Flatstock #53 will be held this month in Austin, TX at the annual South By Southwest music and arts festival. Flatstock is an event that has grown over the years to house some of the widest arrays of art via the gig poster. Although Flatstock events are held all across the globe, it can be argued that Flatstock within the SXSW walls is the most anticipated of these shows. This event continues to be lead by The American Poster Institute (API), a non-profit dedicated to the public awareness and appreciation of the poster art form. The API supports the artists involved in the entertainment-related poster art community by provoking collaborations amongst artists and improving the standards in the field. They have also organized the ongoing poster exhibition series Flatstock since 2002.
Busy Beaver was lucky enough to ask local Chicago artist and Flatstock alum, Ryan Duggan, a few questions about his upcoming adventure down to Austin for the convention. Duggan has run his own company Drug Factory Press since 2006, and has nicely established himself not only in the gig poster world, but has also created an extensive portfolio of editorial works for clients from Portland to Japan. He specializes in screen-printing, and Ryan’s illustrations can be found within the public art medium with murals all across the city as well.
BB: How many years have you been heading down to SXSW, and what are you excited for 2016’s festival?
Ryan: I’ve been attending the SXSW Flatstock since 2013. It’s always great to go out on the town after the poster show is done for the day. I feel like I end up seeing more Chicago bands play there than in Chicago. The showcases are still getting put together at the moment so I’m not sure who I’ll be checking out quite yet.
BB: How do you think Flatstock has changed over the years? Has there been a distinct shift in the poster’s you’re seeing and the types of people coming into Flatstock?
Ryan: The poster scene just keeps growing and growing. This upcoming Flatstock is #53! My first Flatstock was #21 in Chicago (2009). I don’t think there’s a distinct shift in the prints but over time you see people getting better and/or developing their distinct style.
BB: What was your most memorable customer from SXSW years past? Any interesting stories?
Ryan: The Flatstock during SXSW is the biggest one we have and over the three days you meet a LOT of people. I’ve definitely met musicians who I’ve ended up working for as well as collectors who still keep an eye on what I’m up to. It’s a great opportunity to get your work in front of people who might not be aware of you.
BB: What inspired this year’s button artwork, and any special intentions you have for these buttons and bottle openers?
Ryan: I have a handful of images I’ve been using for a while now and this eagle with a squeegee has graced a number of stickers, stamps, etc. Looking forward to having these on the table at SXSW—everybody could use a convenient bottle opener that weekend!
BB: Any exclusives attendees can expect from you for Flatstock 2016?
Each festival participating artists can make their own “Flatstock” print, commemorating the specific event. Not everyone does it (some years there’s just too much real work to handle beforehand) but I’m planning to make one this year. Other than that I’ll have a mix of concert posters and some art prints for people to check out!
If you’re in Austin next week for SXSW March 17-19, check out all of Ryan’s wares at the Drug Factory Press’ stand #340 in the Austin Convention Center. You can find Ryan’s exclusive Flatstock 53 print and pick yourself up a bottle opener and button too!