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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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


Chuck Sperry

The night before the Festival of Rock Posters kicked off in the Hall of Flowers at Golden Gate Park, there was a pre-show party at Hangar 18 in Oakland, CA. Hangar 18 (H18) is a showcase for artwork in the unique setting of Chuck Sperry’s screen printing studio in Oakland, California. The H18 Project is an ongoing pop up gallery where collectors are presented with a unique studio experience. The exhibit Hometown Disadvantage featured art by Chuck Sperry and Chris Shaw. TRPS member Ron Schaeffer was at the event and took some pictures to share. Cheers!



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TRPS Festival of Rock Posters 2013, poster by Frank Alan Bella

Our big event of the year, the TRPS Festival of Rock Posters, is set to go on Saturday October 19th. We’ll be back at the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco for the biggest poster event of its kind anywhere, and this is shaping up to be another great show with a stellar lineup of poster artists and dealers.

For a long time we’ve discussed the idea of revamping our show admission protocols to reward current TRPS members and encourage more people to join. This year we’re making it happen, and here’s how it’s going to work.

10:00 – 11:00  Admission is $20 for non-TRPS members. Admission for members is $5 as usual, and your membership needs to be current. Please bring your card to show at the door. If your membership is expired or you’re a nonmember, you pay the full admission price at the door and we refund you the $15 difference by renewing or joining at the TRPS table. We encourage you to make sure your membership is current before the show to avoid the hassle. It’s easier than ever to join or renew on our website www.trps.org. We’ve even got two new TRPS t-shirt designs to offer for the first time (by Alex Fischer and Art Chantry), and you can pick one as a membership premium.

11:00 – 3:00 Admission is $10 for non-TRPS members, and $5 for members. Just like always.

3:00 – 6:00  Admission is FREE to all. If being part of the early rush isn’t important to you, heck just come later when things have settled down a bit and get in for nothing. Hey, can’t beat that. Bring your friends and family!

The Hall of Flowers (Old County Fair Building) is just inside Golden Gate Park at the corner of Ninth and Lincoln in SF. Show hours are 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. Mark down Saturday October 19th, 2013 on your calendar. For any poster collector or fan, this is the one show you don’t want to miss.

Join the event now on Facebook.

Join the event discussion on ExpressoBeans.com.

Artists & Vendors Lineup

Alexandra Fischer
Alex Pyromallis
Amazing Adventures – Sal Dicheira
Carolyn Ferris
Casey Castille
Chris Shaw
Chuck Sperry
Classicposters.com – Mike Storeim
Cliff Yamasaki
Dave Hunter
David Singer
Dennis Loren
Derek Johnson
EMEK of EmekStudios
Eric King
Frank Alan Bella
Gary Houston
Jason Austin
John Mavroudis
John Seabury
Josh Bempechat
Kris Mikkelson
Larry Freeman
Laserium at Chabot Space & Science Museum
Lee Conklin
Matt Leunig
Marq Spusta
Pat Ryan
Paul Getchell
Paul Imagine
Perry Pfeffer
Randy Tuten
Reggie Williams – Straight Theater
Ron Donovan
Santi Pozzi
SecretSerpents.comAlan Forbes, Junko Mizuno, Justin McNeal
SF Rockposters
Shane Edward Grogg
Sherwood Donahue
Stanley Mouse
Tea Lautrec Litho
Victor Moscoso
Wes Wilson



(note: Hall of Flowers has been renamed the San Francisco County Fair Building.)

Festival of Rock Posters 2013 by Lee Conklin

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