Although the art scene in London is constantly bustling with emerging bands and imminent visual artists, its poster-arts community is barely on the radar. “Silk-screened posters in the UK are nowhere near as popular as they are in the States,” says British designer Adam Pobiak. “Let’s put it this way: I’ve never seen a silk-screened poster at a show that I didn’t do myself.” However, the scene is growing, and people are slowly starting to catch on to the art of poster production.
The imagery within Pobiak’s work comes from a hodgepodge of sources. He takes many of his own photos and works with a variety of found imagery that originates from the likes of stock-photo catalogs and pornography sites. “I feel that if you can recognize the original photo I’ve used,” Pobiak says, “I haven’t done my job.”
Punk music — as well as an array of bands from Dischord Records — has been an aesthetic influence on Pobiak for many years. Additionally, he looks to poster art pioneer Ron Liberti for visual inspiration. “Of course, there are tons of illustrators I admire,” Pobiak says, “but I never call them influences, as I’ll never manage their technical skills. I just look at their stuff, drool, and get jealous.”
Despite his modesty, Pobiak has an extensive portfolio under his belt as well as a continuously expanding clientele. He has created silk-screened posters for renowned bands such as The Flaming Lips, !!!, The Black Keys, and The Decemberists. Additionally, Pobiak has designed album artwork for London-based bands The Fabulous Penetrators and The Outside Royalty. Aside from music-related artwork, Pobiak works full time as a senior designer for MySpace and as a freelance designer for companies like BlackBerry and the Modern of Museum of Art in New York City.
Pobiak produces work “organically” — he generally does not start off with physical sketches but with mental outlines for the project before sitting down and getting to work. The majority of his posters intentionally focus on typography. “The image is just sort of there to support the type,” he says.
The prints feature hand-drawn type and indulge in neon hues that demand the viewer’s undivided attention. Outrageous subject matter — ranging from exotic animals to florid portraiture — swirls within loud, bold graphics. Simply put, Pobiak’s artwork successfully translates the energy of a live music performance to paper.
In 2007, fellow Brit Chris White founded Poster Roast, an active website and artists group dedicated to the development and promotion of poster artists within the UK. The group frequently hosts gig-poster exhibitions alongside live music performances. Recently, Pobiak’s work was displayed at the Poster Roast exhibition at Constellations Festival in Leeds, which featured headliners Broken Social Scene alongside dozens of other bands, art, and film.
Although the poster-arts community in Britain is still in its early stages, Pobiak fondly notes, “I guess it’s a good thing that all Roast folk are a great bunch to hang out with. It’s a pity they don’t like to drink beer, though.”