ART CHANTRY is a freaking legend. Practically the inventor of punk poster art, Chantry moved from his longtime home of Seattle to St. Louis two years ago. Chantry is notorious for rendering all his posters by hand (once, he printed Teengenerate/Pearl Harbor posters on metal that looked like the Japanese flag, and took it out to a field to shoot them with real bullets). The story goes that he's got rooms filled with files of clip art he's collected over the years, and that as a result, the floor in his apartment is about to bust clear through. Art uses no computers. Ever.
What do you do for a living?
I'm a freelance graphic designer. I basically do poster art for a "living" (such as it is). Been doing this for pushing 30 years.
In all your collecting of clips and fonts, what has been your most treasured find?
That's a tough question. In reality, I think my most treasured find was not a "thing," but the more abstract realization that there is another world of creativity and culture that I had never really seen before, even though it was right under my nose.
How much does the music influence the images you use?
My clients are music culture people (when I work on a music poster). Therefore, understanding their music is EXTREMELY important to satisfying their immediate and cultural needs. So I spend a great deal of time trying to ascertain the music's and band's personalities, and then attempt to accurately reflect them visually. It's not an easy thing to do. It really helps to listen to their recordings and, if at all possible, see them perform live.
Do you think design, and poster design, can be categorized as "fine art"?
That's not for people like us to decide. The "fine art" culture has a unique (and constantly shifting) set of rules that defines "fine art." Currently, poster art does not fit their definition. But that set of criteria is moving in the direction of accepting poster art as a "fine art." Maybe in 100 years or so.
Would you consider your posters artifacts?
I make artifacts for a living. The primary difference at the moment between "fine art" and poster art is that posters have function in our popular culture. They are pieces of advertising or product. To treat them as "art objects" is not a correct assumption. It is the same thing as treating a folk-art mailbox as sculpture. It's still a mailbox. Same goes for posters. It's still an advert in a very concrete sense.
This isn't to say that function will always eliminate posters from fine art. The definitions and divisions as they currently exist have only been around for about 150 years. So, the line between artifact and art will move again. But for the moment, posters are cultural artifacts. Given time, they will gain fine art acceptance, like a reliquary. JS