John Van Hamersveld 



Click here to enter Van Hamersveld Museum of Art. John Van Hamersveld, Kingsley Loft Studio - 1968. © John Van Hamersveld. 


 The Sixties Trip 
    John Van Hamersveld
Kingsley Loft Studio - 1968
  © John Van Hamersveld
 Photo Sessions 

 Museum of Art  Museum of Art 

 Museum of Art  Museum of Art  Museum of Art  Museum of Art 

 Museum of Art  Museum of Art  Museum of Art  Museum of Art 

When John Van Hamersveld left the art school scene of the late Beat Era in the early 60's artists were becoming media minded like Andy Warhol & The Factory with the Velvet Underground. Andy was seen in Life Magazine as "the" pop artist. Everyone knew the Beatles' sound in the 60's was the "British Invasion". They were transforming the British bubblegum hits into American Culture as fashion. Their uniform hair cut and suits were the new look. "The Endless Summer" album cover image and soundtrack, distributed by Capitol Records, brought a different surf sound to radio. The film had done 30 million dollars in sales then at the box office as an independent film in America. The popular Beach Boys were on the same label and their sound was a part of the transition of the surf sound in the 60's, during music industry standards, all turns into the psychedelic sound and fashion of the high culture of the new media. In the early 60's the Beatles and Beach Boys dominated the radio and concert venues through America, all was distributed by the Capitol Records Company in the mid 60's, but all changed into the San Francisco enviable new sound of bands like The Dead, Big Brother, The Jefferson Airplane and the Blue Cheer. During the change in the culture, John Van Hamersveld designed album covers, posters and promotions in the art scene of the 60's and 70's, for the likes of The Jefferson Airplane and The Rolling Stones, where he gains his reputation from as an American Artist and Designer.
Gut Turk the artist & the "Vincebus Eruptum" album cover:
Click here for details. Hell's Angel 'Gut' Turk, Blue Cheer Manager - 1968. © John Van Hamersveld.

John Van Hamersveld:
This part is about meeting Gut Turk the manager of the Blue Cheer band, 1967. I was one of the founders and a part of forming "Pinnacle Rock Concerts", as one of the three partners. I was an art director at Capitol Records since 1966 and had finished the Beatles "Magical Mystery Tour", the front of the Album Cover, released that summer in 1967. For me, at the time of the first shows, we as a production company had organized a series of Dance Concerts. On the eve of the first concert, I was introduced to Gut during the days of Pinnacle's "Electric Wonders" show at the Shrine Exposition Hall. The Blue Cheer was the hit of the weekend party. Gut, as the manager of the band, came around after the show and asked if I would take a photo of the band for his new album cover for "Vincebus Eruptum". Gut later introduced me to Hell's Angels that would drop by the studio at the time. Gut was the dominate character who represented the image of the Blue Cheer band when we all met in the "Pinnacle" deals. Gut was a great influence as a crazy friend with great stories he told about his life and times in San Francisco, his world he constructed for all of us to understand.

Click here for details. Blue Cheer - Vincebus Eruptum, Album Cover - 1968. © John Van Hamersveld & Gut.

