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Archive for Thursday, March 26, 1998

A PRINTMAKER TAKES A BARE-BONES APPROACH WITH HIS POSTER ART.

March 26, 1998

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Enter the world of 27-year-old poster artist Brad Clark.

His studio is a collage of odd collectibles and colorful concert bills. At one end is a bed-sofa, at the other is his work table. In between is about two feet of walking space.

You could say that Clark takes a minimalist approach to his art. But the reality is he just doesn't have a lot of equipment. No high-tech screens, no expensive paints.

He uses one 40-inch-by-40-inch screen, a couple of clamps, a fluorescent light and a squeegee to create the poster art that can be seen around the country advertising rock concerts and other events.

``When I first heard `serigraphy,' I didn't know what it was,'' Clark said, explaining that he was introduced to printmaking in 1990 by some friends in Austin, Tex., who were screenprinting T-shirts.

Clark said he became interested in creating concert bills because ``I got sick of the fliers I was seeing'' around Lawrence. So he bought a screen and starting experimenting.

He eventually moved to San Francisco and started working for poster artist Chris Martin and continued to do some poster work for clients in Lawrence.

``I learned about color layering out there,'' he said. ``Chris was getting to be well known. He's more in the L.A. style -- brush and ink and tight lines -- really clean.''

Making time for art

Clark returned to Lawrence about a year ago because ``I got an offer of free rent.'' He works full time for Steve Smith of Fired Earth Designs and does his poster art in his spare time, often over his lunch breaks or late at night.

In a short amount of time, Clark has created concert bills for BR5-49, the Reverend Horton Heat, Jesus Lizard, Panel Door, The Cramps, Guided by Voices, Sixteen Deluxe and Cibo Matto. His posters for the Confederacy of Scum festival at the Outhouse last fall were so popular that he sold 200 of them at the show.

``I'm starting to get more bands who will throw them into their merchandise (booths),'' he said. `` ... Reverend Horton Heat and Jesus Lizard put them in their booths and we split the money.''

Recently, Be-Non hired Clark to produce 2,000 concert posters, all of which he will print by hand using that one screen in his cramped studio. As a result, no two posters are alike.

``The record industry guys like them,'' he said, ``and I have a guy looking at them in Japan.''

Jeff Fortier, who works for Avalanche Productions and helps bring national bands to Lawrence venues, said Clark does ``amazing posters.'' In fact, one of his Girls Against Boys posters hangs on the wall in Fortier's office.

``The BR5-49 posters didn't last a week,'' Fortier said, referring to their popularity. ``I wait to put them out four days before a show or else they all get taken.''

Clark says his posters are characterized by collaged clip art and an effect caused by a purposeful lack of registration. In some ways, his work evokes an unrefined Jasper Johns or William S. Burroughs. His average poster measures 24 inches by 29 inches.

Some of the posters even have hidden images.

``If you look close,'' he said, bending over one of his works, ``you can see a can of beans.''

Perfecting imperfections

Clark admitted that he doesn't always like his work. Take a poster he did for the

Paladins.

``I used a metal flake,'' he said, referring to a type of ink. ``I bought them all and

threw them away.

`` ... When I make a mistake, I start over from ground zero. ... They're all inherently flawed. Each is individual. I'm not trying to make the perfect print.''

The experimentation quality of his printmaking is probably what keeps Clark going.

``I find printing incredibly interesting -- like the weird processes, the thick layers (of ink) and color combinations, color decisions and messing around with design,'' he said.

Clark has a number of poster art jobs in the wings. He will be printing some bills for the upcoming Omega Festival, a Paw concert at Liberty Hall and a Hefners tour.

-- Jan Biles' phone message number is 832-7146. Her e-mail address is biles@ljworld.com.

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