2021 was spent indoors. Tied to screens. Travel ceased. No conventions. No gallery exhibits. No concerts. Art still persisted. There was a stress and darkness inside the pandemic, but these posters helped ease the strain of the quarantine. This is a collection of my favorite releases on the year, listed in no particular order.
It is hard to look back on the year and not connect the joy delivered by each poster I collected to the isolation of quarantine. Art as window. Release. Escape. With that I must say thank you to all of those out there making art for me to collect and admire, fawn over and share with family and friends. Each of you warm this house.
‘Jimi Hendrix, Monterey 1967’ by Richey Beckett
This year saw a lot of great posters from Iconic, highlighting iconic performances from the rock and roll pantheon. UK illustrator Richey Beckett enters the collection with his take on Jimi Hendrix and his 1967 Monterey performance. This poster is a stunning coupling of Beckett’s classic ink stippling technique and his recent explorations in color washes.
Beckett perfectly captures the era of Hendrix — the psychedelic flourishes of cloud and smoke, the eruption of Hendrix’s clothes taking on the role of his performance. Beckett tapped into another world, a very specific time and energy, delivering a timeless portrait of Hendrix and his music.
‘The Hills Are Alive’ by Ben Ashton
Artist Ben Ashton‘s portfolio is rife with portraits impeccably crafted in a classical manner, then disrupted with joyful abandon. In The Hills Are Alive the figure is caught mid-song, casting The Sound of Music in the dank growth and somber sky of a foreign land. This is a great print in person.
‘David Bowie Station To Station Isolar Tour 1976’ by Sara Deck
Another poster from the Iconic series, Sara Deck‘s take on David Bowie’s 1976 tour in support of his album Station to Station is blinding.
There is an unreal smoothness to Deck’s screenprinted work — there are no crisp key lines, just pure subtle shifts of color building up each form. She casts Bowie in otherworldly light, grounded yet spectral. A piece of art even a non-Bowie fan could love. Also, hats off to the printer of this poster. Again, unreal.
‘The Trapper’ by Kevin Tong
The Trapper is an art print of a film poster illustrator Kevin Tong created for UK based poster powerhouse Black Dragon Press, and as I have not seen the film it is based on (Dersu Uzala) I picked up this version. The Trapper is a sibling in spirit to Tong’s 2015 art print Amor Fati with both exploring the epic nature of life, the history of others that we walk alongside.
Tong’s two trappers watch as the day ends, a top a mountain representing their prey, the danger of the wilderness. It’s a calm between violence and the pace of the natural world. Tong focuses on the fate of both the trappers and their potential prey, and lays blame on either. Both sides are doing as their intuition leads.
‘Shin Godzilla’ by Florian Bertmer
German born artist Florian Bertmer has the amazing skill of rendering comic book characters with utter realness, never losing that sense of play they were built from. Bertmer’s Shin Godzilla is simply a slab of beautiful beast, aglow in violent green.
Bertmer captures the unreal reality of movie magic, but pushes beyond to deliver a poster where the creature is the hero, villain — the everything. Pure fun.
‘964 Pinocchio’ by Lucas Peverill
UK based illustrator Lucas Peverill is at his best when he lets loose and the wildness flows. In his 964 Pinocchio poster, Peverill goes full on and matches the insanity of Shozin Fukui’s 1991 film.
Peverill’s composition is chaos contained — bound to the canvas with the series of vertical neon lights. If you had never heard of the film about the memory-wiped sex slave cyborg suffering from erectile disfunction, then Peverill made a poster designed to bring you into the fold.
‘Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs’ by Taylor Dolan
Illustrator Taylor Dolan is a gift to the limited edition poster world. This Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs release with Mondo shows why. Dolan has a wild freedom of shape and form, and here, beneath her take of Disney’s classic terror trees, is the inherently pure and personable qualities she brings to her work. A Disney property has not been this infused with playful weirdness since the early days of concept artists like Gustaf Tenngren and Kay Nielsen.
‘David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars Final Concert’ by Matt Ryan Tobin
The second David Bowie poster I’ve picked this year, and the third from the Iconic series by Collectionzz. Canadian illustrator Matt Ryan Tobin‘s take for David Bowie’s last tour as Ziggy Stardust is phenomenal. Tobin casts Bowie as a temple, the universe held within. It’s a stoic take on an ever-changing figure.