The art (posters) of rock and roll

Squad 19 master the craft of the concert poster.

Big Brother is quite unsubtle these days. PHOTO COURTESY SQUAD 19.

Ashley Goetz

Big Brother is quite unsubtle these days. PHOTO COURTESY SQUAD 19.

Chances are good that youâÄôve seen Squad 19âÄôs work, even if you didnâÄôt know it. The tight-knit group of poster artists is responsible for a plethora of flyers and rock posters that have plastered Twin CitiesâÄô walls over the last decade. Founder/University School of Art graduate Steve Tenebrini and his core of dedicated artists bring together influences ranging from traditional comic book and skate art to the more eccentric, inspired work of visionaries like Robert Crumb and Frank Kozik. Squad 19 posters are relative oddities, channeling the stranger depths of rock and roll mixed with the seemingly boundless potential of street art. In the world of Squad 19, A Black Angels poster becomes a smoky moth-like inkblot nightmare. A poster for an Animal Collective show teems with psychedelic drip, flooded with waves of washed-out color and distorted print. For Squad 19, rock posters are their passion, and they take them very seriously. Speaking with Steve Tenebrini, A&E got to take a glimpse into the world of screenprinting and Squad 19. When youâÄôre making a poster, are you influenced by things you see in the urban landscape? Kind of, on a case-by-case scenario. A lot of times, I try specifically to take the band that theyâÄôre for into consideration first, just kind of play off of that, then pretty much anything goes. WeâÄôre working on a poster for Brian Jonestown Massacre, and itâÄôs got a picture of Lauren Green on it, which you might not necessarily associate with the band. WeâÄôve worked it in such a way, though, that now the end result looks appropriate for their kind of music. Do you get any input from the band itself? Or do you have complete creative control or liberty over what happens? Pretty rarely does the band have anything to say. If a band hires me outright, then of course I want their opinion before I get started, but itâÄôs usually, âÄúShow me some things that IâÄôve already done that you like,âÄù and then IâÄôll kind of work in that style. By this time, people know what Squad 19 is and they can look at the work and see what I have done. Do you listen to the bands you are making posters for? Yeah. ThereâÄôs bands like Cheap Trick IâÄôve loved forever, so then I got to do a poster for them and I was really [expletive] stoked for that âÄî same with Queens of the Stone Age . There has been a lot of bands that IâÄôve discovered just through making gig posters and seeing a really cool poster that somebody else made, and IâÄôll be like, âÄúOh, whoâÄôs that band?âÄù and then IâÄôll go check that band out. I just did a poster for Nickelback kind of as an inside joke. I donâÄôt really like Nickelback, but somebody asked me, âÄúWhat if you ever had to do a poster for Nickelback?âÄù and I was like, âÄúI donâÄôt know,âÄù and then I had the opportunity, so I made one and it turned out good, and the band liked it âĦ so mission accomplished. [Laughter] Do you always use the same process when youâÄôre going to make a print? Over the span of time, it has kind of changed. When we were first starting out, I was laying a lot of things outright on the copy machine and doing a lot of cutting, pasting and reassembling. That was when I was freelancing, and I could just go spend four hours at KinkoâÄôs or whatever. Now itâÄôs a lot more thought-out before I actually do anything.