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Over 30 Years of Dope Concert Posters by Mike King

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My appreciation for concert posters started sometime around 1996. I was 14 years old and had just discovered the heady combination of smoking weed, listening to punk rock, and staring at posters that I had bought at my local music shop. I vividly remember their Technicolor chaos, communicating to me a world of music lay beyond the watery confines of the island I lived on. They, and probably the weed, allowed me to visualize a time in the near future when I could finally be there to see those shows myself.

I cannot tell you when I first was introduced to Mike King’s poster art, but I can assure you it was probably around the time I was conjuring up my concert-infused adulthood. King is a prolific poster artist, making, to date, over 5,000 posters and album covers for legendary bands spanning the gamut of Black Flag to Tito Puente to Devo. He recently released Maximum Plunder: The Poster Art of Mike King. This book is the end product of a five-year project to collect and catalog King’s work and features approximately 1,000 pieces he has created

King’s place as an iconic image generator was not deliberate, instead like many things punk, it was a head first tumble into an accidental career. Or as King put it, “The thing about it is it didn’t seem like what I was going to do with my life until I had been doing it for 10 or 15 years. I never planned on being a graphic designer until it occurred to me I was one day. Especially coming from a punk rock background, to me it was just a bunch of papers, so what does that matter.” 

It is these precise coordinates deep in punk rock and its foundation in DIY ethics; it is not surprising that King’s posters for shows have become their own time capsule art form. Or, as King aptly described, “there is a lot of art that is really well thought out, then there is some art that is just a culmination of action. It’s more of the former than the latter. It’s not fine art. Sometime I wonder if it’s art. Some of what’s in this book is not art at all, some of it is not very artful. It’s just what had to be at the moment.” ”

It is these very fleeting moments that need to exist that are enshrined in King’s visual trip down music memory lane. Pick up a copy of “Maximum Plunder” and fall head first into music history through the eyes of one of its more prolific chroniclers.

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Kit Friday -Mild in the Streets

I am a writer, DJ, musician, vandal and I travel a lot.