The Making Of A Concert Poster

This past Sunday was the fifth installment of Save Music In Chinatown, a benefit concert series that i’ve been helping with for the last couple years. The goal, to raise money to pay for the de-funded music program at Castelar Elementary in Chinatown. My friend Martin Wong and his wife Wendy started the whole thing off after the parents at their daughter’s (Hi Eloise!) school were asked to pay for it if they wanted it to continue. I came on board through my connection to Bob Forrest. Bob played the first event and reunited with Josh Klinghoffer as The Bicycle Thief for the last event, their first public show in 13 years.

We’ve typically started brainstorming the next event almost as soon as the last one has ended and as this one was coming together I got it in my mind that I had to make a cool poster this time.


The Gears signed on first and then we got Mike Watt it seemed to me best to do something Ed Roth inspired. So my first sketch was an anthropomorphised gear.


Then that was expanded on and two thumbnails were put together.


Somewhere in there Steve Soto (of The Adolescents fame ) signed on to do a solo acoustic set, but that didn’t impact the overall design. I focused on one I liked better and did a larger drawing, it seemed to me that maybe working in a Chinese style dragon may work better than the gear with eyes. I also wanted the vehicle to be a van, inspired by Mike Watt‘s famous Econoline van.


There was a paper over lay that had the head in a different position, but that piece of scrap paper seems to have wandered off.

The next step was a more realized pencil version (which is the darker portion of the scan below) I liked it well enough that it was the core of the final penciled piece. The Chinese at the top reads roughly Save Music in Chinatown.


Since it was going to be printed, it made more sense to ink on a different piece of paper for cleaner lines (no eraser smudging that way). I used a light box to achieve that.


I then scanned the piece in. All finishes, color, text etc. were produced in Photoshop. A black and white version was made from the final colored piece for handbill printing purposes and for the giant posters that are on the walls at the events.

B&W Poster for Flyers

The giant poster can be seen prominently behind the band in most of the photos, i was also working sound at the event, so I didn’t bring along a proper photo camera, but here’s a few photos I did get.

Mike Watt + The Secondmen


The Gears


Steve Soto was supposed to headline as an acoustic set, but it turned out that he brought along his very notable band, The Adolescents. A surprise for everyone and a much smaller show than the thousands of folks they usually play to.


Somebody ended up buying the large posters and getting the bands to sign them. Definitely a cool show for a good cause. Can’t wait to see what comes together for the next one. Mark your calendars, Sunday May 31st. Be there.


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