Poster Art: Ryan Duggan’s punchy minimalism

Screen-printing poster artist Ryan Duggan grew up in Northern Illinois in a small town that Tom Waits wrote a song about.  “There I spent all my time drawing and forming shitty bands with my friends,” he says.  For reasons still unbeknownst to him, Duggan then relocated to Chicago to study advertising.  Maps & Atlases was formed by friends shortly after, and Duggan has been screen-printing since.

“Many posters these days are meaningless collages made in Photoshop and distressed to look ‘rock and roll,’” he says. “It comes off looking very fake to me.  I feel that music is a dirty, stupid ordeal and that this should come across in the imagery — it’s how you know everyone’s still having fun.” Read More

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Poster Art: Dan Grzeca’s paint-inspired screen prints

Fifteen years ago, Chicago artist Dan Grzeca (pronounced Jet-sah) was painting.  It was the ’90s, and Bob Hartzell and Steve Walters of Screwball Press introduced him and a slew of other artists, including Jay Ryan, to screen printing — specifically, poster making.  “That’s one of the reasons Chicago has such a rich pool of talent,” Grzeca says.  “It’s very self-perpetuating with older artists inspiring and encouraging new, younger artists.” Read More

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Poster Art: Garrett Karol’s tactile style

Texture and muted color schemes create the gritty but expensive feel of Garrett Karol’s work. “I really like to print on cream paper and off-white paper too,” the Missouri-based designer says. “It looks nice.”

Beginning his artistic career as the creative director for the Design Center at the University of Missouri, Karol graduated with a degree in graphic design in 2006. During this time, he developed a relationship with Columbia music venue The Blue Note, where he was able to print gig posters for touring musicians such as Andrew Bird, Ratatat, and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. By getting his name out there, he was then able to design tour posters for others such as Brother Ali, José Gonzalez, and Jackie Greene.

Using a strictly DIY setup, each project begins with a rough sketch or idea, which is either created on the computer or scanned in later. The posters are then screen printed by hand using a combination of screen-printing ink and the occasional house paint.

Designing with the intention to “have the image match the music,” Karol constructs illustrations from an obscure lyric or attempts to capture the essence of the band and its music. Whether that means a disco-ball hot-air balloon or a mustached woman with a top hat, the end result is a grimy, vintage-esque poster with dimension, typography, and simple yet eye-catching graphics.

“Texture plays a large role in a lot of my design work,” Karol says. “I really enjoy the added depth it can add to a design.”

Whether intentional or not, Karol’s use of subdued color palettes paired with dark overlays of texture has become his brand and can largely be attributed to the young designer’s success.

But other than creating your own style, what advice does the established designer have for newcomers? Ask for projects.

“Whenever a band that I’m interested in comes to town, I’ll ask to see if they’re in need of a poster to hang up around town,” Karol says. By the looks of it, he isn’t turned down too often

Poster Art is a biweekly column about today’s independent poster art and the artists who create it.

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Poster Art: Nels “Jagmo” Jacobson’s fortuitous relocation

“It was a move to Austin, Texas in 1978 that touched off my fascination with poster art,” says Nels Jacobson, better known as psychedelic-poster artist Jagmo. “That move changed my life.”

In Texas at Club Foot as a bar manager and promotions director, Jacobson was able to mingle with music legends such as B.B. King, James Brown, and Stevie Ray Vaughan and also artists that he commissioned for concert posters. Read More

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Poster Art: Cricket Press’ creative diversity

First working out of a tiny home studio in Lexington, Kentucky, Brian and Sara Turner created Cricket Press, a hand-printing, silk-screening, poster-making operation, in 2003. Since then, the duo has generated work for hundreds of bands, ranging from “indie rock to free jazz, bluegrass to punk, as well as promotional work for events both local and national,” the Turners say. Read More

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Poster Art: Joanna Wecht’s Womanly World

By using vintage images of women and by hand printing her own work because printing “tastes like ribs and chicken,” Joanna Wecht creates raw, multi-dimensional posters.

But she maintains that the imagery is not used to be an activist or prove a point; Wecht just enjoys being a “girl, a young lady, a woman,” and utilizes images that portray her disposition. Read More

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Poster Art: Mara Piccione’s Anthropomorphism

Netherlands-based artist Mara Piccione explores love, childhood, nightmares, sadness, mental illness, and the “beauty of it all” in her silk-screened, music-centered work.

In addition to her themes of of human/animal hybrids, this blend of features depicts expressions that “make is possible for a character to be sweet, sad, and weird at the same time.” Read More

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Zine Scene: The Sociology of Aaron Lake Smith

Like countless other works of art, Aaron Lake Smith’s zines were born out of boredom.  The author of Big Hands and Unemployment recalls how he got started in writing, in 2004: “I spent a summer living in a moldy garage behind an anarchist collective in Greensboro, North Carolina. All my friends were gone, and I had nothing else to do.” Read More

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