To celebrate our first contest ever (now closed) on the blog, here is, for the first time, ladies and gentlemen, the first ever "poster interview" entirely focused on a single print. David Welker has been nice enough to open fire for us with his wonderful Bob Dylan poster printed by Ray McDermott in Boulder Colorado. Many thanks to him !
Hi ! Last time we "met" for the blog, you told me you would like to do something for Dr Dog, is still this a dream ?
I haven't had a chance to contact them yet and I'm not sure if my agency has either. It's been such a busy year. We are lucky just to keep up with the current workload.
I have a short list of bands and artists that I'd love to work with in the coming year and Dr. Dog is still one of the ones at the top. I love their attitude and sense of humor.
Well, for the moment, we are here to talk about your Bob Dylan poster, first of all some "technical" points :) Where and when did this show take place ?
The show was the grand reopening of the historic Capitol Theatre in Port Chester New York on September 4th. Pete Shapiro is the new owner of the theatre and he's become a huge force in the music industry. Some people liken him to a sort Bill Graham for our times. He wanted to start things off in a big way so he asked Dylan to play the inaugural performance.
Are you, yourself, fan of Bob Dylan ?
I've listened to him in many of his incarnations since my childhood growing up in the late 60's and early 70's. I was always fascinated with his epic, narrative songs like "Simple Twist of Fate", "Tom Thumb's Blues", "Hurricane", "Black Diamond Bay", "Joey" ect.
The storytelling pieces interested me more than his overtly political stuff even though there were always deep sociopolitical metaphors happening in almost everything he did.
I dont think there is another songwriter who is able to lead the listener down a long narrative path in such a poetic way.
The poster was commissioned by Pete Shapiro and the Capitols Theatre's media team. Apparently they spent a couple months negotiating with Dylan's team over the concept of a theatre produced, grand opening, limited edition poster. Dylan is not known for his poster art despite the success of the 2010 posters from Chuck Sperry and Ken Taylor.
Did you have guidelines for this one or were you entirely free ?
I told everyone from the beginning that I didn't want to do another Dylan portrait poster. I submitted a pencil sketch with some hand drawn typography and this giant bird crashing into the ocean and the media team told me to run with it. It was approved and rejected about ten times over the course of a months time until we finally got the green light to start printing a week before the show.
Where did this idea of the "oceanic scene" come from ? Does this have any relationship with a Dylan song ?
The bird crashing into the sea is a multiple metaphor for human folly. The bird seen as a dove is a symbol of peace and grace and he and the shark have been ensnared with the ties of a civilization itself in peril. I feel like Dylan has been painting these types of poetic archetypes for decades. I was listening to "Jokerman" during the entire sketching and inking process. That song is a masterpiece of encoded allegory and metaphor. It seems to automatically evoke subconscious iconography.
The seeing eye at the top of the piece represents Dylan's ability to see beyond the false facades of humanity and the lighthouse is a direct reference to "All Along The Watchtower".
I added the word "Positively" on a flowing scroll in the upper right of the sky as a trigger or conceptual escape from the turmoil of the imagery. It's also a reference to "Positively" 4th Street".
The new album "Tempest" also has another epic number about the Titanic. Knowing this during the process I felt the imagery might have additional relevance to his current work.
Is there any XIXth century illustration style inspiration in this poster ?
I've always looked to Nineteenth Century art as a source of inspiration, but I honestly don't have a specific reference for this illustration.
How many prints did you make ?
The main edition is 150 with 30 Artists Proofs.
Did you receive feedback from Dylan ?
When musicians graduate to becoming rock stars they almost always delegate art direction to one or more managerial entities. In Dylan's case he moved from musician to rock star to superstar to living legend decades ago, so I never expected direct feedback from him.
From his fans ?
I received a lot of nice emails from Dylan fan's inquiring about the poster.
From your fans ?
The response was really nice.
Have you already worked with Dylan before this one ?
This is my first poster for Dylan.