John Van Hamersveld (US)

John Van Hamersveld (US)

If you feel like I should give an explaination why John Van Hamersveld is not classified as a Legend, you will find an explanation here.Since 1997 he runs his own line of products revisiting his work from 1964–1974, which he calls “Post-Future.” His past work, along with gigposters, includes Magical Mystery Tour (Beatles), Exile on Main Street (Rolling Stones), Crown of Creation (Jefferson Airplane), Skeletons in the Closet (The Grateful Dead) or Hotter Than Hell (Kiss) and Eat to the Beat (Blondie). Not a legend....not a legend...well, lets face it, please welcome poster Legend's John Van Hamersveld

Hello, of course as every Crewk interview, first question: what are we listening to when we come to visit you?

Kcrw FM!

Can you tell us more about yourself, who are you, where are you from, what do you do?

I am John Van Hamersveld a third generation with the name, dutch and from a family of science and art. In 1950 we came from the east to Southern California. I became an art student 1961, at Art Center School, and was in the art school system for 21 years as student and instructor at Cal Arts.

When did you start drawing?

My Mother and Father taught me how to drawing and make things from the drawings

Did you follow any course or did you improve by drawing in the margins of your schoolbooks?

I did both! I was in art school and the industries in a back and forth education learning about drawing and technology.

Today are you living from your art, or do you do something else for a living ?

I am multidiscipline in three areas of the arts and known as a graphic designer of the film poster the Endless Summer, that is collected by MOMA and LACMA as the design poster. But I am as artist and illustrator to others because of the Hendrix Poster, collected as well, And also a reportage photographer with photography shows.

Are you collaborating with magazines/fanzines, regularly?

Are there any art directors who would be interest in collaborating with me!

Where does your influence come from?

After studying Psychology for 14 years, I would say influence comes from the unconscious mind. This means you don't know!

Is there any artists/graphists you particularly like, what are your influences?

I ran around with Rick Griffin when I was an art student in the 60s. It seemed I was in the art, illustration mode that we shared in at the time, from Surfer Magazine to Psychedelic Posters. I was attached line and to woodcut masters like M. C. Escher, Hokusai, Hiroshige of the edo age in their Japanese floating world, and Rene Magritte, Milton Glaser, Victor Moscocos of the sixties.

What are the principal steps in your work ?

The thought is first, the sketch is the idea, the layers of compositional drawing, the then final drawing. Also there is the production process to achieve the quality of print.

Do you do everything by hand or on computer?

 Both… I make large stencil like drawing and scan them to use as data for the computer applications

 How long does it take you to do a poster?

My drawings taken about 140 hours in the drawing process, then there are days on the computer make the documents for printing.

You have a very distinctive style, are you doing only what you feel like or if tomorrow somebody asks you an oil painting with horses running out of water with a sunset backdrop, is it a problem or are you up for it ?

The computer is contained in a small space, in half light. I needs a large space to paint images which cost more, it's to much money for what attention you might get in value for the painting one makes. So I guess if you gave me a large space to make work than you get in a painted product from me.

For which band have you already worked for?

The last was the CREAM in 2005, and Clapton and Winwood Tours from 2007 to today

For which band would you love to work?

Any band that can afford to print the poster I think is the point at this time in history.

Do you choose to be the artist yourself?

I was tested when I was 14 years old at Layola University for aptitude. The Doctor explained to my parents I was off the charts in the artistic arts. So I had two art classes in high school.

What is the most difficult part in designing a poster?

Finding a client who will leave you alone with the designing of a poster.

Do you think you are part of a "Graphic Scene", if so who else?

What scene? do you mean CA magazine for Branders. Their staff in freelance, offsite. The other Graphic Scene is the media, maybe the other is the community that forms around your work. I have a loose relationship with TRPS, in San Francisco, but I am from LA and there is difference standard apparently in their view.

Today The Endless Summer I did in 1963 (48 years ago) between art school and working as an art director at Surfer is collected by LACMA in 2011, . and as the Modern in NYC
I can say it start the collect the contemporary poster collecting in the 60s, entering retail in 1966. The TES Poster was a bigger seller than Peter Max
A bit of self-promotion, take advantage of it, it's free, where can we see your work , on the web or in real life?

I notice the public promotion and shows are not money makers. It is about meeting real people that invest in your work.

What are you working on at the moment  ?

This became hit on the seventh of September. The drawing is from 1970. The show open and the drawing just left the gallery and went everywhere in the art scene. The poster silkscreened an edition of 80, 42 x 26 in size.

The best praise you received lately?

a Facebook comment…" I like everything you do and everything did

What can we wish you for the future?

