Emek: “The Thinking Man’s Poster Artist”

by Katy Trosch

emek-1-240x300 Emek: "The Thinking Man's Poster Artist"When I think of legends of modern poster art, Emek is the first artist that comes to mind. Now, this might be a little bit of a personal preference. The first concert poster that was framed and gifted to me by my father was an Emek piece (it still hangs in my living room today). There isn’t a single water bottle or coffee mug that I own that doesn’t have an Emek sticker on it. But, I promise it’s not just me. Dubbed “the thinking man’s poster artist” by punk rock legend Henry Rollins, Emek is certainly one of the greatest modern poster designers.

Emek’s Art emek2-225x300 Emek: "The Thinking Man's Poster Artist"

In the words of Emek himself, his art style is where “psychedelic ’60s collides with ’90s post-industrial iconography”. Indeed, his psychedelic art influence is quite apparent. He employs the use of eyeballs, skulls, and generally trippy imagery that appeared often on posters from the 1960s and 1970s during the psychedelic era. Emek cites Rick Griffin, Wes Wilson, Stanley Mouse, and Victor Moscoso as direct influences. His interest in machinery and mechanics is another key element of his art style. Robots commonly appear on his posters. Emek’s attention to detail is incredible- there is something filling every space on the pieces he designs, and each small detail is important. His work is also often filled with meaningful social commentary.

emek3-e1609368295370 Emek: "The Thinking Man's Poster Artist"The music of the bands Emek designs posters for also inspires his art. He’s said that he’ll often listen to the music before bed, tell himself to have dreams about it, and will then wake up with an idea. Everything he creates is hand-drawn and then silkscreen printed in layers.  However, some of his posters are created in unusual ways. He has designed 3-D style posters, made ones that look like fossils, and even used branding on wood to design posters. Emek is not limited by anything when it comes to his designs.

Collecting Emek Posters

Emek’s pieces are among the most collectible modern concert posters. They are typically produced in small quantities of around 300 or so. This is certainly a factor to consider when collecting modern posters. Additionally, Emek is widely recognized as one of the greats. This definitely adds value to his posters. Now would be an ideal time to invest in some of his work, as it is somewhat undervalued at the moment and will be worth quite a bit more in the years to come. emek4 Emek: "The Thinking Man's Poster Artist"

Currently, you can find some of Emek’s posters for sale or auction for a little under $100. However, this is on the lower end. Most of his pieces will easily fetch a few hundred bucks at auction and tend to even go for a couple thousand. The value will sometimes depend on the band or artist. One of the main reasons his artwork is so collectible is due to the messages behind the posters. They’re not just gig prints- they convey important messages about the world we live in. This is why I believe Emek’s art is so important and will live on for decades to come.

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