27 February 2014

Lunatic Fish: Six Martini Lunch Posters

approx. 9' x 8', tempera paint on newsprint, 1989
(that's me on the chair)

Somewhere in the winter of 1988/89, while I was beginning my first experiments with watercolour painting, a bunch of my high school cohorts formed a band called Lunatic Fish. Though not a musician myself, I was incredibly interested in music, so I attended a lot of their rehearsals, mostly to hang out, but also because I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes aspect of making music and I never really got bored of the necessarily repetitive nature of rehearsals.

I guess it was inevitable that I would show my support more concretely by creating posters for their various shows. By the fall of 1989, they'd arranged a double concert in the auditorium, one for each lunch period, and we wanted to make sure the rest of the school knew about it, so we went BIG. Inspired by a very lovely piece by Dennis Mukai (below), lead singer Alex and I started assembling the newsprint papers necessary to make a huge poster for the cafeteria right there on the floor below where we eventually taped them up. Alex worked on the lettering on the right while I pencilled in the figure (not very accurately, but not too badly, considering I scaled it up freehand with no grids or projections). Then we both painted the main poster (I'm sure we ended up staying a bit after school, but who knows how many classes were skipped to do this).

The concerts were "FREE" and Alex added "PUMPF" to fill in the empty space, but we all read it as "FREE PUMPF" (whatever that might have been).

"Blue Violet" by Dennis Mukai

Being the teenager I was, it never really occurred to me to make any kind of attribution to Mr. Mukai on the large poster itself, but, at least, I never tried to give anyone the impression that it was an original work of mine (and, to anyone watching the poster's creation, it was obvious I was copying "Blue Violet" because I had an image of it with me in the caf (cut from a Playboy Magazine, for which Mukai had done numerous illustrations around that time). His work is somewhat reminiscent of Patrick Nagel's, who also did a lot of illustration work for Playboy in the late 70s and early 80s (but his most famous piece was probably his distinctive cover illustration for Duran Duran's Rio album).

In February 1990, when Lunatic Fish played their "Save the Rouge" show in the caf, we made an even bigger poster (hung on a different wall of the caf) –but this time it was an original creation of mine, although it was based on a photo from a magazine and I did try to emulate Mukai's style (with moderate success). I keep looking for a photo of it, but all I end up with is the sketch I based the final poster on. For the letter-sized poster, I do admit, however, to stealing one of the rabbits from Hugh Syme's cover of Rush's Presto album (the rest I made up):

Back to Six Martini Lunch: Along with the gigantic caf poster, I made some easy-to-photocopy 8 1/2" x 11" posters as well. In May of '89, the band had a lunchtime auditorium concert (I don't remember if it was two per lunch period, or one show over two periods, or just one show during one period) called "Big Lunch," so "Six Martini Lunch" was a follow-up of sorts. Please note that all Lunatic Fish shows were (or, at least, billed as being) OZONE FRIENDLY.

To this day, freehand typography isn't my strong suit.

The seemingly random quote "Attila displays his outplacement technique" on the poster above is made only slightly less so if you knew that the band's bass player's name was Attila. I enjoyed finding interesting and semi-relevant phrases in magazines to cut up and paste onto the posters; the quote below next to the pitcher is from the movie "Splash" (I think).

The photo of the fish in the pitcher (as well as the blurb about the scientific study) both came from either the April or September 1989 edition of Omni Magazine.

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