[Note: images of the
psychedelic posters referred to here have been removed to avoid
copyright infringement; they have been replaced by links to images
elsewhere on the web.]
Having given a talk (to the Ipswich Art Society in autumn 2011 –
see the poster here) about
the work which has inspired him, Borin thought it might be interesting
to include some of the material here and a some examples of his early
work which sprang from it.
The period around 1967 was characterized by an explosion of
visual invention involving typographical, colour and illustrative
elements pushed to new heights. Silk screen printing and offset
lithography, such relatively
crude processes compared to the 21st century's digital/ink jet methods
also pushed by designers and artists to deliver extraordinarily subtle
and striking results. Here are a handful of works which inspired Borin
Van Loon's early exploration of the language of psychedelic posters.
Up to a certain
point, the movement to promote musical events (often billed
anachronistically as 'dance concerts') by means of recognisably
psychedelic posters occurred mainly on the west coast of America.
Visual artists in, excuse the cliché, Swinging London saw,
learnt and came up with some of the best creations in an all-too-brief
cultural moment. This example is one of a string of fine posters by
the team of Michael English and Nigel Waymouth and features foil paper,
split inking, dazzling colour, elastic lettering and eclectic
iconography, all characteristic of their work as 'Hapshash & The
Coloured Coat'. They drew on Art Nouveau lettering, whiplash curves,
Aubrey Beardsley and Alphonse Mucha as well as fine art sources, all
spiced with wit and a sense of playfulness. Dealers and collectors have
created a lucrative market for psychedelic posters in recent years.
See also Borin's Black Sun page: a painting
inspired the first Hapshash & The
Coloured Coat LP cover (illustrated there).
A simple and powerful image of one of the most iconic faces
in early rock, particularly significant as James Marshall Hendrix
started his meteoric rise under the tutelage of Chas Chandler in the UK
with British sidemen Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding making up The Jimi
Hendrix Experience. Borin actually got to see this poster in its large
scale printed form at an exhibition of posters at the Victoria &
Albert Museum in London in summer 1998 (typically, the organisers left
of the book published to catalogue the exhibits, possibly due to
copyright limitations). It rose in public
conciousness again in 2010/11 when Miranda Hart's situation comedy
Miranda was broadcast and this
image was seen hanging in Gary's Bar,
the setting for many scenes. Signed, 2nd printings of the image have
been available at a high price from London dealers. Larry Smart died
some years ago. Inspired by this and other images in the late sixties,
Borin went on to
create a number of Hendrix images over many years.
Australian designer Martin Sharp moved to London in 1966 and
became art director of Richard Neville's Oz
magazine and became part of London’s countercultural scene,
designing psychedelic posters for clubs and musicians. For a time he
was Eric Clapton's flatmate and presented him with a song lyric which
seemed virtually impossible to set to music. Jack Bruce took the lyric
and turned it into one of the great psychedelic rock songs of the era:
Cream's Tales of Brave Ulysses
from the album Disraeli Gears.
Sharp was also responsible for the back and front covers for that LP,
although it took Borin years to discover it. In those days the artist
rarely got a credit for his or her work on the 12 inch square sleeves
– a main selling point – but 'Printed and made by Ernest J.
Day & Co. Ltd' or '... by Garrod & Lofthouse Ltd' was always
prominently credited: the power of the printer/manufacturer. The poster
of Bob Dylan is visually stunning with
Sharp's characteristic humour showing through in the witty 'Blowin'
in the mind' lettering and partially obscured song title emphasising
the word 'urine'. He was unashamed to use basic tools to achieve
his artwork and credited himself as 'Sharp Martin (& his silver
scissors – snip, snip!)'. Currently living back home in Australia
painter, he has made a selection of his posters available once again
for the modern audience. This particular era-defining piece featured in
Mick Farren's hard-to-find, large-format 1976 book Get
on down: a decade of rock and roll posters.
Miller (Blues) Band by
in 1966/7 Moscoso set the
American standard with what he still describes as 'classic
psychedelic'. Moscoso has said that when somebody warns him that he
can't put two colours together in a design, this fills him with a
dermination to do it. The colour vibration he produces is unmistakable.
Some fine examples are reproduced in the compilation of his work: Sex, rock and optical illusions. He
went on to design a back-and-front colour cover for Zap Comix which has
become a classic. He's also a dab hand with a dip pen, so all-in-all a
good egg. The poster above would have been created by hand in
monochrome with detailed instructions to the printer to separate out
defined areas to be printed in specified colours. Moscoso is also a
'La Fenetre Rose' by Mike McInnerney
and Dudley Edwards
The former writes: 'A poster with a spiritual message produced by the
Omtentacles design team of myself (Michael McInnerney) and Dudley
Edwards. We conceived of an evolutionary hippy head as the key image
for a psychedelic show in Paris. The head carries a number of meanings.
