The psychedelic art movement happened from the 1960’s to around 1975. The movement was an art style that depicted and symbolized the use of hallucinatory drugs such as LSD which became popular during the hippie culture movement. The art movement was also influenced by Art Nouveau and Pop Art.
Posters for rock concerts and art for album covers tried to visually articulate the feeling you get from tripping out on hallucinogenic drugs. The designs would have abstract swirls of intense color with curvilinear calligraphy and shapes (Graphic Design History, 2017).
1967 was the peak year for psychedelic rock music. It was the year the Beatles released their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band which The Rolling Stones deemed the best album of all time. Popular albums by Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and The Grateful Dead were also released.
1. Wes Wilson
Wes Wilson is known as being the father of 60’s psychedelic rock posters. He is most well known for designing posters for Bill Graham of the The Fillmore in San Francisco. His style became symbolic of the peace and hippie movement and the psychedelic era. He is also known for creating a psychedelic font which had letters that looked like they were moving or melting. He created this font in around 1966. An example of the font can be seen in his artwork below.
He had a style of filling available space with lettering, creating fluid forms made from letters, and using letters to create shapes. Most psychedelic artists began to follow his style and it became a standard in psychedelic art.
(Wes Wilson, 1966)
(Wes Wilson, 1966)
(Wes Wilson, 1966)
2. Victor Moscoso
Victor Moscoso was an academically trained graphic designer. He became one of the most respected psychedelic poster designers. He was influenced by Art Nouveau, comic books, Pop Art, and Victorian images. He designed his posters for the psychedelic culture that emerged in San Francisco in the 1960’s. He designed evocative, vivid, erotic, and patterned posters (transpersonalspirit, 2017). He used hand made fonts, photo collage, and op art in his designs.
He created vibrating colors in his design by taking colors from the opposite end of the color wheel, each one having equal value (dark to light) and intensity (brightness) (Graphic Design History, 2017). He did the opposite of what he was taught in color training. The text in his posters were difficult to read unless the viewer took the time to stare at the image to sort out the dazzling effects of the intense patterns and contrasting colors (transpersonalspirit, 2017). His vivid colors and patterns gave the look and feel of when someone is using hallucinogenic drugs.
3. Peter Max
Peter Max is well known for his psychedelic art forms and bold style of painting. In the 1960’s he began his career by opening a small arts studio. He had a different style where he would combine antique photographic images, bold colors, and collages. He loved science so he would have elements of astronomy in his artworks which lead to the “cosmic 60’s” that was characterized by the psychedelic and hippie culture.
His art became popular and his posters could be seen on the walls of colleges. His artworks contained unique symbolism and expressionism and they were reminiscent of the hippie culture. He is a strong supporter of human and animal rights similar to hippies. Some of his artworks would have the peace symbol in them and also the word love.
Graphic Design History. (2017). Psychedelic 60s. [online] Available at: https://visualartsdepartment.wordpress.com/psychedelic-60s/ [Accessed 5 Sep. 2017].
Wes Wilson. (2017). Bill Graham Presents. [online] Available at: http://www.wes-wilson.com/bill-graham-presents.html [Accessed 5 Sep. 2017].
transpersonalspirit, V. (2017). Psychedelic Poster Art: Victor Moscoso. [online] Transpersonal Spirit. Available at: https://transpersonalspirit.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/psychedelic-poster-art-victor-moscoso/ [Accessed 5 Sep. 2017].
Thefamouspeople.com. (2017). Who is Peter Max? Everything You Need to Know. [online] Available at: https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/peter-max-4062.php [Accessed 5 Sep. 2017].
CultureMap Austin. (2017). Pop icon Peter Max talks Austin, Marilyn Monroe — and the universe. [online] Available at: http://austin.culturemap.com/news/arts/10-16-14-pop-icon-peter-max-russell-collection/ [Accessed 5 Sep. 2017].