Flatstock Rock Poster Shows

If you like poster art and music, you’ll love the Flatstock Rock Poster shows put on by the American Poster Institute. Occurring in conjunction with some of the world’s most iconic music festivals, the event features a chance to meet the artists who create the art, with prints bought direct, at great prices.

Starting in March at SXSW in Austin Texas, Flatstock then moves across the ocean to Barcelona, Spain and the Primavera Festival at the end of May. In July, it visits the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, then Bumbershoot in Seattle on the Labour Day weekend. The year finishes at the Reperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany. In the decade since the first Flatstock, the poster and street art movement has spread from north America and taken hold in Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa. Many of the artists hold prominent positions in advertising and graphic firms, and continuously win major design awards, influencing the very look of contemporary art and graphic design.

My first taste of Flatstock occurred when I was assigned by my editor at Screenprinting Magazine to do a story on the Rebirth of the Rock Poster. I had been participating on the forums at gigposters.com, and knew a bunch of the participants over the net, but I was unprepared for the live reality. What I discovered was an interlinked world of some of the most creative people on the planet, who also turned out to be some of the funniest characters I’ve ever met. Soon after I got sucked into the Flatstock vortex, and found myself –with encouragement by the API – setting up live printing demos at the events. I now attend the Austin and Seattle events, and work with local printers (Coronado Studio in Austin, and Vera Project in Seattle) to help produce the screenprinting demonstrations.

The demo prints fulfill one of the mandates of the API – to educate the public about screenprinting and posters. Each event, up to 8 of the exhibiting artists will provide a multicolor print to be made ‘on-site’. This provides an opportunity for the public to see the various steps required to make one of the prints hanging on everyone’s walls. They ask questions (lots of questions!) and sometimes we let them pull a few prints. You can see some of the prints we have made at Flatstock here.

The true beauty of the Flatstock shows is the chance for the audience and the attending artists to intermingle. There are no dealers, only makers – and the art is extremely affordable. With so many artists from around the world, working in different styles, poster fans are sure to find something they like, and talk directly with the creators of the work. Inspiration is contagious at Flatstock. Make plans to visit and get infected with the rock poster bug.

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Andy MacDougall is a screenprinting advocate, trainer and consultant based in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. He's a member of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology as well as the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association and the America Poster Institute. The best way to get in touch with Andy is by sending him an email to andy@squeegeeville.com.