To live and stay productive.

Thanks for answering my questions and see you soon on the website !!

Book My Art, My Life:  

John.Van Hamersveld's highly recognizable and sometimes psychedelic art fame began with the renowned color-saturated sunset and surfer Endless Summer poster for the 1966 movie. Inspired by a sunset photo of a beach in Orange County, it was destined to become an internationally recognized icon of Southern California's surfing scene. His works include famous album covers for the Beatles and Rolling Stones, as well as concert posters for Jimi Hendrix and Cream.

Van Hamersveld's journey took him from these sun-drenched beaches to the drug-infused world of Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Laurel Canyon, hotbeds of countercultural activity and attitudes in the 1960s.

After the college campus riots of 1969, it was all about Woodstock - not just an event, a happening, or a concert with 400,000 people, but a pivotal moment of realization for an entire generation and an entire country.

Van Hamersveld was not just a chronicler, but a player and forger of the surf culture that defined a generation and that continues to make an old world young again.

Throughout My Art, My Life, Van Hamersveld recounts his early life as a canvas or archetypal modes that tell the tale of the beginning of an entire Southern California culture that attracted and inspired youth West and East worldwide. His style is more Kesey than Kerouac, recounting a past as an object of the present, filled with bright images that gladden the heart.

3 mythic posters story :
How the Endless Summer Poster Image became a Cultural Icon for Surfing Today

The Los Angeles County Art Museum received a gift of the 1965 Endless Summer Poster from the famous poster collector Mark Resnick. This is a story about the graphic designer John Van Hamersveld as a student and professional, as he connects and influences the design arts.

Arriving at the arches of the Spanish revival style railroad station in Downtown Los Angeles, my mother, my sister, and I all had experienced a long journey. We had traveled from Towson, Maryland through the Midwest to the desert town of Gallop train station and through the Indian Reservation in New Mexico. Coming to Los Angeles brought a new life for our family. I was all of nine years old at the time. Southern California became a new world for me to grow up in, a completely different environment than the idealized four seasons of the east coast.

In this writing, I would like to provide a view of what it was like to learn about graphic design and to apply the art form as an art student by transitioning my work and making images out of my art education. I would like to provide a view of how the process of design is distributed and how the work connects to the audience, as the designed image becomes an icon for culture around the world. Recently, I went to an alumni event at California Institute of the Arts. At the event, I met my students from my "Making Images" class I had taught for 7 years from 1975 to 1982. They told me how, 35 years later, they still used the instruction in their design work.

I grew up on the east coast, where there are four seasons. I then became a teen in Southern California during a time that was the development of a new generation of the Surfer, as Surf Culture became visible to Hollywood in the 50s. By the 60s, a whole new generation brought Surf Culture to Pop Culture media and products. I bought a Velzy and Jacobs Surfboard in 1954, and took the adventure as a reality with my Surfer Gang friends, who extended up and down the coast of California in surfer communities with people all wanting to be Surfer's.

Art Student attending Art Center

Graduating from El Segundo High School in 1959, I was an artist and majored in Art. However, I was a surfer, so I didn't go off to college, but instead I traveled to Aspen Colorado to learn how to ski. There, one day I met an old sophisticated man, who was the manager of the Jerome Hotel in town. Once a week, I taught him how to ski. On the chair lift ride to the top of the mountain, he would discuss my young life regarding how I should return to college and get a good job. I spoke with my grandmother, who was a Wall Street player, and she spoke with me about my career choice to go to art school. From Cleveland, she told me on the telephone that "you should buy a gas station… you will never make a living being an artist." However, she still wrote the checks as I went to Art Center College.

I remember that day when I rolled up in front of the school in my 1950 Pontiac Super Chief Sedan, having carried my surfboard over my teen years in the same car. It was June 1961 and I stepped out of the car to walk into my Art Center College drawing class, located at the corner of Los Palmas Street and 5353 West Third Street. My life's course was set and Art Center provided me with fond memories.

My counselor at Art Center had laid out my course schedule for the year and I started my classes.

On Monday, Jim Jorgensen taught advertising, where we had to come up with ideas that were handmade by drawing compositions, photographic collages, and instant typographical elements pasted down on 20x15 inch illustration boards. Mr. Jorgensen was a very clever guy in his black suit, white shirt, and black tie - sort of the uniform like the other instructors wore. There were funny parts of Mr. Jorgensen. His bald head made him look like a small genie. With a hand full of cellophane crumpled up in his fist, he would make the sound of crackling. Out of his mouth came the words… "It's the sizzle, not the steak," as a jingle-like line for an advertising commercial.

