In between all of this activity, we were preparing to print our poster edition sets of 300. The heatwave approached and topped the summer’s temperature record – bad news for printers as the ink dries faster in the screen making it an arduous process. Due to the complexity of my design, I was lucky enough to use the semi-automatic “beast”, equipped with micro registration adjustment and heavy pneumatic pumps to pull the squeegee with perfect pressure.
I still sweated more than my own body weight and it took over ten hours to complete the six layer print, equating to 1800 repetitions. This seemed a lot easier compared to the other three members’ task of manual hand-printing their posters. The only way they could make them though, to avoid the hot temperatures, was to print either early in the morning or late in the evening.
When we arrived at Speedway Meadow in the Golden Gate Park (one of the world’s largest manmade parks) The Summer of Love festival was already blasting away. Thousands of people gathered in front of the stage to hear the bands from the original era such as Blue Cheer, Jefferson Starship, Country Joe and the Fish and the Quicksilver Messaging Service. We spent most of the day behind the poster stand, frantically trying to keep up with the rush of costumers wanting to purchase our art (investigative journalist and author Dennis King also paid us a visit!).
At $25 each and $100 for a set of five, we were selling our posters at a reasonable price (considering they were hand-printed and limited). But this is also a distinguishing trait of the gig poster ethos and within a few hours we’d sold out and were rewarded for our labour. It was clear that the American audience was rife with collectors and enthusiasts who were determined to purchase. During the evening we watched an NBC news broadcast that had documented the workshop throughout the week, and this perfectly concluded the experience. Winston Smith, famous for the iconic logo of the Dead Kennedys and a close friend of Chuck, met us for a few drinks whilst we celebrated.
The trip was a truly awesome experience that I’m extremely grateful for. Our passion has been propelled into over-drive and expanded the frontiers of our knowledge beyond comprehension. Now the journey is over the pond has been crossed one way, we’ve already started preparing a trip for Firehouse to return the favour. So stay posted for the subsequent American invasion of Britain.