Rick Griffin

This piece is a cover for a collaboration album between Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead. The album was released February 6, 1989. I chose this mostly because I love Bob Dylan and my boyfriend loves the Grateful Dead so it’s basically a metaphor for our relationship. The image of Dylan with the red and blue background and the lightning bolt in his sunglasses is a nice synthesis of his face with the popular “Steal Your Face” Grateful Dead logo. The wings and train in the center may symbolize Bob Dylan’s folky, Americana style of music and Grateful Dead songs like “Casey Jones,” which is about a folk hero who died driving a train. Trains are a common theme in folk music and popular in the Beat crowd, who Dylan was inspired by. The Beat Generation’s ideals of spiritual and sexual freedom galvanized the hippie movement, along with numerous musicians, including the Grateful Dead. Some of the Grateful Dead’s songs are retellings of stories they heard from Neal Cassady, a central figure in the Beat generation. Psychedelic drugs are pretty much known to have influenced both Dylan’s and the Grateful Dead’s music, as well as much of the Beats’ poetry and writings. Griffin himself was reportedly a participant in Ken Kesey’s famous Acid Tests. Rick Griffin’s art was clearly part of the psychedelic movement, and that is exemplified by his use of bright, contrasting colors. The main colors used in this poster are red, blue and yellow, primary colors and often used in art about the Grateful Dead. The title lettering is in a serif font with decorative, disappearing stripes and an extruded plane to make it look 3D. These elements and the style of the typography come together to give it an old western feel. The extrusions in the stems of the capital Ds give them a slightly saloon-esque appearance. It was first beautifully drafted with pencil and felt pen on paper. There also seems to be a sun in the very back center behind the train, with rays or bars emanating out of it. Obviously, the skeleton with the rose crown is an iconic symbol of the Grateful Dead. The rose usually conveys remembrance and the transience of beauty. One poster version of this album was published in 1988 by CBS Records Inc. It may also have been used as a promotional poster for the album release, sent to record stores.