On Tuesday morning, I arrived, walking up the stair case, to enter my instructor George Harris' classroom. This was the color class, where I was showing my nights work. I had my flat brush with a green plastic handle and goulash designer colors, with a white pan to mix with. Then, I had to judge my color mixing and apply it to smooth paper, tediously cutting-up the paper in one inch squares mounting them perfectly with rubber cement. After that, every thing was perfect. Then, I put on the brown paper flap to protect it. At this class, I had to pin the board up on the wall for the critique. Mr. Harris would come into the class and take off his coat, standing there in his white shirt and thin black tie to conduct the critique. With his red hair and mustache, he continued to walk down the line, looking for faults. If he found one or two, he unpinned one and it would fall to the floor. This is where you had to learn how to be perfect to fit into the Art Center mold.

On Wednesday, I went to Bernyce Polifka's Graphic Design class. There we usually worked in class. I brought a pile of exotic papers from McManus and Morgan on 7th Street in LA. I would meticulously cut and paste pieces for a collage design on illustration board. She would critique the group with her expertise, applying her Disney Studio education. One day she asked me to stand up and lead the class in a review of the day's work, teaching us that we couldn't get away with being shy.

On Thursday, I struggled through the night, hand drawing in perspective for the instructor Donald Youngkin, who taught Perspective One and Two and described "Perspective" as "Horse Sense." Everyone had to draw plates drafted on white sheets of strathmore paper to find ways to make every angle perfect and then make sense of drawings with people. It was funny to obscure each person's drawings of people because the drawings were not developed enough. Students had to do what they could to get the through the class. This is where I learned to compose compositions of figures.

Gene Fleury, taught drawing theory. Each session was so clever - the way we were taught to see and understand how to make an image while a different in learning how to draw the human figure with Harry Carmean, who taught Life Drawing.

On Friday's, I would sit in fashion drawing with my instructor Midge Quenell, who created in my mind the dynamic line. The dynamic line is the simple line drawing that created a fashion figure or forms like a design. The topper was studying with Mort Leach to learn about letterform drawing by hand, with a quill pen and black ink. Learning how to understand all the various families of fonts that make up the world of typography was like understanding everything. Type construction could have style.

At 19 years old, I learned art history from Lorser Feitelson, who taught us about Italian masters on Saturdays. In front of me was the modern painter, expalaining lush italian painting in slides he took and telling about the Louvre Museum (Paris, France). As the Saturday classes went by, I was taken by the master of drawing and painting. Audobon Tyler, a very old man who arrived by cab in his black suit and cap with whisky on his breath smoking Camel cigarettes. He ordered a model for us to draw, but one drawing was to take 2 hours. The quitet room with 15 students was his domain as he went from one drawing to another making little drawings on the corner of the newsprint paper. As the hours became days and days became weeks, the 16 week course flowed by and the two semesters were over.

So the element of the art and design curricula I passed through at Art Center set in motion an unconscious ability to be a professional graphic designer at 20 years old. I could be creative.

Going To Work For The Summer

In May of 1962, I had a job with Northrop Aviation - I had worked with my father who worked there. They put me into the publication department to train for my job as an assistant production assistant in publication design.

Moving to the Surf Industry

In 1962, Rick Griffin was 17 and still going to Palos Verdes High School. At the time I was living in the Hollywood Riviera Apartments, just three blocks up from Torrance Beach, which was a meeting place for surfers. At the time, I had left Art Center College of Design and was working for Northrop Aviation, in Hawthorne, in their publication department. Rick Griffin and I would meet at Torrance Beach to surf. He would tell me stories about working with John Severson on his Murphy Cartoon Strips for Surfer magazine. Rick would draw the cartoons and John would write the stories for him. As the weekends passed and I continued working at Northrop, I decided that I could generate a surfing magazine out of my bedroom studio in the apartment and use the printer down the street to publish it. I told Rick that I was going to start this surfing magazine (which was to be called Surfing Illustrated) and Rick said he would draw some cartoons for it as well.

Soon, John Severson wanted to meet with me. Rick set up the phone call, and I talked to John briefly. He said, "I’ll meet you at the Tahitian restaurant in Long Beach on PCH at 6:00." That was in July, 1962. You would think that this was a secret rendezvous of the artists and publication designers. We sat in the restaurant talking about the surfing publication which I had recently done. I had become experienced as a publication designer through my job at Northrop Aviation to develop the look for Surfing Illustrated. Severson offered me the opportunity to work on his new Bi-monthly Surfer magazine. He wanted me to move to Dana Point.

