American Artifact chronicles the rise of American rock poster art since its birth in the ’60s.
Director Merle Becker crosses the country interviewing rock poster artists from the different eras to discover that America is currently in the midst of a 21st century “rock poster art movement”, where thousands of artists around the country are doing silk screened rock poster art inspired by their local scene, the music of our time, and the spirit of our era.
The film explores the history / rise of the current rock poster movement in America, and features a cast of quirky / interesting, and extremely talented rock poster artists, talking about their work, and telling the story of their underground art movement.
Beginning in the 1960s in San Francisco with the birth of the dance concert, a rock poster accompanied almost every show that was put on during that era. Soon, people began pulling the posters off of the telephone poles, almost as quickly as they were put up, and promoters such as Bill Graham started to give them out at the end of his shows to advertise the next week’s show.
The art, both beautiful and edgy, closely parallels the changes in American culture throughout the decades.
“Posters” in the ’80s were actually “flyers” done for punk shows on Xerox machines in local libraries, or at Kinko’s. They were glued to buildings and phone poles surreptitiously at night by kids in the scene. In this pre-computer era, the flyers were, for lack of a better comparison “the MySpace of the ’80s”.
Today, America is seeing a resurgence in this art form brought upon by the popularity of websites like GigPosters.com, and the ease of screenprinting. Artists like EMEK, Tara McPherson, and Jay Ryan are creating beautiful works of art for contemporary groups like The Decemberists and Death Cab For Cutie.
This extraordinary film, which includes interviews with over 30 artists, takes the viewer on a journey through the different decades and incarnations of this rebellious art form, and spends time with, arguably, some of the finest artists of this era talking about what inspired their truly American works of art. Now available on DVD