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Briscoe Center Digitizes Extraordinary Texas Poster Art Collection - Essay page 3

The work of music poster artists who came after the decade-long domination of the Armadillo World Headquarters has also found a place in the Center's poster collection. The punk era of music poster art was bolstered by the opening of Raul's, located directly across from the University of Texas on Guadalupe Street ("the Drag"). Other clubs, including Duke's Royal Coach Inn and Liberty Lunch, relied on this new group of artists to advertise their musical acts through their posters and handbills. These graphic artists designed posters that were more simply wrought and reflected an angry response to the slick commercialization of rock music.

Michael Nott (NOXX), The Next, Aces 88, ca. 1980. Texas Poster Art Collection, Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin; TPA_0102. © Michael Nott/Briscoe Center for American History.

Michael Nott (NOXX), The Next, Aces 88, ca. 1980. Texas Poster Art Collection, Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin; TPA_0102. ©Michael Nott/Briscoe Center for American History.

Among the artists who produced posters for these clubs were Michael Nott, who signed his work as "NOXX," and Ric Cruz, whose elaborate pen-and-ink renderings echoed the visual style of the Armadillo artists. Cruz's science fiction motifs, however, were a departure from the armadillo and cosmic cowboy perspective of the earlier artists. Nevertheless, like the Armadillo artists, the punk era artists produced designs, often using xerography, that challenged commonly accepted standards. "In one celebrated instance," Wheat said, "Bert Crews of the punk band the Re*cords was sought by the FBI after he used IRS forms for printing handbills."

Today, some of the music poster artists exhibit their works at the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture or participate in the "Flatstock" show Jacobson organized. The show, often part of the annual South by Southwest conference in Austin, attracts both artists and aficionados to purchase famous posters that advertised significant concerts by important musicians. In fact, one of those highly prized posters, a copy of which is in the Center's collection, is Jacobson's

1990 concert poster for Stevie Ray Vaughn's last Auditorium Shores concert before his death in a helicopter crash.

Nels Jacobson (Jagmo), Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, and others, 1990. Texas Poster Art Collection, Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin; TPA_0281. © Nels Jacobson/Briscoe Center for American History.

Nels Jacobson (Jagmo), Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, and others, 1990. Texas Poster Art Collection, Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin; TPA_0281. © Nels Jacobson/Briscoe Center for American History.

"These posters have become documents of Austin's cultural history," Wheat said. "Not only are they attractive, entertaining, and full of information about venues and events, they also reflect the development of both musical and visual arts styles in the city's emergence as a music capital." By digitizing selections and by maintaining the poster collection in its archives, the Briscoe Center is committed to making this unique artwork accessible to a new and wider audience.