Posts Tagged ‘graphic art’



[Patrick Woodroffe's book cover for his book Mythopoeikin]The end of the 1970s was an amazingly creative time.  A lot of genres were mixing together, and mixing with new technology too.  County music went electric and gave birth to Country Rock, Jazz fused with world music and synthesisers — and so boundaries were challenged and blurred.  Music and art became one in the album cover, and there was a great new interest in graphic design, logos, typefaces and fonts.  Yes had Roger Dean, Hypgnosis had Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead had Mouse and Rick Griffin.

Punk used strong imagery too — ransom note styles and punk fashion thanks to Malcolm McLaren. Comic book covers were getting sophisticated with fantasy art images by the likes of Boris Vallejo.

In those few short years at the end of the 1970s, the creative arts exploded.

And in 1978 I bought Mythopoeikon by Patrick Woodroffe, and my mates and I tried to copy the fantasy styles of Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, Roger Dean and Patrick Woodroffe as we experimented with air brushing art onto vans and hairy bikers’ leather jackets.

Fantasy was a brand new genre at the time, and offered an escape from the bleak economic climate, nuclear cold war and doomsayer inevitabilities. Woodroffe was a Big Star at the time.

The Big Image for me at the time was a book cover for The Billion Year Spree by Brian Aldiss as it was photo-realistic art — but it was nevertheless eyes on lighted candles. The wax drip runs resembled tears, and somehow it was an image that endured in the mind. Of course it made no actual sense, nor was it making any philosophic point. But still.

I found that, on his website, Patrick has this image as an album cover by the Strawbs:

[Art of eyes as candles by Patrick Woodroffe]

We LOVED Woodroffe’s  Budgie and Judas Priest covers — and of course, his famous Greenslade ones.  You know, we actually bought records because of the artwork! This is something lost when the music business switched to CD — and now that this is broken, people can just download MP3 files.  maybe they should bring back the art?

But the link to fantasy is the strongest with Woodroffe for me.  I read a lot of fantasy at the time, including The Lord of The Rings, but also the newer stuff — one that stands out in my memory is The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever (by Stephen R Donaldson). The first of the trilogy came out in the late 70s, and we had to wait until the next one was written and published, and again.

This period was like that; we were always waiting for the next release or publication — magazines, comics, books, albums, books, movies — you name it , things were in a series and fans were “locked in”.

You were always on the look-out for sub-cultural references, and cross-pollination, so there was a great delight to discover that  Jaco Pastorius played for Weather Report — but also played on Joni Mitchell albums, or that a browse around a second-hand book shop would unearth a book with a cover by Woodroffe — such as I did with The Seedbearers by Peter Valentine Timlett:

[Woodroffe book cover The Seedbearers]

I loved Mythopoeikon — and still have it.  It was my very first “coffee table book”, my first “art book”, and I have travelled with it as a very important part of my youth when I have sold or given away an enormous amount over the years.




[Dirt Harry Movie Poster by Olly Moss]At he time of writing, Olly Moss has no entry on Wikipedia, and I am not up to the task.  Perhaps someone out there could make the effort? He is certainly deserving.

Olly is a young graphic designer with a good eye. I first saw evidence of this with his “Dirt Harry” movie poster. Clint Eastwood’s face or a smoking gun. That’s pretty clever I thought.

Then I saw a similar work of his. This was every more amazing, but the same type of graphic illusion, it was the poster for the movie, “American Werewolf in London“.

[Movie Poster by Olly Moss of American Werewolf in London]

Come on, how clever is that image? Apart from the loss of A Country The Size of Wales, or as in this case, Wales itself, it is still a map of Britain, and it takes a minute to see the wolf.  Sublime.

He really is worthy 0f anyone’s attention.  there are loads of posters, book and Nintendo and Playstation games covers and much more on his website at Please check out his work, and spread the word.




RICK GRIFFIN was another hero and huge influence on me and my generation.

[Picture of Rick Griffin's Murphy Comic]Griffin, Mouse, Kelley and Robert Crumb were they guys we all wanted to be, man. We all got technical pens, Staedtler Mars and Rotring pens or rapidographs, and started doing our own comics in the new style that was inhabited by Fat Freddie’s Cat and The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

[Picture of Comic Strip by Griffin: Murphy]I guess most kids today would associate “Cowabunga” with Bart Simpson, but it was Rick Griffin’s “Murphy” that coined the term way back in the 1970s. His impact has been so great that “Griffin” is today a surfing area in California, USA.

“Murphy” was a big influence on comics and comic book artists, of that there is no doubt in my mind. If you look at how Rick drew Murphy’s hair, it is plain that this style has informed Dennis The Menace and even the Fat Slags from Viz!

[Picture of Griffin artwork: Murphy Sez] [Picture of Dennis the Menace] [Picture of Fat Slags comic by Viz]

It was in his later psychedelic period, along with Kelley and Mouse, that we discovered Rick Griffin — through the artwork he did for the likes of The Grateful Dead, Jackson Browne and Man.

[Picture of Grateful Dead Album Cover] [Picture of Griffin's Jackson Browne Bonnie Raitt LP Art]

[Picture of Man album cover] [Picture of Grateful Dead Album: Blues for Allah]

I was always struck by his lettering; he seemed to have a way with incorporating the words into the work. Griffin and Roger Dean were the big influence here.

I would say that Rick Griffin has been massively influential in graphic art — lettering, fonts, typefaces, logos and even tattoos and graffiti!

I would go further and state that Griffin has been one of the most powerful and influential artists that have ever lived.

If you think about it, there is a close association between bands like The Grateful Dead, and bikers like the Hell’s Angels.  An entire sub-culture has adopted Griffin’s skulls and lettering — for decorating vans, motorcycle petrol tanks, helmets, leather jackets, tattoos and graffiti.  This has bled into today’s diverse scenes — such as from Hip Hop to Marilyn Manson — from Rappers and Sk8ers to Goths, and Moshers. The biker theme has moved into heavy metal, and Griffin himself worked on album art for bands like The Cult.

  • UPDATE: 2009-05-12: Just this year, Rick Griffin is THE designer accessory in the world of fashionable shoes for BMX, Moto-X, and Snowboarding — check out Vans and Vault — especially Vans.Vault 2009 Collection.

[Picture of Grateful Dead cover art]I can even see stuff Griffin did that must have influenced HR Geiger (and therefore the style of Alien films and loads of Science Fiction). Monochromatic, filled with skulls and bones, yet somehow mechanised by being in mechanised scenarios, if you see what I mean.

Oddly enough, especially when you consider all of the above, what Rick griffin did next was a real surprise — he became a Jesus freak!  This caused a great fuss in the comic book and album art world at the time — not a lot of people could get their heads round that one.

Here’s an interesting article about Griffin as a Christian Comic Artist — at:- Strangely enough, another hero of mine — Dudley D Watkins was a huge cultural figure, comic artist and Christian comic artist.  Weird.

A really good gallery site is maintained here:

Finally, and even though Rick was killed on his Harley back in 1991, he somehow still has an “official” website: