Widespread Panic’s “Poster Children”

On November 25, 2013, in News, by Ben Marks


On Fri­day Novem­ber 29, 2013, Wide­spread Panic releases its much-anticipated new book, “Poster Chil­dren,” which chron­i­cles 25 years of Panic posters, from the cheap pho­to­copies cre­ated to get the word out about their lat­est gig at the Uptown Lounge in their home­town of Athens, Geor­gia, to the limited-edition screen­prints pro­duced for shows at Red Rocks, the Fox, and other sto­ried venues. At 320 pages and with more than 400 images, the hard­back book fea­tures art­work and artist state­ments by Jeff Wood (who did the book’s cover, shown above), Chuck Sperry, Marq Spusta, Emek, J.T. Luc­ch­esi, and Chris Bil­heimer, who also designed “Poster Children.”

For an arti­cle I wrote over at CollectorsWeekly.com, I was for­tu­nate enough to speak to all six of these artists, each of whom gave me a peek behind the scenes at how the Panic poster pro­gram got started and how it’s evolved. I also got to speak with Panic bassist Dave Schools, who is a cham­pion of rock posters in gen­eral and a big believer in giv­ing Panic’s rock-poster artists the free­dom to do their thing.

Below is an excerpt from my arti­cle. You can read the rest here:

Wide­spread Panic co-founder and bassist Dave Schools remem­bers well those ancient evenings when he used to cre­ate the art­work him­self for many of his band’s early fly­ers, “obvi­ously,” he says with a laugh, remark­ing on his artis­tic tal­ents. “The mid-’80s was the height of the DIY era,” he recalls. “You went to Kinko’s in the mid­dle of the night when your buddy was work­ing and ran off 150 free hand­bills and stuck them up all over town, usu­ally in the shad­ows, try­ing not to get caught.” Later, like other bands, Panic would rely on pro­mot­ers to pro­duce the posters to get the word out about their shows. “To see how far posters have come since then, and how cel­e­brated they are now, has been quite a jour­ney for me.”

Poster artist J.T. Luc­ch­esi, whose work could be described as big-impact illus­tra­tion, has shared much of that jour­ney, begin­ning his almost 25-year rela­tion­ship with the band as a fan. “My first Wide­spread Panic show was in Atlanta in 1990,” he recalls. “I had to get my dad to get me in because they were play­ing bars at the time and I was under age.” By 1992, when he and an equally enter­pris­ing friend were already run­ning their own T-shirt print shop, Luc­ch­esi began fol­low­ing the band around, sell­ing unli­censed Wide­spread Panic-inspired shirts in the park­ing lot to fel­low fans before and after the show. “We would give the band and their crew like two dozen of our shirts,” he says, “so we kind of got on good terms with them.”

Mean­while, the band was notic­ing that its fans were increas­ingly inter­ested in the posters cre­ated for its shows. “When we started play­ing shows at the Warfield in San Fran­cisco,” says Schools of Panic’s shows there in 1996 and 1997, “Bill Graham’s peo­ple would pass out these posters for free to the crowd after the shows. We’d be like, ‘Why is every­body leav­ing so quickly at the end of the last song?’ And then we real­ized it was because that’s when they were giv­ing away the posters in front of the theater.”

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Pictures from the Festival of Rock Posters 2013

On October 25, 2013, in Photos, by Nick

A heart­felt THANK YOU to every­one who came out to sup­port the art com­mu­nity at the Fes­ti­val of Rock Posters. It was great to see old friends and make some new ones too. We hope to do it again next year. Until then, enjoy these pictures.

Pho­tos by Ron Schaeffer


Pho­tos by Loretta Baraona


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