Freak Puke is the debut album from Melvins Lite, a more recent power trio incarnation of the Melvins. It features old stalwarts King Buzzo and Dale Crover joining with legendary bassist Trevor Dunn. They’re as “Lite” as a joke about 9/11; it’s every bit as heavy as any version of the Melvins. They are touring to promote Freak Puke, but this time, the tour is an event of Guinness sized magnitude. 51 shows in 51 days, every state in the union plus Washington D.C. This will be a record. I was pleased as punch to be included in the tour poster series from Secret Serpents. Yesterday, they played the second gig in Seattle, Washington. I commemorated the event with this piece of Sewage-style snarkiness.
I was a bit apprehensive at first, being handed the tour poster duties for Seattle. Being that this was such a geographically consequential tour, I wanted to do something to reflect the area they were playing. I couldn’t abide by putting the Space Needle in the art, but I couldn’t think of anything more unequivocally recognizable about the Emerald City. I set about looking for inspiration.
I like to think of my poster art as “Martial Nouveau,” though that’s kind of a lofty demarkation for my typical chicken scratch. More apropos is, “shit made by a guy who liked G.I. Joe too much as a kid, and is vaguely familiar with the work of Alphonse Mucha.” The main point is, I look at a lot of war propaganda and art nouveau posters. I came across this old gem, and knew I had what one thing summarized Seattle for me better than anything else: coffee.
It being a Melvins poster, I thought this was a perfect jumping off point to inject some sarcasm. I doubted it would be recognizable as a direct parody once I was done. I’m fine with that. I’d rather have the viewer have to dig deep into the cultural psyche than have some instantly recognizable kitsch. I got cracking on pencils.
For the logo and lettering, I ripped off, ahem, used the old French Metro signs for “inspiration.”
I’ve done a lot with masks in my poster work, so I debated for awhile what to cover up this guy’s grin with. The Guy Fawkes mask that has been adopted by the Occupy movement and the hacker collective Anonymous seemed appropriately grinning. I also liked that it reminded me of the anarchism gone wrong (some might say right, I would say right-wing) that leveled the tolerance of liberal protest during Seattle’s famed WTO riots in the nineties. Fuck it, throw on a fascist uniform with the Washington State flag. Let’s see how left meets right so easily when either is brought to extremes.
The main focus, however, is the coffee mug. Seattle was the birthplace to one of the top ten most recognizable corporations of our time, Starbucks. This show was taking place about a block away from the very first one at the Pike Place Market. I had to use that, even thought it was flipping a bit of the bird at the very folks I hoped would buy the poster.
After some research, it turns out the Starbucks logo is a mermaid. What’s with the two tails? Well, it turns out it’s from an medieval etching that explains why the mermaid, as a siren, could be enticing to a sailor. How do you fuck a half-fish? Well, giver her two tails and a pussy in-between. This dirty little mermaid slut is on every cup of mocha frappe grande sugary bullshit you’ve ever had the displeasure to drink.
Time for “inks!”
Is this cheating? I debate myself on that. Instead of going with the traditional brush and ink, I decided to finish this piece on the computer. It was partially a stylistic choice, wondering if I would have more success with my pieces by employing some modern tech. It was also a choice of time, because holy fuck balls, I’d been thinking too much instead of doing.
The text and stylistic decorations were done as vector art in Adobe Illustrator for a more precise look. I then took that it into Photoshop to finish the character drawing which I wanted to have a more natural feel. I always use my Wacom Intuos 4 tablet for drawing on the computer.
When I was done with the “inking,” I colored in my piece in the layers palette. I decided to add some “distress” marks to the poster. I used a texture image I nabbed from the Interwebs, bumped the contrast up, and used it as an eraser template on the art. More style, or more cheating so you can’t see when I actually fuck up the printing? You be the judge.
Once I have the piece done, I take all the colors and make a new spot color channel for each. This will become the black, light proof print that will be outputted on the films we use to burn screens.
Late at night after doing my day job at Monolith Press, I get cracking on my own work. We do some real quality art prints at Monolith, so it was almost a bummer to look at my amateurish hack work. Ah well, I’d signed on already and needed to get this poster done for the Melvins. Mix some paint and drink some liquid courage. Then print.
The new-ish Saturn we recently acquired at our shop works like a dream. It’s a smooth auto press with cracker jack targeting and registration.
The poster was complete and shipped off with time to spare to meet up with the Melvins in Seattle. It’s simpler than some of the posters I’ve done in the past, but I think it befits the artwork. I’m happy to have been a part of the series and, yup, I took some joy in making a dig at the expense of our left coast neighbors to the north.
Fuck Starbucks. All corporate bullshit aside, they just make a crap cup of joe.
Now that the show has passed, I my copies of these posters up for sale in the Sewage Shop. Go check it out, along with the other posters I’ve done. Pick up a couple if yer so inclined. And you should be inclined. Rationing sucks, indulge in my fartwork!