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A new book collects music posters printed in Austin, Texas, between 1967 and 1982, as the city’s music and underground art scenes flourished. Homegrown: Austin Music Posters 1967 to 1982 tracks the shifting aesthetics of Texan poster artists responding to psychedelia, rock, and punk.
The Austin poster scene of the late 1960s was helped along by the patronage of the Vulcan Gas Company music club, which booked rock and psychedelic acts. Over the two-and-a-half years that the club operated, a series of designers—Gilbert Shelton, Jim Franklin, others—produced posters for visiting acts. They drew quickly, sometimes producing a poster in a night. Many also drew comic books.
Bobby Earl Smith (of the band Freda and the Firedogs) told the book’s editor Alan Schaefer: “The poster artists went to the gigs; they knew the band members; we all smoked dope and joked and drank beer together.” Poster art didn’t pay well, but the artists’ work was an integral part of the music scene. One of the Vulcan Gas Company’s artists told Nels Jacobson, who wrote a historical essay for the book, that he remembered “being paid with coffee cans full of coins and wadded-up bills.” Yet, Jacobson adds, “The posters were so popular the printer would find young enthusiasts rooting through his trash in search of misprints and rejects.”
The opening of the Armadillo World Headquarters club in 1970 offered employment to poster artists left in the cold after Vulcan closed earlier that year, and, writes Jacobson, artists “began to exhibit a piquant, uniquely Texas flavor,” departing from the tripped-out San Francisco style and evolving a satirical point of view. “Production costs were kept to a minimum by forgoing halftones in favor of crosshatching and stippling,” as in Jim Franklin’s Springsteen and Zappa posters below.