Rock poster designer and screen print virtuoso, Chuck Sperry, is returning to Paris in person from California for a massive new exposition. Inspired and constantly exploring motifs as various as classical mythology, Art Nouveau, early 20th Century and early 1970′s typography, exploring the stars of the Rock universe, and the psychedelic 1960s, Chuck Sperry is able to impose his style upon all these various sources and inspirations.
Extolling femininity and the delicacy of floral motifs, the artist plays with the layering of materials, in a sensual intricacy that the eye can never completely resolve. Whether the subjects of Sperry’s prints are queens of the first word (Alpha and Omega) or indecisive Persephones (Widepsread Panic), Chuck Sperry’s depiction of women truthfully represent figures deeply independent and sensual.
To see more of Lil Tuffy’s concert posters, check out @lil_tuffy on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.
When it comes to designing silkscreen concert posters, Lil Tuffy (@lil_tuffy) just goes with his gut.
“I do a lot of last-minute jobs where I’ll get no lead-in time at all. It’s like this is due in three days — and that includes printing,” says the California-based artist. “When that happens, you basically have to take a walk around the block, clear your head and then just sit down and do it.”
Tuffy currently works out of a ground-floor studio in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, where he produces a wide range of intricate silkscreen prints. Past work includes colorful images of Devo, Wu-Tang Clan and Lana Del Rey.
Born in Detroit and raised in Cincinnati, Chicago and L.A., Tuffy (his real name is Terrance; “Lil Tuffy” was given to him by a friend years ago and has stuck ever since), started making posters more than a decade ago. At that point, he had been bartending and booking bands at small venues.
“I collected posters as a hobby,” he says. “So for my birthday party in 2002, I made a poster.”
The final piece snagged Tuffy a few design gigs. From there, he hooked up with the Firehouse, an art collective, and artist Chuck Sperry, where he learned how to screen print.
“I took printmaking classes [in college] but never screen printing classes,” he says. “So friends and I would break into the screen printing lab at night with like a case of beer and would make band T-shirts and stuff like that. That was the extent of my screen printing experience before then.”
Post-Firehouse, Tuffy set out on his own, connecting with San Francisco-area promoters and creating posters for their concerts. His work coincided with a renaissance of boutique poster making across the country — a throwback to the days when venues like the Fillmore would offer exclusive, custom images designed for local shows.
“I think when digital music started to become more prevalent and album covers took a back seat, posters really kind of filled that void,” says Tuffy. “And in the ‘90s when collecting seven inches in limited edition vinyl was like a big thing, posters kind of dovetailed right into that as well — this unique thing, only available at the show.”
Though he works directly with the promoters, in some cases Tuffy will collaborate with a few of his musician friends. Other times, he’ll hear from other artists about how much they admire his work.
“You’ll get an email thanking you,” he says. “They’re like, ‘Yeah. This is awesome. You nailed this one. I want to hang that on my wall.’”