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Concert Poster Artists Document the Sights and Sound of Music

Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 17:01

Ryan Avery music posters

Ryan A. Ruiz

Phoenix College freshman Ryan Avery implements his art background to create digital collage concert posters for local shows.

Avery, who says he doesn't make money for designing gig posters, said he does it because it's still worth hearing people talk about his poster years later or seeing a poster he designed on someone's wall.

That obviously doesn't put food on the table. So why do it? Swanzai said there's something "true" about gig posters and the challenge of finding the relationship between visual and aural art.

"I tried full-time freelance for a little while, but it turns out that starving artists aren't the best source of income for a starving artist," the Chicago-based artist Swanzai wrote in an email. "I marketed my business, web and graphic design, primarily to bands for a while, sometimes literally saying ‘screw businesspeople.' [I] just couldn't make it work. I know there are poster designers who make a living doing it, so I suppose they're ‘winning,' but I never saw any competition in it. On the contrary, poster design seems closer to 'true art,' which I don't think anyone would describe as a competitive activity. If they do, they're doing it wrong."

"Fans and collectors are fickle and savvy," pointed out Philly artist Charles Moran. "I can't blame them with all of the amazing work out there. Their love is a major part of what keeps this alive."

Moran, who works for the production company R5, said it has "revolutionized the way music is experienced" in Philadelphia.

"As the art form grows, a better wealth of talent is drawn to it," Moran said. "I think this is why you see the evolution of the rock poster from Hatch Show prints to the Bill Graham posters of the ‘60s era to the ‘90s madness of [Art] Chantry and [Frank] Kozik era to where we are now. I can't explain the feeling when the visual and auditory elements of each piece of art seamlessly blend into each other and are representative of each other. It's something vastly underappreciated in our stop-and-go culture."

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