A gig poster acts as the visual beacon that connects the band to the audience — for that one moment in time, this band was here, and so were you. It’s a strange union between performer and audience, but having that poster somehow grounds it. That memento gives it form.
Austin based illustrator Todd Slater has supplied concertgoers with souvenirs of performances by bands such as Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Fleetwood Mac, Jack White, and Radiohead for over a decade. Slater’s brand of gig poster is that of storyteller — creating a narrative that flows between the band and their music.
On September 12th, Flood Gallery will release the book ‘The Rock Poster Art of Todd Slater,’ a collection of Slater’s greatest hits from 2004 through 2015. With over a decade’s worth of art to cull from, bringing the book to 288 pages of Slater’s gig posters.
Flood Gallery will have the book available for pre-order on September 10th in their shop. The first 500 orders will be accompanied by a new 9″ x 12″ art print by Todd Slater. Each will be one of four different signed and numbered screenprints, with each having an edition of 125.
‘The Rock Poster Art of Todd Slater‘ is the artist’s first collection of work, so I reached out to him to discuss the book and what happens next.
With the book covering over a decade of work, is it a comprehensive look at everything you created or are some poster left out?
The book is focused look at my gig poster work only. It doesn’t include everything but all the best work is in there. By my count the book features 245 prints each featured on a dedicated page. It’s organized by year starting with 2004 and works its way up to 2015.
When working with so many big name bands, are you making them aware that you’re doing a book? Did you need to get approval from any of them before getting the book together?
Having done this full time since 2004 the list of bands was too exhaustive to contact each individually. Some are now defunct or with different management companies, emails have changed and so forth.
Occasionally someone else owns the actual artwork which was the case for some of the early Fillmore prints which were omitted from the publication. For the most part I own the art lock, stock, and key which is very nice for publishing.
You use elements like metallic inks and foil with incredible results – were you able to replicate those techniques in the book?
The cover of the book is printed with metallic inks and I’m told it looks incredible in person. Truthfully though, there is no substitute for the magic of a screen print in offset form.
That being said each of the prints gets a dedicated page in the book at roughly one quarter the size of the original. None of that tiny thumbnail business. The cost of the book is around the price of one of my prints and I think fans of mine will be pleased.
Going through your decade of work, did you come across any forgotten prints? I’m guessing the book is full of only the hits, but were there any posters that you aren’t so hot on after the fact that you felt needed to be in the book, for prosperity’s sake?
I did the final show print for the band Luna in 2004 but the image was surprisingly rejected at the zero hour. I thought about including it and noting the story of it all but ultimately opted against it. It would take the slot of one of the prints that actually exists in the world. And truthfully, I’m not so hot on a number of the early prints from 2004-2007 but they are in there!
When you page thru the book you will absolutely see my progression. The book reads like a timeline starting with 2004. I know I appreciate seeing the search for an identity in other artists work and that is evident here. In 2004 I was 24 years old and very much learning my craft in a public place.
For a project of this size, is there any temptation to create a new poster or two, or reveal any posters that were never released or finished?
I talked with the publisher a lot about this! Ultimately, it came down to putting the strongest images in the book. If something has remained unfinished after all these years it’s probably for the best that it not see the light of day. We did create 4 exclusive screen prints that are only given to the first 500 orders. The images are reworked from my gig posters too.
Will there be a gallery show for the release of the book? A retrospective?
I don’t think so. I’m very much a mid-career artist at this point and after working on the book for a bit this year it’s time to jump right back into new work. To be honest I wasn’t expecting to put out a monolith of a book this early but the publisher was kind enough to meet all of my demands. I simply couldn’t say no.
In another 20 years or so I’ll be ready for the big retrospective. But until then it’s not time for the band to play ‘Free Bird‘ just yet.