15 October 2009

Wes Wilson

(Wes Wilson Poster For band Grateful Dead In San Francisco)

When we think of Wes Wilson psychedelic neon colours, barely legible type and Art Nouveau stylised woman flash to mind. His work bares strong elements of Art Nouveau, and is inspired by the 19th century, from both poster designs and the typographical works of Austrian designer Alfred Roller. Wilson developed these elements into the 60’s with a bold confidence and free spirited flare.

(19th Century Poster Examples)

From 19th century poster examples you will find elegant women illustrated with free flowing organic curvy lines, and for 19th century standards quite provocatively positioned. Wilson’s 60’s mind frame took these elements further in his designs, portraying his elegant women even more provocatively and in a more organic abstract style.

(Wes Wilson Poster, The Sound)

I was surprised to find when researching into Wilson’s type influences just how strongly he had followed the style of the font “1990’s” by Alfred Roller (below), a very organic and free style of font. Wilson developed this style by taking the lettering and warping it to fit either around or as part of the image. This ads an enormous amount of detail to the design and gives the impression of a plant that has grown around the poster over time. Although this would often render the type difficult to read it was a bold statement for design and against tradition.

Alfred Roller one of Wilson’s strong influences was part of an Austrian Art Nouveau movement called the Viennese Secession. Starting at the end of the 19th Century their style broke away from the floral designs of French Nouveau and was a political statement against tradition, society and the art industry itself. They stood for freedom of expression, not unlike the ideals of the 60’s. Wilson brought these principals into the mid 20th century with more psychedelic, provocative and bold designs. It was the 60’s own artistic protest against tradition and it’s own society.

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