Typography Inspiration: Jimi Hendrix and Psychedelic Lettering


Billboard magazine rated artist, Rick Griffin’s, 1968 Fillmore poster the number one “Best Rock Poster of All Time.” It’s easy to see why. In the era before Search Engine Marketing, artists like Griffin gained employment by capturing the attention of promoters. The following year, Griffin created the Grateful Dead’s Aoxomoxoa cover using his skillful hand lettering design.

Concert promoter Bill Graham tapped Fantasy Unlimited in 1967 to produce posters for several of his shows. The Jimi Hendrix Experience at Fillmore East in New York uses typography and graphic textured design to simulate the motion of the era. The simple type appears to fade into the poster while the patterns surrounding Hendrix billgrahamhendrixburst forward.

The Seed
In the beginning (1965), rock posters and hand bills were America’s contribution to the rock-and-roll movement and an answer to the British Invasion. Sure they had The Beatles, but we had cool designs. Do you think the Grateful Dead or Jimi Hendrix would remain as iconic today without great graphics or incredibly amazing type?

According to legend, (actually not a legend, but this story needs one), the first rock poster with hand lettering was created by Michael Ferguson and George Hunter of the Charlatans. Hunter drew the logo. The rest was created by Ferguson. Today, we would probably call it a jam session, not a concert. The hand bills were actually promoting the opening of the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada, the Charlatans were just entertainment, not a headliner. That hand lettered flyer became known as “The Seed,” because it is believed to have started the movement that inserted hand lettering and typography into rock-and-roll.

all_about_type_coverAre you Team Serif or Team Sans Serif? Maybe your choice depends on the project, but some designers are committed to one or the other. Very committed. Tweet me @Howbrand with Serif or Sans Serif and let me know if you absolutely are true to one.

If I’ve whet your appetite for more typography inspiration, and you’re looking for some typography inspiration, our editors have put together the best in typography with HOW’s All About Type Bundle, Yes – ALL ABOUT TYPE! This bundle offers 12 different articles about type and hand lettering. You will even be treated to new type alternatives. Here’s what’s included in this incredible bundle for just $9.99.

Sansational, Fads and Fashions and Who Shot the Serif, all by type expert Allan Haley, brings you six sans and seven new serif fonts as well as insight into fads versus classic fonts.

Beyond Helvetica and A Cure for the Common Font gives you advice from type guru Stephen Coles and even offers nine alternative typefaces for “overused and underwhelming” fonts.

Ready to take get a Typography Crash Course from Denise Bosler,author of Mastering Type, complete with six lesson tips to upgrade your knowledge and expertise?

Dr. Shelley Gruendler can take a typography novice to a pro in this incredible on demand conference. And, if you’ve ever been in typographic hell, Thou Shalt Not by Jim Godfrey can free you from 34 typographic sins.

Web Type Revolution, A Stitch in Type, Twin Sisters from Down Under and Found in Translation provide even more information on type, uses and incredible history.

Lastly, HOW’s editor, Jessica Kuhn, and contributor, Steven Heller, make a case for hand lettering with interviews from six creatives who utilize the skill. Are you ready to download?