Blue Cheer - Vincebus Eruptum
Album Cover - 1968
© John Van Hamersveld & Gut

About the Blue Cheer band photograph:
John Van Hamersveld:
My studio was upstairs in a victorian two storey house, at Coronado and Wilshire, near Otis Art School in Downtown Los Angeles. This is where I had two apartments adjoining one another on the second floor, where it was set-up for making photographs, an art studio for my drawings and posters that became the famous "Hendrix Head".
Click here to enter Van Hamersveld Print Lab, Los Angeles. Pinnacle Concerts Presents At Shrine Hall Auditorium, L. A., Calif., 10. 2. 1968, Blue Cheer, The Electric Flag, The Soft Machine, Jimi Hendrix.
The "Pinnacle Rock Concerts" started in the studio bedroom. One morning with girlfriend Honeya, I woke up and named my idea, "Pinnacle" from my dream. At the time I knew Gut as the manager of the Blue Cheer. Later on a trip to San Francisco to visit Gut he introduced me to his album cover, printed and finished in the psychedelic style of letterforms and pattern. It was impressive to see my photographs of the band imbedded in the surface of the 12 x 12 square. Now it is one of the most famous albums in the world. In middle of 1968 I designed the Jefferson Airplane Album Cover, "Crown of Creation", their biggest album. They seem to have become the Rolling Stones of America at the time. I later did design the Rolling Stones "Exile on Main Street" album cover in 1972. All was a small world living in Southern California. Later in the 1970's I was always surprised, as unexpected Hell's Angels were standing at the doorway of the studio, with that leather jacket and the skull image on the back, they wanted to trade pot for money for their gas tank. Gut had put me on the list.
From an article for background:
Designing Images During the Counter Culture of the 60's:
Los Angeles, also, boasted a number of influential music venues, mostly in the vicinity of the Sunset Strip. The most popular was the Whisky-a-Go-Go, which soon became not only an important venue for the San Francisco bands, but also a springboard for many of L.A.'s own acts like The Doors, Love and The Byrds.
Click here to enter Van Hamersveld Print Lab, Los Angeles. Pinnacle Concerts Presents At Shrine Hall Auditorium, L. A., Calif., 26. / 27. 7. 1968, Blue Cheer, Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck.
Other significant venues were The Troubadour, the Shrine Auditorium, The Kaleidoscope, the Ash Grove, Ciro's (where The Byrds were frequent performers), Pandora's Box and the Sea Witch. Strangely, Los Angeles was never a great centre for rock posters. The Pinnacle concert production company was the first significant concert and production company to put on rock concerts and dances in Los Angeles, mostly at the Shrine Auditorium. The posters designed by local artist John Van Hamersveld for these events are now legendary works.
A serigraph is a color print made by the silk-screen process and printed by the artist. The silk-screen process is a stencil method of printing a flat, color design through a piece of silk or other fine cloth on which all parts of the design not to be printed have been stopped out by an impermeable film. Silk-screening also makes use of a squeegee to force ink directly on to the surface to be printed. Visions of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein with their huge silk-screened canvasses flash through the mind when the term serigraph is mentioned, since it is this technique that many high priced, upscale art galleries have succeeded in selling their works. It is this same technique that began flourishing through the "Rock" poster underground in the early '90s.
Silk-screen printing is most widely known for its use of printing on fabrics and is how the method originated. The first silk-screens were made of fine silk threads and strands of human hair by the Japanese as a way to apply stenciled shapes to fabric.
Click here to enter Van Hamersveld Print Lab, Los Angeles. Pinnacle Concerts Presents At Shrine Hall Auditorium, L. A., Calif., 10. / 11. 11. 1968, Blue Cheer, Buffalo Springfield, The Grateful Dead.
It was not until the 1920s that the first automatic screen printing machine was invented. This process was capable of meeting small runs on short notice, while being inexpensive, yet the applications were mostly for commercial reasons. With time, the silk-screen advantage was the relative ease of multi-color printing for bold designs since the inks tend to be opaque and ride on the surface of the paper. Virtually any paper can be used for printing, making silk-screen more accessible than any other print medium.
Pop art and op art revitalized the screen printing process in the early 1960s as an art form rather than just a commercial printing technique. Perhaps, this could have lent itself to the next wave of producing "Rock" show (or "Gig") posters in the mid to late 1960s during the "Psychedelic Era". Previously, most "Rock" posters were a clutter of type with perhaps a photograph of the performer that were either taped to store windows or stapled to telephone poles to advertise the "Gig". The poster soon incorporated illustrations into the design and, as this "Psychedelic Era" began, unusual lettering or logos morphed into illustrations, which blended into a display of mind bending colors. These posters produced either by serigraphy (screen), lithography (flat), or offset (cylinder) saw pop art tones with day-glow expressionism reflect the cultural clash of society, the Vietnam War and mind expanding drugs becoming a new direction in American art. This new breed of artists, including Rick Griffin, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelly, Victor Moscoso, Wes Wilson, John Van Hamersveld, Gary Grimsham, Randy Tuten, and others would influence generations to come while helping design the face of "Rock".
Click here to enter Van Hamersveld Museum of Art. Rick Griffin & John Van Hamersveld, Photo Victor Moscoso - 1968. © John Van Hamersveld.Rick Griffin & John Van Hamersveld
Photo Victor Moscoso - 1968
© John Van Hamersveld
The alternative scene at the street level. From the Melrose District like a fist thrust into a mirror, the face changed with the birth of punk and hardcore (late 1970s to early 1980s), as this new generation rebelled against what was once rebellion. And from that era, one image still stages strong, the Screamers poster by Gary Panter since it pictured the rage evident in this new sound of social consciousness. Yet the silk-screened poster did not seem to exist as it once had. The limited, signed serigraphs still sold out of upscale galleries, but the punk mentality grew into a do it yourself ethic, and the xerox machine or offset printer became the way to create. Artists like Raymond Pettibon, Shawn Kerri, "Mad" Marc Rude, and Pushead reflected the mood. Their work adorned the inner walls of houses across America and appeared on T-shirts silk-screened in garages on home made units. Glenn Danzig, singer of the Misfits, silk-screened T-shirts in the basement of his parent's home while occasionally printing huge one color "gig" posters silk-screened on butcher paper. T-shirts and "flyers" (small handbills) were in full D.I.Y. swing, but silk-screened "Rock" posters would have to evolve again.
But the popular new "Limited" idea started at a store front in Santa Monica, at the Jeff Wasserman Silkscreen Shop, who had worked as a GEMINI printer in 1979. It was the edge of the 1980's. This was now signed serigraphs sales, sold out of upscale galleries, like publisher Mirage Editions, where Van Hamersveld had designed for the Smithsonian and the Cooper Hewitt of the Oceanliner Print, The Cooper Hewitt, the book store. But it was the new L.A. scene called "WET" created by Leonard Corren, the "WET Leg" Poster Limited Edition was distributed like the "Endless Summer" poster as a silkscreen, not for three bucks in the mid 60's, this was the high-end limited edition for 40 dollars, for poster and frame galleries.
Click here to enter Van Hamersveld Museum of Art. John Van Hamersveld - 1968. © John Van Hamersveld.

