It was a nice surprise to be included in an article about gig poster artists in DFW that came out in the Dallas Observer, today. I was interviewed about my gig poster work, recently, but wasn't sure when the article would come out, or if I'd even be mentioned.
I've been designing and hand screen printing gig posters for bands, venues and promoters for several years now, from small handbills to oversized tour posters. It's been a fun creative outlet, especially when each poster ends up being one more little piece of the rock n' roll history canon.
It's sometimes challenging to keep poster designs fresh and interesting, and not subconsciously recycling another poster design from several years back, often wondering, "why does this poster seem so familiar?"
A bit of honesty here: Shortly after I made my plunge into being a self-employed, full time artist, I really wanted to do gig posters for a living. Go see shows for free, network with bands and promoters, design and screen print for a living, what is not to like about that? After a few years of struggling to make a living as just a gig poster artist, I began to learn the harsh reality that no matter how hard I worked, the appeal of gig posters and the artists who made them (especially in Texas) was not really there, nor was I ever going to make the same kind of money as I had been as a professional gallery artist.
I never felt like most people gave a damn about the process of designing a poster, nor the time it takes to hand print every single color. Perhaps we've become too accustomed to the boring, five cent photo copy from Kinko's that communicates the same information over the hand made poster? Or, we've become too accustomed to the 'got to have it now at the cheapest, most convenient price possible delivered from Amazon' mentality, that no one gives a shit about good quality? I have my theories, which probably involves too many angles to take the time to write about, but ultimately, my commercial failure of sustaining myself as just a gig poster artist taught me several things (many of which I'll save for a future post) about the business end of art, and myself, as well.
With a little bit of time away from posters this year, I'm now able to engage the craft with some authentic excitement again. (Here is a recent poster design for a friend's band, featuring some Fillmore style hand drawn lettering.) It's rare I offer to design a poster for someone gratis, but since I hadn't made a poster in awhile, I thought I'd design this one. The pressure is off my shoulders to look at making gig posters as my sole means of paying the bills. I now look at it as a way to supplement income (maybe use the $$$ to support my vinyl record habit?) and add to the ever-growing portfolio of designs and clients I've amassed for myself.
I always have several different creative irons in the fire at any given time. If I start to get bored with one thing, (i.e. gig posters) I can shift my creative mind elsewhere. Taking breaks from things only helps me be a better artist, to grow and not get stale or too burned out doing the same things over and over.
Despite what my future may hold as a gig poster artist, creatively or commercially, it's not something I'll completely abandon. Heck, even though I have a car, I still enjoy bike rides. It's great to get some additional free press about my craft as a gig poster artist in DFW, for sure. Who knows, I might be doing some of my best gig poster work to date really soon. We shall see. In the meantime, back to the creative lair I go.