After we had set the stage with our first show it was soon time to turn up the volume and rock the house some more. We returned with Röckaholics II on October 2, 2010. Once again we managed to assemble a line-up of rock art's finest and once more Villa Rosenmatt in Wädenswil/Zurich was to be the beautiful setting for a night to remember.

The show poster for this event was created by the one and only Guy Burwell. Here you will find pictures showing and explaining the process of its creation.

For Röckaholics II Albert cranked out some more of his wickedly beautiful and strictly limited aluminum prints of images by some of the coolest and most talented artists of our time and we have worked on some more goodies to make this as unique and special as everybody could rightfully expect.

One of them was the screening of Merle Becker's award-winning documentary 'American Artifact: The Rise of American Rock Poster Art'.

© Chuck Sperry

In addition to bringing to our guests a wealth of true gems from the treasure chest of the rock poster world we also allowed them to take a first peek into another art form which is just as close to our hearts and perfectly in sync with the Röckaholics platform: Rock Photo Art. With Fabian von Unwerth we introduced an artist who is just as fresh and take-no-prisoners-cool as Slash's opening-riff to Paradise City was when it first aired back in 1987. We could not think of a better act to get everybody into the groove for Röckaholics II and we knew that he would have everybody coming back for more ... and right we were and oh there will be ...

So... Röckaholics II , the fastest getaway car to a place where rock 'n' roll dreams come true - featured:

Guy Burwell | BlackYard | Ron Donovan | Michael Hacker | Chris Hopewell/Jacknife Posters
Lindsey Kuhn | Malleus Rock Art Lab | Chuck Sperry

Guy Burwell ( *1965 | Portland, OR (USA) | )

© Fabian von Unwerth
It has once been said that the best concert poster artists are those who never give up hoping that their best creation, the one they will always be remembered by, is yet to come. I would add that it is those who not only develop their own distinctive style but are never content with citing themselves but keep pushing the boundaries of the possible, adding shades and facets to their repertoire and leave us in utter surprise with each single new release. Having said that one name that instantly comes to my mind is: Guy Burwell. I can honestly say that there is not one poster he has put out over the course of the past years that I have not immediately wanted to own, not one of his creations that hasn't had me marvel at the subtle humour and various underlying currents he typically works into the layers beyond the immediately obvious and not one that I do not enjoy to revisit time and time again. So what's his secret? Many have tried to put it into words and some have come up with explanations such as the following: "His distinctive line work can be like a kick in the teeth, all hard lines and action, giving the impression that the art might cut your skin if you get too close. At other times, he can fill the lines with helium, floating the images just beyond the grip of reality in pools of color that aren't meant to coexist peacefully. Any which way you approach the images, give them a good close look because there are things to see well beyond the cursory glance. But never. Ever. Turn your back on them." My take on it is that in the world of gig posters, where imagery often is very straightforward and highly charged with youthful, raw energy like the power chords of the music it usually supports, Guy's art although equally spot-on and in tune with the bands it supports, stands out for its delicacy and richness of detail like a jazz band at a metal festival which still manages to get the metalheads to clap and tap along.

Over the years Guy Burwell has created posters for bands and artists like Andrew Bird, Bad Religion, The Cure, Dandy Warhols, Dave Matthews Band, The Decemberists, Faith No More, Fantomas, Fight of the Conchords, Jackie Marshall, Kings of Leon, The Melvines, moe., Mudhoney, My Morning Jacket, The Notwist, Pearl Jam, Phish, Queens of the Stone Age, The Raveonettes, Sonic Youth, Vampire Weekend, Widespread Panic, The White Stripes and Umphrey's McGee. In addition Guy has created album cover illustrations and design, painting, clothing graphics and magazine work to his portfolio. He also designed conceptual material for video games and animated projects for Nickelodeon and snowboards for K2 as well as contributed to Guitar Hero III.
(GDS, May 2010)

