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Rock Reads: Show Posters: The Art and Practice of Making Gig Posters by Pat Jones & Ben Nunery

Reviewed by Kevin Wierzbicki

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In the old days posters for concerts weren't much to look at; usually they were just typeset affairs that held the basic who, what and where information and maybe a photo of the band or bands appearing. This began to change in the 1960s when bands first started to be influenced by psychedelics and posters got trippy right along with the music. Today concert posters have evolved to the point where music fans attending shows in dive bars can enjoy a miniature art gallery of sorts in these places through the viewing of the posters that adorn the bar's walls, halls and urinal stalls. This coffee table style book, put together by Pat Jones and Ben Nunery of rock and roll art specialist firm Powerhouse Factories, is a sheer delight to look through. About 150 of the book's 207 pages hold color reproductions of concert posters featuring everything from a spacey (literally!) alien abduction scene on a Skrillex poster to an art deco-influenced piece touting a Styx gig to a Dropkick Murphys poster with the band's logo and show info on, appropriately enough for a group that always draws a rowdy crowd, a whiskey bottle. Animals, albeit usually with some sort of funky quirk, are a favorite of concert poster artists; a frightening rabbit and cat adorn a Justin Hampton-designed Ween poster, goose-stepping mice with popguns highlight a Melvins piece, a buffalo being tormented by a cat (in a Mason jar!) features on a Tyler the Creator poster and the odd sight of a dog riding a tricycle brings surrealism to a poster for a Paleface gig. Snakes, a gorilla, an organ grinder monkey, an owl, a pheasant and even a unicorn reside in other works among the psychedelic and otherwise striking posters. But the eye candy is not all that the book has to offer; if you fancy a career in poster design the book's early pages explain techniques to get some of the effects on display within and there is also a comprehensive section that explains how to approach bands about making posters for them and how to market the finished product. The book wraps up with artist profiles on Andy Vastagh of Boss Construction, Travis Bone of Furturtle Show Prints, Lil' Tuffy, Matt Barnes and Aaron May from Jones and Nunery's own Powerhouse Factories.

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