Well, this might be the ‘dumbest’ thing I’ve ever dumb, er, done. As part of Cuneiform Press’ Music Series, we’ve been printing and designing concert posters. This one was for a punk house show. Punk? I’ve done posters for folk, country, classical, avant-garde, and rock and roll, but punk presented a new aesthetic challenge. Typically, when I design posters or books related to music, I begin by putting on a record or two by the musician, take out my sketchbook, and begin writing down words or phrases that occur to me, doodle, make allusions to colors or textures that come to mind. Then I get to work on the design more formally, keeping that musician or genre playing continuously, a way to pair sound and image as content and form.

Part of the challenge here was that there were four bands playing: Funeral Gold; Sun Machine; Dumb; and Love Cop, and I only had access to one band’s music. I was stumped. I felt dumb and daunted. I kept looking at the notes Dumb’s drummer wrote down for me with the event’s details and kept drawing a blank. Then I thought about punk’s transparency, the photocopier, and lo-fi DIY aesthetics, and thought that perhaps the drummer’s Post-It-Note could be the perfect way to let the design design itself.

I scanned it at the highest resolution possible, blew it up in Photoshop, and inverted the color (negative on positive, which of course would be reversed in the film back to the original). Then I made a large photopolymer plate and mounted it to the base in the bed of my Vandercook. I pulled a few prints on newsprint, just about the most inexpensive and ephemeral material I know of, and liked the results. But then I thought of those beautiful, if agitated, sheets that you pull out of the bowels of the copy machine when it jams: a beautiful, if agitated, jam… That’s punk to me. So, I started balling up the newsprint and unfolding it, to varying degrees, before running it thorough the press, and I liked the results. Here are a few more snapshots.