"With the interest in and market for what the poster artists around the world are trying to create, it is always great that small pockets of interest are starting to make themselves known around the globe, especially in new cities and towns where the awareness of this global form of art are less known. Röckaholics in Zurich is a shining example of how our work can be brought to a greater market, a wider interest and to new groups of viewers who will always see something with each viewing. It's great to get new, sophisticated viewers. Guenther is doing a great job of bringing our work to Zurich, Switzerland, and beyond. We had a great show, and though, as with any new venue, new market, we didn't sell a lot of our work, it is a fabulous introduction of the art to new fans, and a great introduction of the artists, myself included, to new cities, new culture, and to new experiences that will shape what we bring to the world in future shows. Excellent fans, Guenther and the Mantels, and Röckhalics, are making great efforts, driven by pure enthusiasm for the medium, to bring these shows to reality, and we really appreciate the efforts, the great venue and the crazy awesome experience of visiting Zurich to bring our work to a wider audience."
(Guy Burwell, November 12, 2010)


BlackYard (Berne, Switzerland |

© Fabian von Unwerth
In downtown Berne's picturesque 'Matte' district four graphic designers/illustrators have come together to jointly carry the torch of rock poster art into Switzerland under the moniker BlackYard. The collective consists of Silvio Brügger (*1977) Christian Calame (*1982), Jared Muralt (*1982) and Philipp Thöni (*1975). Philipp Thöni, winner of the Best on Wall Award for the best poster of the area 1988-1998, has had already had more than 10 years of independent poster and album design work under his belt as 'the sparkplugs' and was featured in many international publications as a leading poster artist before forming BlackYard. Equally, Silvio Brügger cut his teeth as co-founder of a now leading city magazine and as art director in the advertising world before joining BlackYard where he in particular contributes his unique text illustrations and typography. Christian Calame comes from the tradition of American comics and has made a name for himself as contributor of comics known for their witty and merciless capturing of the idiosyncrasies of everyday life to national newspapers to now add a healthy element of the scurrile to the collective's art, making it even more recognisable and unique. Jared Muralt, maybe a tad more subtle and fragile in bringing his art to life than his partners and probably closer to the tradition of the Franco-Belgian bande dessinée than any other poster artist working today ensures that BlackYard's art is instantly identifiable as being truly European and thus honest which makes it all the more lovable.

BlackYard typically work on projects jointly, putting them together in a most organic fashion with each member bringing his respective talent to the table and adding or dismissing elements on equal terms but might on occasion just as well work on jobs individually thus making it impossible to predict what will come next, keeping their growing fanbase on the tip of their toes. Part of BlackYard's distinctive style is owed to the fact that they sketch, draw and ink by hand and only utilize machines to merge all textures and layers when preparing the artwork for printing. Having almost instantly become a fixture of the national scene BlackYard have just as swiftly won the hearts of the poster collecting community and we cannot wait to watch the fire their torch will set to the shallow paperwork of uninspired merchants and which will hopefully be a guiding light for many aspiring young artists and help to firmly put Switzerland on the map of the rock poster world.
(GDS, May 2010)


Ron Donovan (*1965 | San Francisco, CA (USA) |

© Fabian von Unwerth
Many commentators have written about San Francisco-based cult rock poster print shop 'Firehouse Kustom Rockart Company' and the huge catalogue of incredible posters - all of them definitive of the genre - which has sprung from their collective chemistry over the years continuing right up to the present day which sees them at the top of their game. Additional proof of Firehouse's mastery is the fact that they have been invited to collaborate with and to print posters for other legends of the scene such as Frank Kozik, Rick Griffin, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, and Victor Moscoso. The yin and yang driving Firehouse, equally contributing their artistic firepower, are artists Chuck Sperry and Ron Donovan. All too often in the case of supergroups, regardless of genre, the resulting whole is less than the sum of its parts. In this respect, Firehouse has for sure defied convention. The reason for this lies in the simple fact that whilst they collaborate on many projects and jointly push the limits of the possible they have remained individual artists, each distinguished by his very own style. For my sermon on Chuck please see further below, this one is dedicated to artist Ron Donovan.

