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The Incredible Visions of 1960s Music Posters

I am absolutely obsessed with anything out of the 60s and 70s, especially the art. The colors, typography, and illustration styles are magnificent. In high school, I actually did a project on the origins of psychedelic art, and I thought I’d share some of my favorite facts with you today!

The signature psychedelic style of the 1960s can be attributed to the rising popularity of hallucinogens, anti-war sentiments, and Eastern philosophy. In stark contrast to the streamlined, modernist design trends of the 40s and 50s, psychedelia’s goal was completely different: Artists wanted viewers to stare at their work for long periods of time to mimic the effect of a “trip.” Some elements used to accomplish this effect were brightly contrasting colors, flowing typography, and collage. Wes Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Alton Kelley, and Stanley Mouse, also known as the “Big Five,” were some of the most influential poster designers of the time.

As new, experimental music exploded in the early 60s, psychedelic art was often paired with concert posters and album covers. San Francisco was a hot spot for the movement, seeing that many musicians lived there, including the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane.

Here are some of my absolute favorite posters that came out of the psychedelic movement:

John Myers, 1966

This poster, designed by John Myers, was printed for the Yardbirds’ concert in 1966.

Bonnie McLean, 1967

This print was designed by Bonnie McLean in 1967 for a concert starring Muddy Waters, Buffalo Springfield, and Richie Havens.

Lee Conklin, 1968

This poster for Canned Heat was designed by Lee Conklin in 1968 and intentionally printed out-of-register to create the layered, film-like look.

Bob Masse, 1966

Serving as one of the most iconic posters in rock history, this design for Pink Floyd was done by Bob Masse in 1966 for their show at the Marquee in London.

Wes Wilson & Herb Greene, 1966

Wes Wilson, one of the most well-known psychedelic artists of the time, designed this poster with Herb Greene for Jefferson Airplane in 1966.

Tune in!

– DJ Butter

By DJ Butter

A little Butter makes everything better. Part-time WKNC content manager and graphic designer, full-time sludgy surf rock funk master metalhead. Get in touch with ya suggestions n' such at content@wknc.org.