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What’s Behind the Widespread Obsession With Rock-Concert Screenprints

What s Behind the Widespread Obsession With Rock Concert Screenprints Collectors Weekly


Close your eyes and run your fingertips gently across the surface of a screenprint, and you can feel the layers of ink squeegeed there. Hold the sheet up to the light and look at it horizontally, and you can actually see those layers, rising and falling like pancaked mesas and valleys in some sort of psychedelic Southwest. That’s what people mean when they say screenprints are tactile, when they wax poetic about the medium’s dimensionality, when they talk about its smell.

“Scantily clad women and rock posters will always be a winning combination.”

Smell? “I’ve had this discussion many times with many different artists and collectors,” says artist and screenprinter Jeff Wood, who’s created countless limited-edition, rock-’n’-roll screenprints for Widespread Panic, the Allman BrothersUmphrey’s McGee, and numerous other bands. “Everybody knows when they’ve opened one of my poster tubes because I use UV inks, which have a very distinct smell compared to water-based or solvent-based inks.” To borrow a line from a song by the jam-band Phish, each ink, you might say, has its own olfactory hue.

This month, a gorgeous new book called “Poster Children” explores the world of rock posters, if not their smells, by following the evolution of Athens, Georgia, band Widespread Panic’s rock posters over the past 25 years, from the cheap photocopies stapled to telephone poles in the dead of night to the handmade screenprints that routinely spark bidding wars on eBay. Along with those of PhishDave Matthews, andPearl Jam, Widespread Panic’s posters are among the most sought after on the scene today, thanks in no small part to its stellar stable of artists, whose ranks include Wood, Chuck SperryMarq Spusta, andEmek.

Stashed in: Rock!, ART

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