Rave art, such as flyers, posters and invitations, plays an integral part in music culture. While it often goes overlooked, it offers some of the most captivating visual music collateral.
Rap artists used Daliesque surrealism and psychedelic kitsch to craft artwork that would become iconic for its cultural impact. Whether it was Junior Tillmans’ cyborg fantasy themes or Alex Sullivan’s vibrant record sleeves, rave art speaks of utopian dreams and collective escapism.
Flyers were an essential aspect of rave culture, serving to spread information about events and offer cheap advertising opportunities. They could be posted in public places, distributed on the street, or sent through mail.
Promoters used posters as an essential form of communication and to record information about their parties and artists. Many featured artwork and illustrations with strong visual aesthetics, from 3D designs to optical illusions.
In the mid-1980s, acid house emerged and created a new aesthetic for flyer and poster design. This style featured saturated colours, disorganized patterns and optical illusions that elevated flyers to another level and elevated them into an essential part of rave art.
These designs were often the work of amateurs with parties to promote, but there were a few dedicated star artists whose work was just as psychedelic as the counter culture art of the 1960s. One notable figure in this realm was Pez – a self-taught graphic artist best known for creating flyers for legendary UK raves like Helter Skelter and Biology.
He claims he was the first artist to create his own distinct style of flyer art. His pieces feature abstract shapes layered over each other, handcrafted typography and some 3D renderings.
He often incorporates textures and smooth elements that resemble abrasive surfaces into his designs, drawing inspiration from both his experiences as a DJ and the music he listens to.
He believes his uncompromising approach to designing has had a major influence on him as both an artist and motivator. Flyers, according to him, should communicate the personality of an event while inspiring others in the scene.
Posters are an integral part of the rave experience, whether you’re hosting or just attending. The best ones feature eye-catching visuals to capture and sustain your attention. The most impressive rave posters are printed on durable metal canvas for long-lasting durability.
As for design itself, London-based alumnus James Lacey has produced some stunning and imaginative creations. His Technicolour graffitti-inspired posters boast an old school aesthetic with an alluring modern edge.
With the rave craze taking hold, designers are taking time to explore this medium. Gavin Connell from Dublin is an avid fan of the music and has built up quite a collection of poster art to prove it; Cecilia Martinez de Puig from Barcelona (CM-dp) uses technology as inspiration when crafting her artworks. The challenge here lies in creating something out-of-this-world and worth looking at multiple times. If you have anything unique or remarkable to share with the world, let us know!
Rave was a cultural phenomenon that profoundly shaped contemporary art, with artists such as Mark Leckey, Dinos Chapman and Jeremy Deller incorporating music into their pieces. Whether this was done intentionally or not, the aesthetic of rave has left its mark on many young people’s aesthetics.
It’s easy to see how a party’s aesthetic and iconography are expressed through the visuals used to promote them – from flyers and posters advertising them, to invitation cards and membership cards essential for ravers’ clubbing lives in the 1990s. Chelsea Louise Berlin’s new book Rave Art celebrates this visual culture associated with UK clubbing by drawing upon her vast collection of ephemera.
These seemingly mundane pieces of paper contained all the vital details, from where a party was starting to who would be present to welcome you. Documented through flyers that became an artform, and featuring personal memories and quotes from famous, infamous, and not-so-famous attendees alike, Rave Art paints an engaging portrait of what may be the last major youth culture movement of modern times. Get your copy today – available exclusively from Carlton Books.
In the late 1980s, clubs and bars began popping up everywhere. But it wasn’t until pagers and mobile phones made their way into everyday life that rave culture truly took off – like a mix between dance music and hip hop with an added dash of tweenies. Chelsea Berlin is considered to be the queen of all things rave related with an impressive collection worthy of any art museum – featuring hundreds of baubles of all shapes and sizes that have been carefully evaluated for quality assurance purposes.