The Story Behind Some Of The ’90s Coolest Band Posters

Keeping the art alive

Photo courtesy of Frank Kozik

Frank Kozik has two rules for making band posters: no puns and no photos of the band, "unless they absolutely insist." In case you're not familiar, Kozik is the genius behind some of the most memorable band posters of the '90s. His time in Austin, Texas, led to gigs with Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, and more. Kozik's collage aesthetic combined with hand-drawn cartoons worked to extend the identity of the bands he worked with into spaces you wouldn't necessarily expect. (That's thanks in part to his rules.)

Now, Kozik's expanded his oeuvre beyond poster making and into the limited-edition art toy world, where he acts as chief creative officer for Kidrobot, an appropriate medium considering Kidrobot's cult status among artists, art lovers, and collectors, plus folks bent on simply owning the best of the best. Like Kozik's posters, the work he's done with Kidrobot occupies a special place within collectors' minds.

The dawn of computer-generated posters hasn't killed off the medium just yet, though. Kozik still lends his vision to bands like blink-182 and events like Lollapalooza. "This enormous renaissance in the art of the poster kicked off around '91, '92, and continues to this day," he tells us. "It's a huge, huge specialized scene." Like all things '90s, though, the era of poster making will never be quite the same. Let's look back at some of Kozik's most famous works to see just how far we've come.

Photo courtesy of Frank Kozik

Sonic Youth (1987)
"This was, I believe, their first national tour. They played to about—oh god, there was less than 30 people at the show. The image is from a Russ Meyer film. I had a book of stuff from the film and I had listened to their music, and I was like, ‘Okay, this is psychedelic music, I think, right? Kind of.’ At that point, nobody in the punk scene was doing anything that had a psychedelic influence to it. When people saw this, they thought it was really interesting because it's got a gritty Xeroxed punk vibe, but then there’s weird psychedelic sex symbol on it. This is the poster that actually got me a whole string of gigs because they really liked it. This basically is a collage; I drew it, drew on it, did a simple separation, then took it to the printers, all by my hand. I was mixing different influences because I was a big fan of that, even though I was super into punk rock. I would try to make some sort of a connection with the band that wasn’t like an obvious pun on the name or a picture of a band."