Concert posters first sprang to life in the 1960s in San Francisco as a way to advertise shows. But, as in many cases, these advertisements soon turned into art. Today, this trend continues, partially as a replacement for the album covers that used to visually express a band or a tour.
I don’t know about you, but the last time I bought a physical CD was at least six months ago, and the cover was nothing special. In fact, the only CD I own and can remember for its value as a visual piece is Mika’s “Life in Cartoon Motion.”
In today’s digital world, album covers no longer carry the clout they used to — and that’s where concert posters come in. Some designers say these posters have caused the rebirth of American illustration, and while you’re free to agree or disagree, one thing’s for sure: they’ve become an art form all their own.
“Gig posters,” as the cool kids call them, are a new phenomenon for me — so I guess I wasn’t one of the cool kids. But as soon as I started researching this story and immersing myself in the online poster scene, I quickly came to see why they are such a popular and collectible medium.
Screenprinters, graphic designers and illustrators alike have made their names drawing up limited edition posters for artists from Phish to John Mayer. Not only are these posters works of art fit to hang on apartment walls across the country and across social-economic lines, but they are highly collectible, too.
Some gig posters are available to the masses at huge concert venue merchandise stands, but most are made in limited runs and sell out in minutes on sites such as GigPosters.com. Still others are only sold at one-time shows and small venues, so the value of these posters is supplemented by the of status of obtaining one.
I don’t own any of these status symbols, but I have found some favorites among the online catalogs. Below are my ten favorite modern day gig posters for your viewing pleasure.
Yes, John Mayer is my musical weakness, but I promise that’s not why I chose this poster. I love the “screen printed in my garage” vibe of it, not to mention the classic color combo and charming lettering along the bottom.
Disagree with some of my choices? Have some favorite posters of your own? Feel free to link to the images in the comments. Happy poster hunting!