Monday, June 2, 2008

JADE: Wes Wilson

Wes Wilson, the amazing 60's poster artist.

Wilson was born in 1937, in Sacramento, California. The family lived near Placerville, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. During his early childhood his parents separated, and he lived with his mother, a school-teacher whose employment ranged across Northern California, from the Sierra foothills to the Salinas Valley.

Robert Wesley Wilson came late to art, and through a side door. Before that he was a student of philosophy and religion, which was also unlikely. By his own account, except for schoolwork, he had done very little reading before age eighteen.

Wilson did have an interest technical things; he was attracted to the high-tech ideas and illustrations in the Popular Mechanics magazines of the 1940s and 50s, and had taken mechanical and architectural drawing classes in high school. In 1959 he obtained a summer job in an architect's office in San Francisco.

Wes’s posters were an incredible kaleidoscope of vibrant acid colors with highly creative hand-drawn lettering and illustration to promote gigs for bands like Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and The Byrds.

“As I began to re-familiarize myself with the style of the posters, it didn't take long for me to establish that I was on territory I knew only too well. Influences such as the Art Nouveau movement, Victorian and Edwardian display lettering and a philosophy inspired by the great French poster designers of the late 1800s, who harmonized form, colour and typography, were styles that I studied avidly during my own typographic apprenticeship. These are the very same influences that helped Wes Wilson establish his poster design style that became his trademark.” - Colin Brignall

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