For the uninitiated, Ron Donovan deals in a superlatively potent and intoxicating mix of metallic inks, revisited psychedelic imagery and purest rock 'n' roll. My first encounter with Ron Donovan's art was one of the posters he and Chuck were commissioned to do by Virgin to promote the release of certain records. To be precise it was the one he did for Madonna's 2000 'Music' album. Now, as rock with a capital R is what fills my cup anything that features Madonna usually would not end up in my collection and yet it has. This is because of the unlikely shotgun marriage between pop iconography and amazing colour combination Ron has managed in this one. It is exactly this, the welding of intelligently rearticulated iconic images with handmade design and unique colours which has become Ron's trademark. Other examples of this from my collection would be Ron's 2009 posters for The Cult, for Van Morrison or for Eric Clapton.

Then again Ron refuses to be pigeonholed and is determined to keep pushing the stylistic envelope. Metal? Why yes. Country? Yes indeed. Punk? How did you guess? Yes again! As a result of this you will find amongst my collection pieces like his 2007 Rancid poster which bristles with punk energy, the individually hand finished 2007 and 2010 posters for the Crossroads Guitar Festival which evoke no less than the spirit of a Bruce Springsteen or Neil Young, or his posters for Heaven and Hell (2009) and Turbonegro (2004) which flirt with the insignia of metal. I do not know many artists that could capture so many different vibes and still be relevant.

Ron Donovan has so far created posters for artists such as Erykah Badu, Beck, Black Crows, Moonalice, Eric Clapton & Jeff Beck, Chris Cornell, The Cult, Eagles of Death Metal, Gwar, Heaven & Hell, Jane's Addiction, Madonna, moe., Monster Magnet, Patti Smith, Puddle of Mudd, Queens Of The Stone Age, Rage Against The Machine, Rancid, Sisters Of Mercy, Spin Doctors, Tool, Turbonegro, Umphrey's McGee and Van Morrison.
(GDS, July 2010)


Michael Hacker (*1981 | Vienna, Austria |

© Fabian von Unwerth
Chuck Sperry once told me that when the rock poster movement started in San Francisco back in the late 1960s part of the inspiration of the early poster creators came from the works of the Austrian artists of the Vienna Secession. Another influence often cited by or apparent in today's concert posters is Alfons Mucha, again an artist from the old Austrian-Hungarian Empire. In addition there is Stefan Sagmeister, another great Austrian, who by designing the famous poster for Lou Reed's 'Set the Twilight Reeling' album release and subsequent tour created one of the most outstanding images of rock which will forever be remembered for its capturing the extremely personal nature of the albums lyrics by literally carving them into the singer's face, and then there is Gottfried Helnwein's celebrated work for Rammstein, Marilyn Manson and the Scorpions which has been internationally recognized not least for its distinctive and disturbing elements which now can often be seen reflected also in poster art. In the light of this it has always given me pain that my home country has for what seemed a very long time remained a white spot on the map of the rock poster world. I am glad to be able to say that this has changed now and it is Michael Hacker who made things right by taking up silk-screening and starting to produce limited editions of spirited posters for concerts.

Michael Hacker, part of the Vienna-based artist collective 'Atzgerei', a creator of comics and of illustrations for magazines, has in the short time that has passed since the Atzgerei print-shop has opened its doors and given the limited opportunities available in Austria put out a respectable number of gig posters. He has truly made the most of these by using them as vehicles to display the range of his talent which covers almost the entire known spectrum. So his posters include comic-type ones which are usually executed with a lot of humour and sometimes with a certain tendency towards mild gore that would do a Misfits or Green Jellÿ album justice. At other times Michael's posters are reduced and condensed with a strong emphasis on balanced style and heightened aesthetic like the one he did for the Eagles of Death Metal.

