Influential psychedelic poster designer, Wes Wilson, has died

Wes Wilson, the pioneer of psychedelic poster designs, has died aged 82.

Wilson designed posters for Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, and many others.

Wes Wilson’s spectacular designs not only grabbed an audience’s attention but bent the boundaries of poster designs for generations to come.

When many people think about the late 1960’s and the explosion of the summer of love, Wilson’s designs and images are most often one of the first things to come to mind. Wilson got his start in 1966 by designing posters for the Fillmore Auditorium’s Bill Graham.

With most band posters at the time designed to just show the artist and date, Wilson decided to take his designs a couple of quantum leaps forward. Creating wavey and colourful images, reflecting the proliferation of recreational drugs towards the end of the 1960’s, Wilsons designs called for your attention.

Bill Graham recollects a conversation he had with Wilson about his designs. Graham told Wilson, “Well, it’s nice, but I can’t read it,” to which Wilson remarked, “Yeah, and that’s why people are gonna stop and look at it.”

Wilson’s writing was supposedly easier to read for people on LSD. He himself never aimed to reach that level. “I was far enough out to be an artist, but not far enough out to go over the edge,” he described in an interview with The News-Leader.

Forever linked at the hip with psychedelia, Wilson’s influence and connection to a singular time and place will remain as colourful and spectacular as his art.