Built to Last: the first phase of Stay Strange SF

As a teenager the walls of my bedroom were plastered with flyers from hardcore shows that I went to in the DC area (and a few I wished I could have.) The artwork was basic and raw, almost always limited to black and white unless it was printed on colored paper. To me, they were badges of honor and the local band’s equivalent to the glossy posters of Curt Cobain that other teenagers had up on their walls.

I would seek out new flyers whenever I went to Smash in Georgetown or wait for someone to hand me one outside the Kaffa House in Columbia Heights. In every city across the country there were places for people like me to find out about upcoming shows and pick up these low-bro works of art. It combined my love of punk rock and my interest in design and I have been a collector ever since.

I loved all those shitty pieces of photocopied paper, but I would be especially stoked when I got a flyer adorned with Linas Garsys’ artwork. When I finally got my hands on one, I studied it and kept it preserved like Michelangelo himself hit the copy button at Kinko’s. Garsys is not a well know artist, but he and show flyer art in general, made one of the most profound and lasting impressions on my artistic style.

In the poster I created for our 'Stay Strange, San Francisco' campaign this influence is obvious. The stark black and white illustrations and hand drawn type would be just as fitting on a flyer stapled to a light post as it is on this screen printed poster. For better or for worse, no matter how much I try to explore and dabble in fine art, graffiti, or design my work always returns to the two basic elements of show flyers: simple illustrations and manipulated type.

However, with the 'Stay Strange' poster I wanted to make something more permanent than your average flyer. The standard letter or half -letter size flyers that covered my bedroom walls had a limited life span.  For this reason, I decided to increase the size to 12.5 x 19in and use a heavier, more durable paper. Screen printing instead of photocopying each poster also elevates the final product, yet still uses a technique that many punk, hardcore, and metal kids have taught themselves at one time or another.

The technical process of creating this poster was fairly straightforward. In short: after sketching some thumbs and choosing a direction, I created a full size drawing in pencil.  Then I scanned it, tweaked it in Illustrator, and screen printed it on black, French Construction paper.

Indicative to many punk flyers, the meaning surpasses the artistic visual influence. This poster is a plea for social action against what I and many others see as a negative shift in San Francisco’s culture. Often blamed on the increasing rent prices and growing presence of the corporate tech industry, the culture here has taken a conservative turn. If you live here you’re well aware of the issues that we are addressing. What we’re asking for is to simply keep San Francisco as a place that welcomes the culture of artists, musicians, freaks, and weirdos that flourish here and make it such a vibrant, creative and strange place to live.  

If you’re interested in ordering a poster they’re currently available for $20 through our Kickstarter campaign here



Mike and the MI Dudes

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