Michael and the Atzgerei collective have so far created posters for bands as diverse as Deichkind, Devil Driver, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Dinosaur Jr., Eagles of Death Metal, Fu Manchu, Isis, Mastodon, Melt-Banana, The Melvins, Prong, The Scarabeusdream, Sonic Youth, Unsane, as well as for a number of festivals.
(GDS, June 2010)


Chris Hopewell/Jacknife Posters ( *1965 | Bristol, UK |

© Fabian von Unwerth
Rock poster art is an inherently American art form. Many's the time I have heard that said and admittedly it does sound plausible. Especially if you say it real fast. Then again the same has been said about rock 'n' roll and building legendary motorcycles. Be that as it may, I for one am overjoyed to learn that a new wave of British poster artists has arrived. My hope is they will help to further enforce in the rock poster art world what bands like The Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols and Motörhead have originally brought to its underlying realm: that no-nonsense, head-on, genuinely cool and brutally honest feeling which makes up the magic of the eternal voice of the rebellious. Riding right on top of that wave is the Bristol-based Jacknife collective, headed by its founder Chris Hopewell.

Chris Hopewell, an award-winning music video director who has previously worked with bands such as Radiohead, Franz Ferdinand, The Killers and The Offspring formed Jacknife in 2006 after having visited Flatstock at the SXSW festival in Austin, TX, where he was inspired by Chuck Sperry and Ron Donovan of legendary, San Francisco-based Firehouse Kustom Rock Art Co. Hopewell's posters typically come in one of two distinctive styles - either as art nouveau designs or reminiscent of 1960s exploitation films with exaggerated scantily-clad women, vintage cars, guns, and dramatic type selections. If you asked me to describe the feel of particularly the latter I would probably say that they - at least form me - have the power to conjure up images from the street-smart and witty lyrics poetry of a Bon Scott circa of AC/DC's 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap' or 'Powerage'-era or ones linked to the aesthetic of a hard rockin' Rose Tattoo or maybe even of early Stoner Rock such as Kyuss. Either way, they are honest and real as Chris Hopewell's art is at all times original and kind of an ideal blend of vintage and modern, informed by punk and typically combined with a subtle display of this famed British stiff upper lip attitude.

Although Jacknife have only rather recently joined the ranks of rock art's major league they have already produced an impressive wealth of first-rate gig posters for such well known bands as for example Ash, Baroness, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Eagles of Death Metal, Gallows, Queens of the Stone Age, Sick of it All and Supersuckers.
(GDS, May 2010)


Lindsey Kuhn ( *1968 | Denver, CO (USA) |

© Fabian von Unwerth
Sometimes it is best to let the pictures do the talking. In trying to capture the essence of rock poster artist Lindsey Kuhn that is probably a good piece of advice and the quintessential piece from his extensive catalogue of silkscreened posters I would pick to do so is his 2008 poster for NOFX's concert at the Fillmore in Denver. Reduced to the max in its use of colours, lettering and imagery and yet spot on to capture the essence of the band. But it does more than that. It also tells the story of its creator.

Over the course of more than two decades Lindsey has earned as much street cred as a skater as he has as a poster artist and he has managed to merge both these worlds which he inhabits with equal passion into one rough and authentic lifestyle. It is this unique convergence which resonates from his art and which in particular radiates from this very poster. As the founder of Conspiracy Skateboards he knew to pick a credible picture which would speak to the fan base of this all American skater punk rock band. As the weathered screen printer who has repeatedly been called upon to print for other legends such as Frank Kozik who had helped to define the style of that very genre he knew exactly which color to use and how to finish it all off in that unpolished style which marks the feel of that sub-culture. Voilà there you have it: the most perfect skater punk rock poster ever created.

But don't let yourself be fooled and try to squeeze Lindsey into that particular box. If you are prepared to take a ride his art will take you on a journey filled with images from the bayous of the Mississippi river regions, the Unites States' recent political history and revisited American pop art alike.

Lindsey has created rock posters for hundreds of bands like AC/DC, Aerosmith, Bad Religion, Bauhaus, Beck, Björk, Black Crows, The Butthole Surfers, Clutch, Cypress Hill, Danzig, Eagles of death Metal, Fishbone, The Flaming Lips, The Hellacoptas, Hank III, Helmet, High On Fire, The Hives, Iggy & the Stooges, Judas Priest, Korn, Marilyn Manson, MC5, The Melvins, Metallica, The Misfits, Monster Magnet, Motörhead, Mudhoney, My Bloody Valentine, Nashville Pussy, No Doubt, NOFX, Neko Case, Nine Inch Nails, Pantera, Pearl Jam, Pennywise, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Public Enemy, Queens of the Stone Age, Rancid, The Reverend Horton Heat, Rob Zombie, Rollins Band, Slayer, The Smashing Pumpkins, Social Distortion, Sonic Youth, Supersuckers, Tool, White Zombie, The White Stripes, ZZ Top and more.
(GDS, August 2010)


