Design & Art History – The Psychedelic Movement (CA.1960-1970)

Design & Art History, Mandatory Assignments, Uncategorized

” The sixties was the last idealistic time, the years that shaped an entire generation. An era that some say ended with the death of president Kennedy and Martin Luther King jr.”

 – The Sixties – The Years That Shaped a Generation. – [Documentary]


In the late sixties something happened to an american generation that would mark them forever. It is a story of war, the struggle for racial equality and the explosion of counter culture, it was a time when a generation rebelled, and lost its innocence in the fight against injustice. Vietnam was the first ever televised war, and the images were inescapable.

A decade that ended with disillusionment and rage began on a moral high note. Thanks to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King jr, it seemed the time for racial equality in the US had finally arrived.

There is so much to write about in this era, that it is very difficult to select just one thing to focus on. Even though there is an absurd amount of art and design that stems from this time period. When we talk about the “sixties” all we seem to recognise is the music, psychedelic rock and artists like Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix in particular.

Album art and festival posters however is a good place to start. As music was a force to be reckoned with, so came the album art work and poster designs, hand in hand.

One thing that seems to be re-occurring with most of the visual artists at the time is a relation with underground comix. These were small press or self published comic books, usually socially relevant and satirical in their nature. These depicted content deemed unfit and forbidden to the more strict mainstream media.


Rick Griffin :
When we look up band posters it is hard to avoid finding a Grateful Dead poster somewhere, anywhere. The artist behind these were Rick Griffin.He was an american artist and one of the leading designers of psychedelic posters in the 1960s

His work within the surfing subculture included both film posters and his comic strip, Murphy.

Album art for the Grateful Dead album Aoxomoxoa and a poster for the Quicksilver Messenger Service at Avalon Ballroom 1/12-14/68 by Rick Griffin.




Victor Moscoso :
A Spanish-American artist, Moscoso was the first of the rock poster artists of the 1960s era with formal academic training and experience.

After studying art at the Cooper Union in New York and later attending Yale University, he moved to San Francisco in 1959 to study at the San Francisco Art Institute. Here he later became an instructor. He was one of the first of the rock poster artists to use  photographic collages in his art work.

His art and poster work has continued up to the present and he is a big inspiration to rock poster and album illustrators to this day.



Bonnie MacLean :
Another American artist making a name for her self at the time was Bonnie MacLean. She was born in Philadelphia and graduated from the Penn State University in 1960.

She then moved to New York where she worked at the Pratt Institute while attending drawing classes in the evenings. She later moved to San Francisco where she met and worked with a man named Bill Graham, who became famous as the promoter of rock concerts at the Fillmore Auditorium. There she worked alongside another artist by the name of Wes Wilson.

Wilson had a falling out with the promoter Bill Graham. Bonnie MacLean had been painting noticeboards at the auditorium in the psychedelic style, and took up the creation of the posters after Wilson left.  Thirty of her posters are now listed in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum.



Wes Wilson :
The aforementioned artist Wes Wilson was also one of the leading illustrators of psychedelic posters in the 1960`s. Working with Bill Graham and Bonnie MacLean, he was a big part of promoting venues at the time with posters and illustrative work for musicians and bands.

The font and lettering of the posters from this era were created by him. he popularised this “psychedelic” font around 1966 that made the letters look like they were moving or melting. This lettering is still used on newer albums and art works for artists like Foo Fighters, Kyuss Lives and The Queens of the Stone Age.

This in turn proves that the psychedelic movement is still influencing artists, especially in the world of metal, desert rock and stoner rock. The style is very much still alive as its own staple.



Modern poster styles :
Posters still influenced by the styles of art work can be traced through homages and inspirations in rock and metal posters from the present all the way back to this era.

Many more modern posters can be viewed on the web pages of Malleus Rock Art Lab if you should be interested. I personally find a lot of inspiration through their imagery.

Thank you for reading.

Design & Art History – Pop Art (CA.1959-1970)

Design & Art History, Uncategorized

The exchange of creativity and culture.

“Good evening.
The world of pop art, the world of filmstars, the twist, science fiction.
A world which you can dismiss if you were feeling so inclined of course as being tawdry and second rate, but a world all the same in which everybody to some degree anyway lives,
whether we like it or not.” -Unknown

In a world of fast food and fast cars, pop art emerged in the mid fifties, during Americas post war economic boom. In the sixties Americans went big on cigarettes, alcohol and sex. Because of this an industry sprang into action to sell more of it, namely advertising.

A brazen new art, it shrugged of the tragic burden of the human condition.
Adding to a new mass produced world, filling the billboards and television screens for a new wide eyed generation of consumers. The British had started it, but the Americans made it bigger and more daring. Pop art in itself was a rebellion against the expressionist art movement at the time.


Andy Warhol :
There is simply no way around it.
There is no discussing pop art without mentioning Andy Warhol and the pop art he created of Hollywood stars and starlets.

Most famous of which would be the Marilyn Monroe prints. These silk screen prints were created in, and distributed from, his studio known as “The Factory”. The Marilyn print portfolio was created in 1967, after she passed away in 1962.

There are more than 20 versions, of which just one of them, recently sold for 28 Million USD.

Andy Warhol, being the man that he was, claimed painting was “dead” and that he was at the forefront of creating a new art form. This was in 1966 after he created “The Cow Series”.

This series transcended the expectations of printmaking and artistic expression at the time, and is probably the reason why this technique was later adapted for his work with silk screens and the Monroe series. The cows were printed on wallpaper.



Roy Lichtenstein :
Another artist working in New York at the time was Roy Lichtenstein. Known for recreating single frames out of cheap comics in a large and matte  format.

Lichtenstein had a masters in art from Ohio State University. He worked in advertising up until 1957 before he became obsessed with the shape language of pop art.

One of his most famous artworks is an image of two jets called Whaam. These are two individual frames combined to create the full work of art. His works keep inspiring artists to this day, and his style has become a staple in what a new generation might misinterpreted or call “old style comics”. For instance, the dots a printing press would create, were recreated in his work as an aesthetic.


Whaam by Roy Lichtenstein



Pop art is very much still a big part of the times we are living in currently. Inspiring new as well as established artists and students, in many ways.



Artist : DogHollywood. “I’ve always loved the Andy Warhol pop art style from the ’60s and wanted to do a homage to it.


Yoshitomo Nara :
Talking about pop art in more recent times, the biggest name is Yoshitomo Nara, a japanese artist working out of Tokyo. His art is being displayed in museums and galleries all around the world. He attended the University of Fine Arts and Music in Aichi japan and later moved on to study at the Düsseldorf Art Academy.

Being a part of and inspired by the modern pop culture from both the western world as well as pop culture in Japan after the second world war. He is recognized as the greatest contributor to Japans very own pop art movement in the 1990`s.



Artist : Yoshitomo Nara – Girl with Cigarette

Thank you for reading.