CONCERT POSTERS are quite possibly the foremost populist genre of public artwork—they give event details, yes, but also provide an entry point into a band's larger symbolic intentions. Prominent poster artist Emek knows this well: For world-renowned clients like Radiohead, the Decemberists, and Paul Simon, he tucks political and philosophical statements into concert advertisements, marrying '60s-era psychedelia with steam-punk and sci-fi imagery. As his new book Emek... The Thinking Man's Poster Artist... demonstrates, he's an artist who surpasses the commercial implications of his work.
For instance, take a poster Emek made for Erykah Badu's 2008 show in Tel Aviv. Depicting Badu at the center of the Hamsa (the hand of God) and branded with the word peace in both Arabic and Hebrew, the image implies a desire to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Emek's posters aren't all so overtly political. Much of the artist's most recognizable work incorporates robots in fantastic landscapes, mechanical sea monsters, and nude women riding dinosaur skeletons—an attention to otherworldliness that's evident throughout the book's glossy pages.
But between all the flashy images, Emek... tells the story of Emek himself: growing up in a household of artists; creating his first commissioned poster; forming the Post Neo Explosionists collective. The narrative's arc runs from childhood to child rearing, and there's plenty to look at in between.