Today I want to write about Tara McPherson.
McPherson is, well, how else can I say it, an artist. She studied art, and earned a BFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena with a major in Illustration. She has been featured in Esquire, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Juxtapose, and even Playboy. In 2015, following solo shows in New York and Los Angeles, she had her first solo show in Rome.
Based in New York, Tara McPherson is a painter who just happens to make gig posters. I have one.
Tara McPherson a Renaissance Woman
In 2005, I went to see Rilo Kiley at the Roseland Theatre in Portland, Oregon. I loved Rilo Kiley—I still love singer Jenny Lewis, who has done a tremendous amount of solo work. They were touring on More Adventurous, a great album. The show was, of course, excellent.
Granted, this was some fifteen years ago, and I can’t remember exactly where I found this poster, but I got it and had it professionally preserved in a gold frame (gold-painted, anyway) that I’d found in an antique store. The gold goes well with the incredibly original image’s colors.
This is a 3-color silkscreen, 16″ by 23″, printed by Diesel Fuel Prints, signed and numbered in an edition of 300. And what is this image? What are we looking at?
As McPherson writes at the poster’s bottom, these are “radiolarian doodlings” that are “dedicated to Ernst Haekel and his microscope.” Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haekel, by the way, was, according to Wikipedia at any rate, a German zoologist, naturalist, philosopher, professor, marine biologist, and artist—in short, a Renaissance Man.
That’s fitting because McPherson is clearly a Renaissance Woman. From fine art to sculpture to books, she’s accomplished a lot. She even makes toys! But let’s look at a few of her gig posters.
Tara’s Gig Posters
She’s made posters for a lot of bands. Metallica, Pixies, Blink-182, Faith No More, The Breeders, Beck, The Melvins, and even a band I wouldn’t expect to see on a gig poster, Duran Duran.
I’m going to be perfectly honest: this poster is lodged in my head. Is it because, as I’ll readily admit, I liked Duran Duran in middle school? I think it’s more the femininity of the poster, which is something Tara’s work really exemplifies. The woman here is not only beautiful, but she seems to call to mind, for me at least, the videos of Duran Duran in their early-80’s heyday. That wonderful wallpaper background, too, calls to mind some of the stuff I’ve seen Mike King do: a fine touch, real finesse.
The most recent poster on her website is this outrageous eight-color silkscreen, made with metallic inks, for Mastodon, sized at a rather large 21″ by 33″:
The feminine here seems to have a comic book art influence (DC Comics is one of her clients), and at the same time is a rather empowering vision. It has the feel of what we might simply call illustration or pop surrealism, but it transcends that, too; again, the trick of the concert poster is that it at once acts as an individual piece of art as much as a commemoration.
She also does fuzzy animals, as she did here in a 200-edition 4-color silkscreen for, of all bands, the Melvins!
Check out Tara McPherson’s website: I can’t possibly show here all the amazing posters she’s done. It is worth exploring.
GoCollect is launching into a new collectibles market – concert posters! Check out the official statement.