Rick Griffin helped negotiate my worth with Severson, who felt he was eliminating competition in his market by hiring me. I went with the deal and built a position for myself by designing nine issues for him. Meeting everyone one would want to know in the small surf industry, I saw how the surf trade was made up of characters who not only surfed, but were able to develop a business out of their relationship with their product and with the ocean.

There I was in the office daily creating a bi-monthly magazine for surfers. The magazine was printed in Santa Ana. Sunset Magazine was printed there with a big circulation. Surfer had a circulation of 72,000. It only took half of a day to print the magazine, whereas other magazines were on the press for days. John Severson created a new building to house Surfer Products for mail-ordering to the new clientele. My office was on the second floor with a dark room to develop and make photo prints.

Through the months, as I designed 9 issues, I did ads and, in the process, I met people in the industry. In August of 1963, I met Paul Allen, the manager of the filmmaker Bruce Brown. I was doing the movie ad for Paul, and we became friends, which lead to a business card and a logo. Later, he and I started conversing about his new project, which was doing the film poster for the Endless Summer. This all added up to a call one day to come over to the Bruce Brown Production office in Dana Point, on Del Prado. We walked through the doorway, and Paul introduced me to Bruce who was sitting at his moviola. The film clicked by the view window as the images of the opening scene titling for this surf cult movie displayed. There were some sketches and conversations, but I had to organize how to compose the photos of the figures in the poster composition.

Days later, we met again at the office. We piled into two cars and went to Salt Creek, which is where I surfed a lot. There, I could make the composition of the three figures and get a 4 x 5 negative to make the black shapes of these three surfers. Working at the Surfer Magazine, I was able to get some large prints made. At Art Center, in my night class with Don Dana in advertising design, I made some comps of the basic design. Later I did the hand lettered Endless Summer title treatment.

At my kitchen table in Dana Point, as I finished the lettering of the title treatment for the poster, I always think back to my lessons with Mort Leach at Art Center. I think back to the idea that, in a pitch, I could do the letters myself as well as invent my own letterforms. The next day, I created the production paste up for the silkscreening to make the first posters. I felt that a dayglo poster with primary shapes would attract attention. Because of the influence of my Graphic Design instructor Bernyce Polifka, I realized that the color would be the whole visual event to the eye. I had learned from George Harris about color schemes. So, I chose an analogous color scheme, using the three primary and secondary hue positions against each other. I had learned to use all of the different tools to cut circles and shapes in Polifka's classes. In the class, we made collages out of paper that had been printed. Putting slick black line positives over the paper combined the image to make the abstraction of Surfers on a colored beach. The idea of composing composition for advertising came with Jim Jorgenson's instruction. During these days, I would design Surfer Magazine and would use colored blocks and line positives of the surfers in the magazine. As all my experiences collimated between art and design and the Endless Summer poster was born.

Looking to Go Back to Art School

I left Dana Point to go back to Art Center. The first small poster was completed and working. I ended my stay at Surfer Magazine. While I was in transit to Hollywood Rivera to my apartment, I was talked into designing Surf Guide Magazine with the writer of the book, "Surf Guide to Southern California." The magazine became a hit. Bruce, Hobie, and a group of surfers travel across America to show the "Endless Summer."

In February of 1965, Bruce Brown came by the studio to have a theater program introducing the 35 mm version of the movie with a soundtrack. As their tour was put together, they created the large poster for the theater.

I was planning to attend Art Center again and was in the process of continuing with classes, but dropped out of the school. Later, I got a job with California Apparel News. By August, I moved to West Adams Gardens Apartments and entered Chouinard Art Institute and was there for two semesters. There, I met instructor Louis Danziger, who taught design communication and helped me understand how media and communication with the audience works for image making.

In 1966, I was about to leave art school for summer vacation, when Warren Miller, a ski film director PR agent, called me and said he had bought an Endless Summer Poster at an art expo trade show where the poster was the hit of the show. I had heard about the full page ads in the NY Times from a student friend from New York. When the poster arrived in the mail and I pulled it out of the tube, it looked so big and beautiful in its dayglo colors, which represented summer. I was able to show it in my portfolio.

Entering the Arts and Entertainment Business

My summer job was at a design studio on La Cienega where the art scene of LA was happening at that time. The Ferus Gallery showed the pop art scene, and Ed Ruscha was in the building next to us where he was doing the production of ART FORUM. By December, my job was over. I didn't go back to school for the fall semester, and instead continued my design job, which I had picked up for 6 months. I rented the Coronado Street Studio for a year.

