Gig Posters

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  • Dum Dum Girls Primavera 2014 (artist unknown – it could be Lance Lester? If anyone knows please help!)

Wall Space. There’s never enough of it, especially when you’ve got a soft spot for gig posters. It’s tempting to cram as many posters as possible up on the walls but you don’t want your rooms looking like the stairwell walls at your local indie / rock bar. Or maybe you do?

My wife and I have been buying gig posters for a few years now. This mainly started out of her love for Idlewild and the happy coincidence that a friend of ours happens to regularly design posters for them. More of that later (much, much more). If we had bought every poster we’ve found and fallen in love with we’d have literally hundreds of them. To maintain some kind of control over this we try our best to stick to two simple rules when choosing what to buy:

  1. Only buy it if it’s a band you really really love (no matter how amazing that poster is)
  2. Buy it if you think it makes a great souvenir of a gig / festival you’ve been at

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  • Speedy Ortiz by Chris Hopewell & Ash Clarke at Jacknife Posters http://www.jacknifeposters.com and on Twitter @jacknifeprints
  • Edition of 105 posters (55.5cm x 57.5cm)

Gig Posters come in many different formats. You can of course pinch  Xeroxed A3/A4 posters off the walls of pubs / clubs / record stores (or just ask nicely if you can take them). The ones we buy are of the screen printed kind, usually printed in two or three colours and usually limited editions. There’s so much to love and admire about this art form. From a personal point of view I love the design and the way it’s been thought through to work with the colours and screen printing process.  I love the impact of a good poster. The best posters really capture the essence of the band and event they’re promoting. I also love that they have been hand-made. This is a seriously laborious process and let’s face it, the artists will not be making much money out of this. You are guaranteed it’s a labour of love for the artists and their affection for design and the bands they’re working for. Posters tend to cost around £15 to £25 each which is seriously good money for a print. Take off the band name and gig date and any artist would be trying to charge significantly more for artwork like this. However, I suppose there’s a need to try and sell them at a price a gig-goer is going to be willing to pay rather than what a collector may be willing to pay in an art gallery. From a buyers point of view the art is the affordable bit, it can be a lot more pricey getting them framed if you choose to do so.

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  • Beach House by Andrew Vastagh at Boss Contruction http://www.bossconstruct.com and on twitter @avastagh
  • 18″ x 24″ Edition of 60 (I think?)

All the posters pictured are framed and hung in my flat. I’ve got some more but there just isn’t the space to hang everything. These get re-arranged quite frequently, especially if a new poster has been acquired and then there’s the gut wrenching decision of which one to take down.

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  • Roddy Woomble by Bobby Evans at Telegramme Paper Co. www.telegramme.co.uk and on twitter @Telegramme
  • 3 colour print 59.4cm x 42cm (A2)

As for the previously mentioned Idlewild, our flat resembles a gallery for Handcooked Posters, part of Baseline Graphics in Stirling, a great wee design company run by Douglas Walker and his colleague Angela Innes. For many years Douglas and his team have been designing and hand printing posters for Idlewild and many other bands (The Breeders, Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad, Bright Eyes amongst many others). I’ve had a good insight to the creation of these posters through Douglas’s Facebook page where he’ll often post updates of the posters creation through a series of photos as each colour is added. This is usually through several all night sessions in his freezing garage with only a couple of cans of lager for company and a deadline that passed days ago. The end results are always stunning. If you are keen please don’t hesitate to visit http://www.thisisbaseline.com/index.php/handcookedposters/ for a look around at their great work. It’s testament to their great work that Idlewild continually return to Handcooked Posters whenever they want to commission some new work for a tour.

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Flatstock is a series of exhibitions that features many of the most popular poster artists from around the world. It’s organised by the non-profit organisation American Poster Institute (API) – read more about it here http://www.americanposterinstitute.com/flatstock . For the last few years there has been a Flatstock exhibition at the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona. We’re like kids in a candy shop. There’s thousands of posters to look at and you get a chance to chat to the artists and of course take the painful decision of what to buy and what will need to be left behind. Come Monday morning we’re usually found scrambling around the caricature artists on Las Ramblas trying to convince them to sell us a poster tube or two. It’s the only way to guarantee they’re safe return to Glasgow in good condition.

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A great online source of gig posters is http://www.gigposters.com which contains a bewildering amount of artwork for you to browse through. You can search for your favourite bands, venues, artists etc. You can create an account that allows you to favourite posters, leave comments on them and of course buy them. They publish a great range of books, playing cards and even colouring-in books all devoted to gig posters. Go have a play.

Most artists / graphic designers will have their own websites, online galleries, Instagram, Twitter etc. so it’s always worth keeping an eye on any favourites to see what’s new.

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Like any art form  gig posters can provide a lot of joy, especially true when they represent something that is already special to you. You may or may not like the ones I have posted here but go and search for your own favourite bands and I guarantee you’ll find dozens of examples. I can’t stress enough how much better they look in reality than on a screen, especially with my dodgy photo skills.

Disclaimer – sincere apologies to artists for the poor photography of your work! I’ll need to learn to use a camera. Also, If I have any details about these posters wrong or have mis-credited anything please don’t hesitate to get in touch and I’ll happily amend any details. If anyone out there can advise who the Dum Dum Girls poster artist is please get in touch so I can credit the work. Thanks!

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