Kings of concert posters: Frank Kozik

First in a series on rock artists who shook up the modern-rock underground
By Peter Lindblad

Frank Kozik Unsane
Guzzard 1995 Concert
Poster The Whiskey
Hollywood S/N
Often shockingly bloody and unapologetically violent, the grisly album art for New York City noise-rock merchants Unsane was never for the faint of heart.

Seeing two cuddly bears, one carrying a bucket of PCP, on a concert poster promoting the band's 1995 show at the Whiskey in Hollywood with openers Guzzard and Lowercase in what looks like an otherwise innocent scene from an illustrated children's book certainly subverts expectations. Artist Frank Kozik is notorious for doing that.

Born in Spain and raised during the reign of fascist dictator Franco, before his family settled in California, Kozik has parlayed his delightfully twisted world view, fearless cultural commentary and incredibly bold use of color and clashing textural elements into worldwide fame. His works are highly sought-after by collectors.

Until Kozik arrived on the scene, the art of making concert posters had, for all intents and purposes, gone the way of the dodo bird. Many believe it was Kozik – his Unsane poster one of hundreds he's made over the years – who was responsible for bringing it back from the dead. (To view a really good selection of his works you can check out prints available for purchase on eBay: Frank Kozik Posters

Zeni Geva Original
Concert Poster by
Frank Kozik S/N
In his zeal to spread the word about the early '80s underground punk scene in Austin, Texas, where he was stationed while in the Air Force, the self-taught Kozik's first forays into the world of rock art involved making black-and-white fliers for friends' bands and splashing them all over telephone poles. Soon, people began taking notice of his provocative, in-your-face designs and unique treatment of , noting how the oddly compelling imagery made subtle and not-so-subtle cultural statements.

Eventually, Kozik moved on to developing the vivid and almost surreal silkscreen concert posters that gained him world-wide fame, creating artwork for the likes of Green Day, The White Stripes, Neil Young and Nirvana and lesser-known acts such as Hammerhead and others, and then going on to direct various music videos, including Soundgarden's "Pretty Noose."

Hammerhead Liquor Bike
1996 Original Concert Poster
by Frank Kozik X/N
After moving to San Francisco in 1993, Kozik established his own record label, Man's Ruin Records. Most of the posters and album art he produced back then were hand silkscreened and numbered at his studio. More than 200 singles and full-length albums were designed and released by Kozik – among them a Sex Pistols record and the first Queens of the Stone Age single.

In 2001, he shuttered Man's Ruin and moved on to other artistic pursuits, including throwing himself into the exploding art toy movement. He has designed more than 500 different limited-edition figures. Living in San Francisco today, Kozik also designs products and campaigns for a wide range of major companies. But, it's his wildly imaginative concert poster artwork – with pieces ranging in price from as little as $12 all the way up to $500 and beyond – that are his crowning achievements.

Here are some examples of his best work:

Groove Merchant 1997 Original
Silkscreen Gig Poster by
Frank Kozik 9737 S/N

Frank Kozik Man's Ruin Records
The Hammer of the Gods 1996
Concert Poster S/N

Butthole Surfers Pigface Bad Livers
1991 Original Concert Poster
by Frank Kozik 

Smashing Pumpkins Garbage 1996
Original Concert Poster by
Frank Kozik S/N

Soundgarden 1996 Mesa, Arizona Gig Poster
by Frank Kozik 9654 S/N

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