By February 1967, I received a call from George Osaki, who was the head art director for Capitol Records. I took out the Endless Summer Poster and put it in my portfolio of drawings and of the magazines from Surfer. I put on my clothes and showed up on the 6th floor for the interview. As I waited for a moment, I lit up a cigarette, a Kent - all white, and took a puff. But at the same time that the match went out, the secretary called me into his office. I was trying to talk, hold my cigarette, and manage opening my portfolio. When I got the Endless Summer poster out of the portfolio, I held it up in front of me. As I had pulled it up the cigarette ash fell to the floor and was burning the carpet as we spoke. I pulled the poster down to see him. He got up and reached over to the perfect white italian Book shelving to pull out an Endless Summer soundtrack album cover with the poster on the cover. It was fascinating to suddenly become a record cover designer at this ironic moment. George said he would call me in three weeks and we would talk about another interview. But I left with the carpet burnt at the foot of his desk, and I felt I had blown the interview.

For three weeks, I was in my Coronado Street Studio in the LA smog Downtown with some hot days. In retrospect, it was funny how one would have to wait by the phone for a call. The phone rang one day in the afternoon, and George asked me to come to the 8th floor office of Brown Meggs, who was the vice president of the CRDC. Again, an ironic meeting with the executive, who had signed the Beatles to the label in 1963. He was in suit and tie with an air of a Yale graduate in business, about 37 years old. I was still 25 years old. We shook hands and I entered the interview. He looked at me as if he was informed about me and made his quick offer. He said, "you are going to take this job - you cannot turn it down." I could only say… "Yes!" He said he was from the New York office of Capitol and in charge of the distribution of the records. I would be his personal art director. In this moment, the surfer and the artist connected. I later designed the American version of the Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" album cover and campaign.

With a job at Capitol, I also had a night shift agenda of my working for them by freelancing to make more money for my studio work. I started a rock concert venue with a community of artists called Pinnacle Production. By January 1967, we had put on two concerts, and I was questioning continuing with Capitol. I had designed and printed the Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane Pinnacle Posters. There was a call from Martin Geisler of Personality Posters, and he was excited to meet me and find out what I was doing. So Martin Geisler and his wife came to the studio and sat for a while. They asked if we could go have lunch. He kept talking about the Endless Summer Poster and how successful it was for his business. I pulled out the Pinnacle Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane poster and he instantly said he would distribute it for me with the Endless Summer Poster in stores everywhere around America.

The poster had opened shop because it sold so well. As I went to look around, I noticed that, because of the dayglo colors, the poster was also a black light product. My poster work got more exposure in pop culture. I would hear rumors like this from the brotherhood of surfers that had come back from Vietnam. Martin Geisler sold the Endless Summer Poster to Military PX stores. The rumors came from returning soldiers telling the images of dark, underground, cave-like tunnels, where suited soldiers as surfers would hang the posters up and create a throne with pictures from surf magazines mixed with candles and incense. They would be rocking to the voice of Jim Morrison, smoking joints, and listening to the helicopters sound, smoothly humming in the background of the stressed-out day, second guessing the VC in battle outside the cave.

I meet with Brown Meggs again after ending the Pinnacle experience, he giving me a job so I could make some money for my trip to London. I had the address for Derek Taylor, who traveled back and forth to and from London on music business as the press secretary for the Beatles. I met with him in London at his office on Seville Road and he arranged for me to live there for about six months. I was coming by air, on the tail end of the 1969 New York winter, which brought the town to a halt. I took a cab over to see Martin at Personality Posters distribution. As I walked up the stairs, his wife saw me and said, "Martin, he is so skinny." So, she called the deli that I passed on way there. I said I would stay a while in NYC. He offered that I should design a Endless Winter Poster. He gave $2,400 and I stayed for two months and finished the poster. When I left, he bought me a first class seat on a jet back to LA.

In 1971, I was traveling in San Francisco on Columbus Street when I passed by a poster store called Postermat. In the window, I saw Martin there. I walked in and he explained that he had sold his new company and his stock from Personality Posters in New York to Rock poster dealer Ben Friedman, a North Beach fixture for more than 30 years, there the Endless Summer continued in the context of psychedelic posters.

The Endless Summer surf poster was created and has traveled through the years, changing everyone's perceptions the idea to surfing as a symbol. Who would ever know that my High School art education would continue into Art Center, then continue into graphic design in the surf industry, creating the moment. I used the education and taste to create a silkscreen poster that would effect a world of surfers, but that also impressed non-surfers worldwide, seen in different surf spots as a sign, as a message, as a symbol for surfing. All of the different manufacturers of the poster, the distributors, and the stores have made profits from the sales of the thousands of posters. It all has been going on for six decades.

Just one graphic design that has lived in the public mind for almost 50 years.

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