It is a tree of life that expresses evolutionary consciousness, It is
the geodesic geometry of rational imagination expanding into space... '
McInnerney had only a black and white photographic copy of the poster –
the printers having destroyed most copies because the client didn't
funds to pay them. Since then a colour image of the poster has surfaced
online. A partial, tiny version of the poster (seen in the artists
group photo below) acted as an inspiration for an early painting in
oils on canvass by Borin Van Loon: In
sweet creative anguish.
This contemporary press shot mingles
commercial posters for the London Planetarium, Madame Tussaud's and the
RSC with (from top left) lower part of Larry Smart's 'Hendrix',
[Little Murders: Jules Feiffer play], Mick Jagger ('Let
him that is without sin, Jail the first Stone'), 'Girl with green hair'
(Alton Kelly & Stanley Mouse, based on an advertisement by Alphonse
Mucha), part of Big Brother & The
Holding Company (Moscoso), 'UFO at the Roundhouse' (Martin
Sharp), 'Pipedream' (C.H. Johansen III). [RSC: As you
like it], 'Steve Miller Band' (Moscoso), 'CIA vs UFO' (Hapshash), 'Luv
Productions' (Hapshash), [Madame Tussaud's], 5th Dimension Club,
Tomorrow:'My white bicycle' (Hapshash), 'October Songs' -Incredible
String Band/Shirley Collins (Osiris Visions, artist?).
Probably from the same shoot (we'll
have to dig out that old Sunday supplement copy – see below), this shows, from top
left: the edge of a Hendrix/Saville Theatre poster (Hapshash),
Crazy World of
Arthur Brown (Hapshash), Mister
Tambourine Man (Sharp), large UFO poster (Michael English),
UFO (Hapshash), Love Festival (Michael English), 'Mine eyes have seen
the glory' (Rick Griffin), Sopwith Camel (Moscoso), Can-A-Blis (Rick
& Hardy], [US satirical poster: 'Dynamic duo exposed'], Jefferson
Airplane/Great Society (Family Dog), The Doors (Moscoso), "You can get IT here" (flyer
shown in windows of outlets selling International
Times), Save Earth Now (Michael
English), right side of UFO Coming
(Hapshash), [Castro photo], UFO Club (Mike McInnerney), 'Flapping your
arms can be flying' (Joe McHugh), 14 Hour
Technicolour Dream (Mike McInnerney), Hendrix at The Fillmore
Whoo-hoo! Here it is from a copy of the Sunday Times Colour Supplement
around 1967. Printed on coated newsprint. cut and punched and put into
a lever arch file in a damp, cold/hot loft for 47 years and it still
looks great. Larry
Smart's 'Hendrix' poster is visible in almost all its glory at upper
left. The only other posters not shown in the studio variants above:
'Electrical Love' (Donovan by C.H. Johansen III, Pandora Publications)
below the Love Festival lips.
La fenetre rose
A real rarity; so
rare, that the artists themselves never got a copy (however, a colour
image has appeared on the late Mike McInnerney's website –click the
title above). Mike McInnerney and
Dudley Edwards called themselves OM Tentacles and were commissioned to
produce a poster for La fenetre rose,
a 1967 psychedelic show in Paris featuring The Spencer Davis Group,
Keith West & Tomorrow (My white
bicycle), Cat Stevens and Soft Machine. Once printed, the client
couldn't pay for the posters and almost all were destroyed by the
printers. Borin spotted this as a tiny detail in a photograph of 'The
men behind the poster boom' in yet another Sunday supplement (see
cutting below) and was
inspired. Once he'd started to work in oils, he used this as a jumping
off point for his painting In sweet
creative anguish in the early 1970s.
Above: on a wet and windy day in 1967, four psychedelic poster artists
display their work; (left to right):-
- Nigel Waymouth
holding the promotional poster for the Hapshash & The Coloured Coat
- Mike McInnerney
leaning on La fenetre rose psychedelic
festival (a tree person whose head expands into branches – see the
- David Vaughan of the
design team Binder, Edwards & Vaughan;
- Michael English
holding Pink Floyd: CIA v UFO
& The Coloured Coat);
- Jon Goodchild, art
editor of Oz magazine.
There are all sorts of source books and websites for the psychedelic
poster era and here are some of the best:
Ted Owen: 'High art - a history of
the psychedelic poster'. Sanctuary,
Victor Moscoso: 'Sex, drugs and
optical illusion'. Fantagraphics, 2005.
Michael English: '3D eye'.
Paper Tiger, 1979.
(Visions) Ltd catalogue/images
Emily King's Guardian article on the V&A
psychedelic poster show in 2006
Classic Posters (US dealer)
Posters (UK dealer with good images)
Borin's page of early work inspired by
this visual explosion.
throughout this site belongs to Borin Van Loon