Boulder Artist The Poster Child
For Concert Playbills

by John Moore, Denver Post Staff Writer

Jefferson Holland's problem was that one of his favorite bands, Swervedriver, was coming to Boulder in 1993, but he couldn't swing the price of a ticket. His solution was as smooth as silkscreen.

Being something of an artist, Holland pitched an idea to Boulder's Fox Theatre: He would produce a silkscreen poster for the show in exchange for the price of admission. Former Fox representative Ambrosia Healy was quick to accept.

Some deal. Swervedriver would have cost him three bucks to get in the door.

Today, Holland's original artwork could fetch $400 or more on the open market, outgoing Fox general manager Bill Bennett said.

After eight years and 400 original posters, Holland has become one of the best-known unknown artists in the area. He is compared to Stanley Mouse, who was known as the man who drew the face of rock 'n' roll in the 1960s, when he introduced psychedelic rock posters for the Grateful Dead.

There are concert posters - the kind that litter telephone poles everywhere with
Magic Marker lettering and photocopied band pictures - and there are Holland's limited-edition concert prints, which often turn passers-by into art thieves.

"When you see a Jeff Holland poster, whether you know him or not, you know it's a Jeff Holland poster," said Bennett. "You recognize the quality and effort that went into making the poster, and it elevates your thoughts on how good the band might be."

Holland's portfolio spans the cool Scottish-English noise outfit Mogwai to surf guitar legend Dick Dale to current indie rock faves Guided By Voices, Southern Culture on the Skids and Bonnie Prince Billy. At a recent Dale concert, every poster was torn down from the Bluebird's walls by the end of the third song. His work is mounted on the walls of the Fillmore Auditorium.

Last year he produced the art for University of Colorado-Boulder radio station 1190 AM's popular "Local Shakedown" double-CD. It depicts a man waving
a flag.

"It's based on a Russian constructivist I saw in a photo of an old Russian paper," he said. "He was a member of the Youth Party of the Independent Revolution, and the radio station's slogan is "The AM Revolution.'"

Bennett's favorite is one of funkmaster George Clinton. It is framed in his office. "Clinton played here for three nights in 1994," Bennett said. "It has block lettering on top with an "Uncle Sam Wants You' image below, but George's face is in Uncle Sam's place, and he's saying, "Uncle Jam Wants You.' I remember when that poster came out, you couldn't keep them up because they were coming down so fast."

These days Holland makes about $100 for each design above printing 
costs, which usually run the promoter about $200. But he isn't in it 
for the money.

"In the art world, it's hard to get into galleries, and I think I beat the system
a little bit because I've got a street gallery," said Holland, 44. "It's immediate. ... I don't have a huge ego, but it does me good knowing the stuff is worth ripping down from the kiosk. That's the reward of doing this."

The money comes from his day job as a senior Geographic Information 
Systems Specialist in the city of Boulder's Open Space department, 
where he develops trail maps and computer data for the preservation of 
the area.

The posters aren't Holland's only involvement in the Boulder music scene.
He formed a rural electronic band called Multicast in 1995.

"We're trying to take the tools of the techno scene and use them in more
of a melodic, artsy way," said Holland, who plays a five-string mandolin.
He's also a deejay at Radio 1190, where he hosts a show called "Route 78 West" Sundays from 5-7 p.m. It features alt-country, Appalachian, honky tonk, western and surf music.

"We're definitely the only show that will play Dan Fogelberg on this station," said Holland, who owns 600 old 78s.

Holland's silkscreened works are done by hand, in color, with limited runs of 70-100. Those are his special-event works. Larger runs of 300-400 that end up on kiosks are reproduced on an offset printer.

He usually begins each project by playing around with a drawing on his computer. "My goal graphically is to keep in mind that people go to shows
for a lot of reasons," he said. "You try to give them clues as to why they
might want to see a show based on how it's represented. It's a chance for
me to say, "Hey, check this band out."

And it works, Bennett said. "Even with the Internet (as a new promotional tool), there are still plenty of shows that depend on posters," he said. "For certain shows, the poster is the most important promotional tool we have. A good poster goes a long way in showing people this is a band worth seeing. It can make the difference in them coming or not."

PHOTOS: It's estimated that Holland's original artwork could fetch $400
or more on the open market. Holland's Flaming Lips poster depicts a man peering into a crystal ball. Among Holland's 400 original designs is art for the CU-Boulder radio station 1190 AM's "Local Shakedown' double-CD. He's also done work for Bonnie Prince Billy, above right, and String Cheese Incident, right.