John Van Hamersveld:
The limited editions turned one of his images into an Olympic Mural in 1984, the wrapped half around way Coliseum. This was a 360 foot 12 foot high figure on 60 foot lone canvas's painted in Olympic Colors.
With so much ink being squeegeed through frames of synthetic screens, a cultural icon is once again laying out the foundation for history in the "Rock" world.
Refer to:
The Art of Rock Book, Abeville Publisher . . . John Van Hamersveld

 The Art Architecture of John Van Hamersveld 

 The Endless Summer 

(one of the silk-screen posters of 1964 that started all the poster sales interest then)

 Rock Art III - Down And Dirty 

The great connection to

 The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band 

By 1968 the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band were poised to release their fourth album - but their last for Reprise. Thus far, in terms of record sales at least, they had conspicuously failed to set the world alight - or even the small corner they call Los Angeles. Yet in many ways 'Volume III - A Child's Guide To Good And Evil' (RS 6298) was the group's most extraordinary achievement.
A newspaper piece of the time - the only contemporary record of Markley's words beyond his lyrics and sleeve pronouncements - provides us with a tantalizing insight into the creative processes at work within the group. After describing a rare live appearance by the band at a Teenage Fair in Portland, Oregon - at which six girls apparently fainted - Bob was quoted as saying this about 'A Child's Guide':
Click here for details. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - A Child's Guide To Good And Evil - 1968. © John Van Hamersveld.
"The lyrical content is so meaningful and gets in so deep that we are treading the fine line of perfect taste. Donovan did it on his 'Sunshine Superman' album, Dylan did it on 'John Wesley Harding' and I hope that we did it here. What I try and do is take as much material about a subject as I can, condense it to an exact point and hope to capture all the meaning that maybe forty pages of material would have."
The article pointed to the album's closing track, 'Anniversary Of World War III', as the perfect example of Bob's economy with words - three minutes of total silence. Whether one views the comparisons with Dylan and Donovan as justified - or merely as evidence of Markley's delusions of grandeur - the album was certainly the band's most complex offering to date. As its title suggested, the work was a fusion of innocence and malice, the subject matter perfectly reflected in John Van Hamersveld's striking cover art work.
Click here for details. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - A Child's Guide To Good And Evil - 1968. © John Van Hamersveld.
If the 'butterfly mind' represented both the transience of innocence and the psychedelic possibilities of a mind in free flight, its stark black and white setting rendered the image distinctly sinister. Hamersveld, who began working as an Art Director for Capitol Records in 1966, produced some of the most enduring images of the age, including the poster for cult surf movie 'Endless Summer' and album covers like Jefferson Airplane's 'Crown Of Creation' and the Stones' 'Exile On Main Street'. In 1967 he formed the Pinnacle partnership and promoted gigs at the Shrine Auditorium by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Cream and the Velvet Underground.
John recalls his work on 'A Child's Guide': "Bob Markley wanted a photograph of the band on the back so I took them up onto a hillside near Burbank and photographed them in colour with a Hasselblad camera and a wide angle lens. For the front cover I used the face from a photograph of Stevie, an artist friend who would pose nude for me. I combined my drawings and letterforms in black and white to create a stark contrast in the record racks. Black and white was also an issue in terms of dark and light karma. The butterfly's wings are a psychological symbol for reading in to the mind, like an ink blot test by a psychologist, but as art. In this image, the head is thinking of the butterfly image - freedom from the karma in the well of darkness." It was surely one of the most powerful and iconic cover illustrations of its era.

Click here to enter Van Hamersveld Museum of Art.
Mail to Van Hamersveld Museum of
 Drawing With Phil Becker
Surf Vehicles - 1952
© John Van Hamersveld

Click here to enter Van Hamersveld Museum of Art. Drawing With Phil Becker, Surf Vehicles - 1952. © John Van Hamersveld.

 Blue Cheer 
 Design by Frank Oberländer for River Of Many Streams in association with John Van Hamersveld.
 © Frank Oberländer & John Van Hamersveld. All Rights Reserved.