For the fifth year in a row the SXSW festival in Austin has featured the Flatstock poster show with some of the best original gig posters from around the world on display and for sale. I’ve attended each of these and filed a report: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.
In previous years I went with the intention of providing a broad review of the show, purchased quite a few posters and gathered info on a lot of artists. This year I went with a more focused intent. I decided to limit my goal to the purchase of only three posters, the three best on a common theme, but of different styles. As I viewed the posters the theme I settled on was depictions of women smoking.
The show was actually smaller than in previous years, having to share space with a band gear show. Nonetheless there were still some great artists there, including some of the best from previous years and some new ones as well.
Interestingly, as I went through the hall and selected my three favorite posters, they all turned out to be made by British designers, two of them ones I had seen last year and wanted, but not bought. A poster for Band of Skulls by WeThreeClub from Leeds, a triptych design for The Melvins by JackKnife Studio of Bristol, and a trippy poster for The Zombies by Mishka Westell, a British expat living in Austin and designing in the traditional Austin poster style, notable for her series of posters for legendary Austin musician Roky Erikson.
The three posters I selected really are outstanding, with images that are at once dramatic and alluring, as well as showing impressive artistic originality. Great examples of the poster designers art and great additions for my collection.
Flatstock has always been exclusively for poster sales, but there were a couple of interesting exceptions this year, like the booth for the Adventures in Design podcast, which held live interviews right in the middle of the show. It was a deviation from the usual program, but a good one and the podcast is worth checking out if you like to hear insights about the business of poster design from people in the industry, including the current round of shows direct from Flatstock 48.