Malleus Rock Art Lab (Tortona, Italy |

© Fabian von Unwerth
If Aleister Crowley would today be looking for someone to supply the imagery for his tarot there would only be one address he could turn to: Malleus Rock Art Lab. From Tortona in Italy one of the most imaginative and distinctive artist collectives has set out to enrich the world of rock poster art. In this predominantly American world the works created by Poia, Lu and Urlo are immediately recognizable as they come in shades so distinctively European by capturing a spirit that can only have originated from somewhere were the fanatic wrath of the inquisition has been just as much at large as the genius of the greatest minds and were suffering lovers have ended their lives with silver daggers whilst reciting the verses of the ancient poets in their original hexameter.

Trying to distil Malleus' complex style into a few catch-all descriptions must lead to a sentence overwrought with alliterations of termini technici. My stab at this would be: blackened art nouveau mixed with elements of surrealism and quotes from the school of expressionism glowing in its amber, resulting in an almost psychedelically overwhelming experience of visual magik.

At the centre of Malleus' art we often find beautiful, yet mysterious women, celebrating the primordial goddess. Usually this is accentuated by occult symbolism worked into arcane textures. All of the power trio's works are based on masterful hand-drawings and reflect the artists' deep understanding and love for music.

I was recently asked to name my five most favourite Malleus pieces. This has proven almost impossible to do as I was basically required to shoot a moving target, but at least the list I have come up with to some degree reflects the diversity of the collective's opus and might serve as a point of entry for those ready to enter this world. I first fell in love with 'American Hi-Fi', one of their first pieces which is iconic in its simplicity and wonderfully reminiscent of advertisements for 1940s American motorcycles. The second time I fell in love with Malleus was when I saw the posters they did for Fantômas in 2006 and 2009 in Klimt-like splendour. This love grew further when I lay my eyes on their 2009 poster for Sleep which was carried out in the same impressionist fashion. To round things off I would like to mention their 2005 Acid Mothers Temple poster which is a perfect example of a poster perfectly mirroring the style of a band - in this case psychedelic to the bone.

Malleus' extensive catalogue of posters created to date includes works for acts such as: Amanda Palmer, Auf der Maur, Baroness, Beck, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Blues Explosion, Brant Bjork, Johnny Cash, The Chemical Brothers, The Cure, Deftones, Dinosaur Jr., The Donnas, Dresden Dolls, Eagles of Death Metal, Fantômas, Fishbone, Flaming Lips, Helmet, Iggy Pop & The Stooges, Incubus, Isis, Jovanotti, Kings of Leon, Korn, Linkin Park, Mars Volta, Melvins, Mogwai, Motorpsycho, Monster Magnet, Mark Lanegan, Mudhoney, Muse, The Prodigy, Robert Plant, Queen of the Stone age, Sonic Youth, Tool, Turbonegro, Ufomammut and many more...
(GDS, June 2010)


Chuck Sperry (*1962 | San Francisco, CA (USA) |

© Fabian von Unwerth
If anybody truly deserves credit for having managed to carry the visual essence and legacy of the 60's dream as conceptualized in Haight-Ashbury and distilled into posters by artists such as Bill Graham, Rick Griffin or Stanley Mouse over into the 21st century, it would most definitely be San Francisco's legendary print shop 'The Firehouse Kustom Rockart Company'. But the power duo behind this moniker has done so much more than drag a powerful vision kicking and screaming into a new age. By translating it into their very own insatiably addictive style they have launched a profound aesthetic revolution in the world of rock poster art and by teaching and inspiring artists around the world through their regular tours and workshops they have helped to unleash the current wave of contemporary rock art and to turn it into a global phenomenon. Firehouse is as much curios as fascinating a blend of visions, but certainly one that was hand built to last and that has thus gained a dedicated following of collectors around the world.

