fueled by

the print

Poster artist Andrew Vastagh is inspired by music, manufacturing and more!

Poster artist Andrew Vastagh is inspired by music, manufacturing and more!

Andrew Vastagh, a poster artist and the current chairman of the American Poster Institute (API), says creating a perfectly printed silkscreened poster requires a designer to be artistically sound and mindful of the totalitarian craft that consists of manually pulling ink over a screen repeatedly, using only an industrial-grade squeegee.

Under the moniker Boss Construction, Vastagh creates digital designs then prints negative image stencils onto a screen. Traditionally, the process was called silk-screen printing because natural silk was used to make the stencil. These days, screens are constructed from synthetic threads like polyester. To create a print, the rubber squeegee is pulled over oil, water or plastic-based ink called plastisol. Beyond the design itself, Vastagh says artistry is also found in the way artists achieve a full spectrum of colors using halftones of only four colors layered over each other — cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK).

Every year, API works to coalesce the national community of professional poster designers and produce the Flatstock poster show series for serious collectors. Bands and fans have fueled the art form for the last several decades, so Flatstock runs concurrently at major music fests around the globe, including SXSW in Austin this March.

A Vastagh Low Res 1 Rgb
Every piece has to be a solution to a problem, a message that needs to be conveyed beautifully, creatively and practically.


FUELED BY: What’s something about designing screen-printed posters that still inspires you?

ANDREW VASTAGH: The execution of producing the actual print. The fact that’s its grounded in the analog — maintaining that hands-on, ink-in-your-fingernail approach.

FB: Drop some knowledge on an up-and-coming designer.

AV: Embrace mistakes and, as early as possible, learn how to work smarter not harder. It was through some mistakes that I started to understand how overlaying colors created way more color options than I thought could be achieved. That was incredible. Then I learned thatlimiting my pallet created exciting challenges. Continuously evolve.

FB: What’s this “halftone” you speak of?

AV: Picture a solid color square. Now imagine that solid color broken down into a checkerboard pattern of dots. The closer those dots are to each other, you see a darker tone of that color. Space the dots out and make those dots smaller — it creates a lighter tone of the same color. From afar, you can create a gradient.

FB: What was your path to the poster world?

AV: I was always drawing and daydreaming. I knew I wanted to be an artist, but I also knew I didn’t want to be a starving artist — so I went into graphic design in college. I got interested in type form, messaging, and that gray area between fine art, typography and the practical purpose of printed propaganda, so to speak. With posters, every piece has to be a solution to a problem, a message that needs to be conveyed beautifully, creatively and practically. I have a need to solve problems, but I’m horrible at math, so this art form allows me to tap into that side of myself.

FB: How has music fueled your career with posters?

AV: I was into the DIY music scene but I had no music talent, so making show posters was a way to hang out with my music friends and get into shows. When I saw people were taking my posters off bar walls and lampposts before the show even happened — that was the first sign that people like the stuff I make. I never saw myself as a gallery artist — that wasn’t the world I knew. Bar walls and lampposts were my gallery. I love the challenge of being presented with a music-related job: Here’s a band, here’s their music, here’s the show date, and the city and venue — go! For creative inspiration, I’m listening to that band, digging for a lyrical inspiration to interpret. That’s an exciting part of the process every single time. I feel this drive and excitement to create something that represents my art and this band.