by Art Chantry ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
this is a poster by david lance goines. back in the 1970′s, when his poster fame was reaching it’s peak, this guy was as famous and ubiquitous as peter max was in the 1960′s or shepard fairey is today. you looked around you, in any direction and there his stuff would be – dorm walls, fine galleries, cheap repros in kmart (he did a distribution deal of cheap 4-color reproductions). i mean this guy’s posters were EVERYWHERE. it was discovering his work in about 1973 (at the same time i discovered the words “graphic design”) that made me decide the do posters as my life’s passion. in fact, like most poster artists over the next 15 years, i tried to imitate his work. i couldn’t, of course, and i ended up in an entirely different place. but, this was the guy i started out trying to copycat professionally.
this is the only poster david lance goines designed specifically for the seattle market. the gallery was actually a san francisco gallery that opened up a seattle branch and commissioned this poster to celebrate it (the gallery closed down about a year and a half later). i owned one of these things and it was absolutely beautiful – the craftsmanship and print quality was breathtaking. it hung on my wall for a decade or longer. all lost, now. have no idea what happened to it.
goines always worked local. he lived almost his entire life in berkeley, california. this ‘seattle’ poster wasn’t even TRULY a seattle poster, but a local small gallery he did work for. if you look at a book of his poster work, you quickly see that these incredible images of his – the illustration, the typography, all that incredible amazing production art he does – advertises little local business. chez panisse is a small restaurant literally next to door his storefront studio. velo-sport bicycles (cyclists racing the locomotive in the famous goines posters) was down the block. the film posters are for ‘pacific film archive’ showings. the raven wood winery is local. the names on his posters are like the “berkeley symphony orchestra’ and “berkeley public library”. when he did a few “national” posters (very few i can spot) they were for high minded things like the telluride film festival back in the early days. basically, you will NOT find any big shot corporate clients in goines’ portfolio, only small community businesses. and there is a a really IMPORTANT reason for this.
back in the 1960′s, at the very beginning of the radical student protest movement in america (after civil rights but before the anti-war efforts) there was a series of events that happened at the university of berkeley campus that we historically refer to as “the free speech movement”. it started out simply with some lefties setting up a table to distribute pinko brochures near a popular widely used entrance gate to the university campus. the administration shut them down. they came back. eventually, the school expelled a group of seven students as undesirables and everything erupted in howls of protest. thus was born a huge student/faculty/community debate about the power of the people versus the power of the establishment that we call the “radical sixties” that is great grandaddy of even the ‘occupy movement’ today. eventually this small series of events that erupted on berkeley campus resulted in riots and the takeover of the entire university administration by a motley group of pissed off wild-eyed student radicals (‘sort of’ lead by the legendary and eloquent mario savio). it’s credited with being the event that launched the entire protest movement of the 60′s/70′s and beyond.
one of those original seven students that were expelled from the school was one guy named david lance goines. yup, the poster dude. his primary role in this movement (and pivotal) was that he ran the print shop that actually printed all the flyers they handed out. as time went on and the movement became so massively important in it’s impact, those same people recognized what was actually happening and created a small industry, a network of printers and radical union craftsmen in the workplace that helped with all aspects of actually making those pieces of propaganda and manifestos and posters and placards. and that was also organized by goines and his connections. this is the guy who was the ART DIRECTOR/DESIGNER of the radical 60′s movement. in some ways, maybe even the architect.
he actually printed everything he could on his own press. he still owns that print shop and that very same press. in fact, he printed all these amazing posters on that SAME printing press. amazing but true. i’ve seen it – it’s small. his stat camera that he uses to actually build his contact films is so small that he has to shoot the original artwork in sections and tile it together in the darkroom – all by hand. he draws it, produces the film, burns the plates and runs the press himself. so, when this guy takes on a client, it’s a real relationship to the project and the client. it’s HEARTFELT. he doesn’t mess around. when he works on something, it’s because it benefits the larger cultural community. he even wrote a book about his experiences called “”the free speech movement, coming of age in the 1960′s” (1993, ten speed press – another small local client he’s done promotional posters for).
about 20 years back, my old partner, jamie sheehan, and i were digging through a now-defunct thrift store in rat city (aka “white center”) and we found a goines poster in the rolled-up poster bin. i took a close look and realized it was an original, not one of those k-mart repros that were so common. i mean, goines printed this thing himself with his own two hands! it wasn’t signed or numbered (the initial limited run), but it was still a real one (the latter part of the same run that he didn’t feel was quite good enough to number and sign). we took it up to the cashier and bought it – for 18¢!!! we danced our way out to the car.
so, jamie took it upon herself to find goines and find him and see if he would sign the poster for her. turns out he was easy to find – having been in the same location his entire professional life. jamie is an agreeable conversationalist and they became phone friends for a spell. so, the next time we were in the san francisco area, we went across the bridge to oakland/berkeley and dropped into his studio. it was in an old storefront in an incredibly yuppified, gentrified section of berkeley. chez panisse was next door. all the other businesse i recognized form his posters as well. in fact, most of the logos and signage in the neighborhood seemed to have been done by goines. he even did some magnificent stained glass windows in a nearby church. it was like walking into a galaxy inhabited by goines’ imagination and aesthetic – “i’m going to goinesland”. in fact, it was quite beautiful. but, it sure was a pit when goines first moved there. some claim it was his beautiful design work that changed the neighborhood into the beautiful high-rent district it is today.
we knocked on his locked outer door and he answered it – actually meeting the guy face to face. i dunno what i expected, but he turned out to be rather eccentric and severe looking . he had a bald-shaved head, dark ‘architect’ glass frames, a black ‘tonic suit (with a crisp white shirt and thin black tie) – and he spo
a beautiful waxed handlebar moustache!! dang, he was intimidating. his talking style was also friendly but guarded. he was a total intellectual, too and constantly informed you and taught you as he spoke. he would ask questions as well as answer ours – but his answers always ended in (tough) questions. the guy was a formidable and experienced opponent.
we got the two-bit tour and he introduced us to that legendary old press of his. we eventually talked about his radical days (which i didn’t really know about until we started chatting). it blew me away to find out he was one of the original 7 students of the free speech movement. so, he pulled out a copy of his book, signed it and gave it to me (a beautiful calligraphic box of a signature – like on his posters. but, it’s done with a crowquill pen point and is the size of pinhead. such was his standard autograph.) the guy was casual but tightly wound. i peppered him with idiotic questions like, “what was mario savio like?” pretty stupid, but he answered politely. he should have told me to shut up and kicked my ass out.
as we talked, i noticed a civil war uniform (union army) on a standing figure (a manikin? i can’t remember) in his back room. i commented on it and he told me he was also a civil war re-enactor. he began talking about and it turns out his OTHER great passion in life is weaponry – he’s a gun nut!! we talked guns for a time and found out he also taught self-protection and gun safety and proper usage. his knowledge of weaponry was historic and encyclopedic. like most printers, he was a total gearhead. he loved intricate machinery. in his case, instead of cars or motorcycles, it was guns. in fact, he gave me a copy of “the amercian rifleman” (the trade magazine of the gun nuts out there.) i still have it. it has a mailing label stuck on the cover down in the corner that sez “david lance goines” on it. what a hoot.
AC: …all of us old punks often will sniff at his work and dis him as if he were some sort old school twit. we’re so stupid. the guy is a monster. he could eat us for breakfast and still have room for a nice lunch….
i made a final crack about how weird it was that an old hippie radical peace-nik would be into guns and then asked him if he still considered himself a radical or even an anarchist. he paused for a moment and said something like, “well, i’m actually several steps beyond that. you have no idea…”