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.”
“Most of my earlier posters were for local musicians in the Chicago improvised music scene, such as MacArthur Fellow Ken Vandermark,” he adds. “That led to working with a lot of visiting international musicians such as Peter Brötzmann and The Ex.”
Now designing for bands including The Black Keys, Melvins, and Phish, Grzeca draws his inspiration from the same place he always has: painters (Philip Guston, George Grosz, Max Beckmann, and Pablo Picasso, among others). “Then we have contemporary events and the history of human conquest, and that pretty much keeps my brain busy.”
Keeping his production process pretty simple, Grzeca listens to the music, sits down at his table, and draws. Using scratchboard and vellum for silkscreen separations, he focuses on reflecting the music of the musician in his own specific style, a method he describes as working “99.9% of the time.”
And because of Grzeca’s artistic appeal, his designs have been able to travel the country on tour posters. “I’m fortunate enough that people hire me because they know I’m going to bring a unique illustrative perspective to the poster they want to promote and sell at the show.”
To view or purchase Grzeca’s prints, visit his Etsy shop.
Poster Art is a biweekly column about today’s independent poster art and the artists who create it.