I Want to be Art Chantry

Art ChantryWhen my interest in graphic design started, one of the first things that caught my attention were the primitive, often cheezy, ads of the 50s and 60s that were found in magazines, comics and flyers. The sort of stuff created quickly by some unnamed art guy and then promptly packaged and sold off to hundreds of printing firms across the country as camera-ready art…or as we know it nowadays, clipart.

Something about the lighthearted earnestness of the illustrations charmed me to no end and started a quest for any examples I could find. Not too soon afterwards I hit paydirt at a community newspaper I worked at. A pal and I came across a huge folder of images which were destined for the trash. We not only rescued them, but also gave them a second life by using them for comedic illustrations we’d pass around the office.

Around this time local music pals also started using similar images in their fanzines. It worked perfectly with the esoteric, rebellious, anarchic music they were writing about. I too started a fanzine using lots of my new wacky clipart, but neglected to come up with the main thing I needed…content. As a big follower of the NYC garage rock scene at the time, I felt the art captured the perfect balance of irreverence and irony. Apparently I was not the only one.

It was around this time I came across Art Chantry’s work. Seattle-based, Art had not only loved these images as well, but was able to skillfully blend the art with the garage music on a much grander scale. At the time I couldn’t believe someone else grabbed the idea, but the more I saw of his work, the more it became clear to me this guy could do what none of us ever could. I mean, he also liked the same music as us….how could we not like him?

Art’s posters are now collectors items and a few are even in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. So, obtaining one is sorta beyond my reach. Still, I find it incredibly amusing to know MOMA has some garage band in their collection that only a small miniscule percentage of its audience would even know….much less have heard. And for that I respect Art tremendously.

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