on to create thousands of flyers and posters. The figures in his art tend to give viewers a feeling of struggle. This was something Hess wants to convey as a part of the post-punk generation. He describes his style as meant to imply something, rather than explicitly show something.
Jeff Wood designs his art to be especially collectible. He founded Drowning Creek Studio in Atlanta, which was actively creating posters from 1999 until 2013. The studio worked like a well-oiled machine of a business. It employed various artists to create drawings. Wood handled the rest of the process in collaboration with them. The end result is stunning, vibrant artwork, and is extremely detailed. These posters are filled with unique imagery and multicolored backgrounds. After ending Drowning Creek Studio, Wood began Zen Dragon Gallery, which continues to produce concert art. His work now is also very recognizable. He generally making use of darker colors and psychedelic fonts.
Seattle-based artist Art Chantry began designing posters in the early ’80s. His work took off during the post-punk period. He was one of the most important poster artists of the grunge era. Chantry embraces simplicity and a DIY style. This appreciation for grew out of his love for punk rock. His posters, while colorful, typically only make use of two or three colors. He was key in developing Seattle label Sub Pop’s aesthetic, which remains iconic today.
Jeff Kleinsmith has spent over 20 years as Sub Pop’s creative director in Seattle, and has helped to convey the label’s aesthetic. He takes pride in his hand-crafted style, which is simple and recognizable. His designs usually use few colors and have a central figure that is sometimes rather small. His artwork is something that helped define Seattle during the grunge era for many years. He has expanded to represent many bands of many genres.
Justin Hampton got his start working as a freelance illustrator under the direction of fellow Seattle artist Art Chantry. His art is mainly inspired by comic books, as well as post-impressionist art. Hampton’s posters clearly convey his comic book influences. They tend to feature comic book-style characters and themes. Unsurprisingly, he’s created his own comic books as well.
As a musician in Portland in the 1980s, Mike King first began designing posters in exchange for admission to shows. He created the classic form of punk flyer during this era. He did this by utilizing copy machines to design posters that were meant to be viewed purely as advertising. Surprisingly, King never meant to become a poster artist, but it just happened for him. He considers his style to be flexible, ranging from distorted flyers to intricate, beautiful silkscreen pieces. In addition, takes the advertisement side of concert posters very seriously. He also wants to keep concert goers informed about new music. King’s pieces are often created to give the viewer some insight into a band they may know nothing about to get them to the show.
Screwball Press (Steve Walters)
Amazing, the man behind Screwball Press, Steve Walters, wasn’t a formally trained artist. He had a degree in sociology and had been a manager at a convenience store. That’s when he began to make linoleum-block flyers for his favorite club in Chicago. He eventually discovered silkscreen and started making t-shirts and record sleeves. He’d been Inspired by psychedelic concert art and individuals like Frank Kozik. Walters started in on concert posters, employing a unique style of hand-cut letters, bold colors, and noticeable, clip art style imagery. Screwball Press’s style continues to make use of found art and art that came before. Walters is well known for his border style, which he took from old postage stamps.
Portland-based artist Gary Houston often works under the name of Voodoo Catbox. His posters are made by hand, using traditional methods such as scratchboard illustration and hand-cut Rubylith. His art style also favors tradition. Accordingly, it is heavily influenced by Native American art of the Northwest. Houston also enjoys adding humor to his pieces. He takes inspiration from the bands and musicians he creates the artwork for.He’s certainly one of the great modern poster artists.
Marco Almera’s art is very much influenced by Southern California, where he grew up. His recognizable style tends to feature cars, surf imagery, and women. He also employs Latin imagery, due to his Mexican heritage. His posters are bold, bright, and created with clean line work.
Print Mafia is made up of duo Connie Collingsworth and Jim Madison. They come from the south in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Originally, they had set out to start a store that sold everything from toys to clothes to art. But then they became interested in concert posters. All their pieces are designed by hand. They prefer the original cut-and-paste technique, utilizing the x-acto knife and a photocopier. Their influences, which show up in their posters, range greatly from movies to ’50s pinup magazines, to religious art. Their work is very bold, provocative, and unique.
Yee-Haw Industries, created by the partnership of Julie Belcher and Kevin Bradley, operated from 1997 until 2012 in Tennessee. They are some of the few modern poster artists to embrace the old “boxing style” letterpress poster. Then, they combined the tradition of letterpress printing with modern illustration. They did this mostly by creating pieces for folk and country artists. Their designs were created primarily by hand but were occasionally assisted by the computer. They used classic American fonts and quirky images of people and animals.
Hailing from New Orleans, Allen Jaeger’s poster art is nothing short of visually striking. His interest in monsters and horror, which his art features prominently, led him to become an asset for the heavy metal music scene. Jaeger’s well-thought-out pieces are very dark and creepy. They’re inspired by the music he designs them for. He produces a very limited amount of posters compared to some of his fellow artists. This makes his pieces highly collectible.
Something that makes Jermaine Rogers’ work very recognizable is his frequent use of teddy bears. He likes to present teddy bears as large and often scary-looking creatures. This challenges viewers and makes them think about something they’d perhaps previously deemed to be so innocent. His work also features storybook characters, cultural figures, and other animals in a style that is clearly influenced by comic book art.
Keith Herzik’s poster art is something you could describe as unsettling and weird. He likes to take cheap printing paper to utilize in his silkscreens. Uniquely, Herzik’s imagery is bizarre and has a very hand-drawn look to it. Thus, giving the impression that it was crudely executed. His pieces are crowded and aren’t laid out the way posters traditionally are, which makes the viewer feel disoriented. One definitely has to spend some time looking at Herzik’s pieces before they are understood.
Tara McPherson is a painter who is greatly influenced by Renaissance and Mannerist paintings. She expertly combines her classical training and influences with her love of rock and roll to design beautiful concert posters. Her style is clean and concise. It generally features a central character, often a woman, which is painted in a creepy fashion. Her characters often resemble witches and are accompanied by snakes, eyeballs, and heart-shaped cutouts in the center of their bodies. As far as poster artists go, this one is definitely collectible.
Lastly, Mister Reusch, or Mark Reusch, is a Boston-based poster artist who draws influence from monsters and all things Halloween. Unlike his contemporaries, his art is all digital prints. His posters revolve around monsters, dogs, women, skeletons, and various mythical creatures. Reusch’s style is definitely spooky, and very colorful and strange.
Thanks for reading about all these fantastic music poster artists! Now get out there and work on your collection!