The Posters of the Grateful Dead Archive

Lee Conklin and the Second Wave of San Francisco Poster Artists

As the psychedelic poster style spread, it also attracted newcomers to the San Francisco scene. Lee Conklin (1941– ) added a deeper twist on psychedelic lettering and imagery with his busy, intricate, and detailed pen lines. His first poster for Graham introduced his trademark dense lettering and clever visual puns; it appeared in black and white, but Conklin quickly learned to create images that took advantage of color. Conklin’s exposition of psychedelia added an ornate, Dada-inflected vision to the San Francisco poster scene that rewarded hours of viewing with subtle and surprising visual epiphanies: toes that contain faces, breasts that turn into feet, lettering that swirls in and out of animal forms. To Conklin, the boundaries between forms could blur just as the limits of ego could dissolve under psychedelics.

Lee Conklin, BG 162, “Grateful Dead, Pentangle, The Sir Douglas Quintet, Brotherhood of Light, February 27, 1969 - March 2, 1969.”

Lee Conklin, “Bill Graham Presents in San Francisco - Chuck Berry, Steve Miller Band, Kensington Market, September 5-7 [1968].”