Media File
Wes Wilson
Date: American artist and designer, 1937–2020
Biography: Born in Sacramento, California, Wilson did not study art, but began making posters and promotional materials as an assistant to his friend Bob Carr, who had formed Contact Printing in his basement. Carr was active in the alternative culture of San Francisco, and Contact Printing produced handbills for various alternative groups, venues, and events. By the mid-1960s Wilson was designing posters for promoter Chet Helms' shows at the Open Theater and the Avalon Ballroom. In 1966 Wilson began working for promoter Bill Graham, who gave him complete artistic freedom in designing posters for the Fillmore Auditorium. With their flowing letters and intense colors, Wilson's Fillmore posters came to define the psychedelic aesthetic of the late 1960s, earning the artist an award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1968. In 1976, Wilson relocated with his family to a cattle farm in the Missouri Ozarks. In the 1990s, Wilson edited Off the Wall, a short-lived but highly influential journal on poster art, and organized the Rock Art Expos, large poster conventions in San Francisco.