fakin’ it

by Art Chantry:

here is another great example of that “fake psychedelic” bubble style illustration that we all love so much (sorry i can’t fit the whole unfolded LP cover on my scanner.). the situation here is not that it’s somebody trying to FAKE being psychedelic at all. but the problem is that this is actually a cover by the great stanislaw zagorski (whose other hyper famous record covers include the velvet undergound’s “loaded”, creams “wheels of fire”, and the rascals “time/peace”.) zagorski is one of the legendary and magnificent illustrator/designers from warsaw, poland, and is one of the most famous practitioners of what we often refer to as “those polish posters” school of design. think of those “cyrk” posters you could buy in the poster stores back in the late 60’s – that’s what i mean. this style originates in eastern european poster art and simply cruised west as hipster designers liked it and copycatted it it.

—even the subject matter of this record – the musical “hair” – is fake psych in nature. it was a business project to make money by imitating what people from the mainstream thought was “hippie” culture. totally fraudulent stuff that we now look back at as authentic. it’s not. nothing about this project is ‘authentic’ at all. i figger we should historically make note of that.—AC

it’s presence in amercia is channeled almost directly through that amazing post-modernist design collective called “PUSH PIN”. all of those designers (milton glaser, seymour chwast, john alcorn, etc. etc. etc.) were all HUGE fans of the eastern europe school of thought in poster image. guys like heinz edelmann (whose work on yellow submarine cemented this style as “psychedelic’ in the minds of most of us) were of the same stylistic school of thought (he was german, i believe). it’s worth your time to go research these eastern european poster artists from the 50’s and 60’s. it’ll blow your mind open so wide that you’ll never make a poster the same way again. fair warning.

the transition from eastern european design through western europe and directly into the psuedo-european east coast (nyc) design scene automatically made this the style turned to when the NYC power base of the advertising/publishing industry wanted to emulate something they didn’t understand that was coming from the distant west coast hippie underground world of the united states. both styles are colorful and linear. that was enough to pretend they were the same (“close enough for jazz”.) the result is a HUGE stylistic difference between the two seaboard camps. but, since the eastern seaboard controlled the media, their adoption of eastern european styles as “psychedelic” became the promoted style and VIOLA! this is now seen by us as ‘psych’. but it ain’t.

the real psych style was a folk art-ish handdrawn scritchy-scratchy stoner style that was as convoluted and inward as this eastern ‘fake psych’ style was simplistic and explosive. in truth, this ‘fake psych’ style was the spiritual inverse of the authentic psychedelic artwork produced by the actual hippie underground scene.

again, the history of this stuff is being written by academics from that east coast design scene. predictably, it reinforces the notion that this balloony style (ala peter max, etc.) that we generally have been brainwashed to call “psychedelic” really was what ‘psychedlic’ art looked like. but it isn’t that at all. i think the term “fake psych” or “corporate psychedelic” is much more fitting (i most prefer the term “hallmark psychedelic” because so much of this style was used on cheap greeting cards). stanley mouse and rick griffin and wes wilson, et. al. would never have done adverts for dodge or hallmark or seven up, etc. but, in those rare cases where they actually did do “corporate work for the man”, they actually seemed to TRY to make it look like what they expected (just like any freelancer does). so, they would emulate the ‘east coast style’ to get that paycheck (give the customer what they want), thus further reinforcing the falsehood that this was a true “hippie psychedelic’ style.

nothing personal, it’s just business.

AC:when our mainstream culture thinks of the 70’s, it’s all disco balls, mullets and muscle cars. that’s sure not the 70’s i remember, either….joy division were punk’s last gasp. they ushered post punk to the mainstream. in reality, i think public image, limited, were the first REAL post-punk band – by INTENTION….

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