One half of this powerhouse is Chuck Sperry. Chuck first made a name for himself as an editor and hot-button cartoonist in the political 'zine and post-Zap Comix tradition before joining the 'Psych Sparkplug Printing Collective' in San Francisco and finally setting up shop together with his equally gifted partner Ron Donovan.

When it comes to Chuck simply all superlatives apply although I am sure that modest as he is he would merely laugh at such a pretentious claim.

The first thing that stands out from Chuck's brilliant artwork is his use of audacious metallic inks and positively incredible colour combinations. Honestly, this must be seen firsthand to be believed as no photo could ever do this cornucopia of awesomeness justice. I had myself for months admired images of the poster he had done for 'American Artifact' in 2009, but when he finally gave me the original he had reserved for me this summer its almost blinding intensity simply blasted apart everything I had up to that point believed to know and expected of screen printed colours. And trust me, that takes a lot of dynamite. Equally I was completely blown away when I received his 2010 Umphrey's McGee poster. Its composition and use of materials was already astounding at a first glance but it was only when I put on those 3D glasses Chuck had sent ahead of the tube that it revealed its true colours and I could literally see that frog come alive. Amazing.

Other elements that typically characterize Chuck's work are his expert use of unique fonts and his ability to capture an entire era, movement or school without copying but rather reinventing it. A good example of this is his 2009 'Reel Big Fish/The English Beat' poster which definitely is one of the best takes on Klimt I can think of. It certainly is the sexiest and non-kitsch one I have seen in ages and trust me, being Austrian I have seen a couple... Similarly the wonderful set of matching 'Widespread Panic' posters he did in 2009 and 2010 is a perfect encapsulation of the quintessence of both 60s psychedelia and 70s blaxsploitation movies but executed without having got to rely on even the slightest hint of pathos or attitude.

Chuck Sperry has, through the years, created posters for the biggest names in music. Amongst them: A.C. Newman, Aerosmith, Amanda Palmer, Audioslave, Bad Religion,Clutch, Big Business, Black Crowes, Brian Selzer Orchestra, Clutch, Cranberries, Eric Clapton, Cypess Hill, Danzig, Dinosaur Jr., The Donnas, Fantômas, Gregg Allman, Gov't Mule, High On Fire, Jane's Addiction, Jesus Lizard, Killers, Joe Strummer, Limp Bizkit, Marilyn Manson, Massive Attack, Melvins, Moby, Mogwai, Moonalice, Motörhead, Mudhoney, My Morning Jacket, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Pennywise, Snoop Dogg, Paul Weller, Queens Of The Stone Age, Rancid, The Rolling Stones, Sisters of Mercy, Umphrey's McGee and Widespread Panic.
(GDS, June 2010)

"Guenther Dobrauz-Saldapenna, organized and curated Röchaholics II, a great gathering of some of the world´s best Rock Poster artists and photographers. Guenther also introduced me to Heinrich Mantel AG, producer of the finest anodized aluminum editions in Europe today. Guy Burwell, Lindsey Kuhn, Ron Donovan, Malleus, Chris Hopewell, BlackYard, Michael Hacker, Fabian von Unwerth and I took residence at the Rosenmatt Villa to throw down some rock visuals and have a great opening. I was met at the Zurich train station by Lindsey and Guenther who took me directly to meet the other artists; we were shown around the premises of Heinrich Mantel AG, maker of the finest anodized aluminum in Europe, and large format, highest quality, silkscreen printer. It was explained how our editions of anodized aluminum would be digitally printed ink would be layered over and over in a very time-consuming process where the image is scribed 7 times over and over to drive the image deeply into the carefully prepared aluminum substrate. In exact, precise alignment each print in the edition is entirely scribed over and over to add richness and detail. Then the aluminum, with the image deeply imbedded into it, is heated in a finely controlled process to bond it into the metal and seal it over with an anodized layer of bonded oxygen molecules."
(Chuck Sperry, November 13, 2010)


© Dobrauz-Saldapenna