Wes Wilson’s Psychedelic Posters

by Denis on September 30, 2011

Along with Alton Kelley, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin and Stanley Mouse, Wes Wilson was part of the ‘Big Five’ (photo below) which were the leading rock poster designers of the mid to late 60’s. Based in San Francisco, these artists created iconic works, many of them for Bill Graham‘s Fillmore venue and they are some of the most sought after posters by collectors today. There’s a wonderful in-depth interview with Wes Wilson on the Collector’s Weekly website which comes highly recommended and from which this excerpt, where Wilson discusses budgets and print runs, is taken from:

For the early posters it was as low as $60 for 300 or so posters, for everything. Later ones printed at West Coast Litho, it would’ve been somewhere in the area of about a thousand or a couple of thousand printed posters weekly. Finally, I think, it got up to about 3,000 posters for a first printing. The printing budget grew to around 800, 900 bucks, something like that, for the printing. I’d bill out a hundred bucks more for my artwork during 1967.

One of my favorite Wes Wilson posters is the one below for a Grateful Dead concert in 1966 with Big Mama Thornton as one of the opening acts and it was printed at West Coast Litho. About this poster, Colin Brignall wrote:

One of Wes’s later posters expressing a confidence in his art and his style. Once again Alfred Roller is the inspiration behind the lettering which, in the true tradition of San Francisco poster art of the day, fills up every available space. It is interesting to note here that Wes has introduced a softness to the letterforms so they harmonize perfectly with the panels and illustration. In doing so, they have become a little easier to read.

You will find all of Wes Wilson‘s poster works (including for Bill Graham and Family Dog) on his website.


by Denis on September 30, 2011

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