Saturday, 14 June 2008


It's official...

June/July 2008

FIREHOUSE KUSTOM ROCKART COMPANY - the prolific rock poster
creators (Chuck Sperry and Ron Donovan) from San Francisco,
California - will be blazing through the UK during the month of
June for an incendiary rock art poster tour. The UK has been
experiencing an explosion of rock poster art hitting the streets
from screen printing studios that seem to be springing up in all
sorts of various garages, warehouses and basements. England is
currently witnessing a new pedigree of artist -- clearly there
is something cool happening.

"I came to England, explains Chuck Sperry, in May of 2006 to
teach a workshop at the Brighton Fringe Festival. My British
students were so talented and excited about making rock posters,
that it really fired me up, and made me want to come to England
to see all the great art and music that's going on here. That's
when we began planning this tour."

We are extremely pleased and excited to be returning to England
to soak up this exciting, creative environment and embark on our
first UK rock art poster tour! It is our hope to be able to
share our silkscreen artistry while (naturally) hoisting a few
with the new breed of English rock poster artists -- and of
course catching a gig or two.

"During the summer (of 2007), four members of the British Rock
Artist Group (BRAG) were invited by Chuck Sperry and Ron
Donovan, the globally renowned American poster artists, to
undertake a two week workshop at their studio, the Firehouse
Kustom Rock Art Company. Rhys Wootton, Jamie McGregor, Matt
Douthwaite and Adrian Day jumped on a plane to San Francisco
and, as Wootton reports, were to learn much about the traditions
and history of a classic US artform: the screenprinted music

Below is an NBC-TV news clip about BRAG's San Francisco experience:

"Sperry is really the catalyst behind BRAG writes BRAG’s Rhys
Wootton. In May 2006 together with Mike King they taught two
separate master classes in conjunction with the SubScreen Sonic
exhibition that showcased a vast array of screen printed gig
posters (organised by BFAP). The aim of the workshops was to
enlighten the participants in the art of silkscreen printing and
the poster industry. We all got fired up and so inspired that we
decided to form a collective that would start making waves in
the British scene. It seemed natural to act on the energy and
buzz created from the workshop."

Taken from an article in Creative Review (UK):

The Firehouse has received an enormous amount of positive
response from the UK thus far and it would please us greatly if
you would join us and be a part of exposing other artists and
music fans alike to this unique and rare art form.

We will be exhibiting in the following cities:

London (June 11-13)
Manchester (June 14-15)
Sheffield (June 17-18)*
Birmingham (June 19-20)#
Brighton (June 21-22)*
London (June 23-25)
Bristol (July 3-4)

* = workshop/silk screening discussion



Sperry's career as an illustrator began circa 1985 amid the
squats on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, NYC. It was there he
and fellow squatters Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper worked on the
biting political comic World War 3 Illustrated. These
malcontents tackled topics and issues that haunted the squatters
on the Lower East Side (mainly gentrification), at a time and
place that served as a diarama representing the struggle between
classes world-wide.

After moving to San Francisco in 1988, Chuck's experience as an
illustrator, combined with his political fervor, drove him even
deeper into the art of "creative disobedience". While in San
Francisco, he has been awarded two grants, one from the NEA and
Pew Charitable Trust to subsidize a series of shows at the ATA
Gallery, titled "Who's the Landlord?," which also included a
retrospective on WW3. The other grant was from San Francisco's
Haas Foundation for a mural which he painted at the Labor Temple
commemorating the legendary leader of the Longshoreman's Union,
Harry Bridges, the Labor Council of San Francisco and the 1934
general strike which forever changed the course of labor
relations in this U.S.

Over the past ten years, Chuck has contributed stories to Last
Gasp Comics & Stories, and was the art director for Filth
Magazine (circulation 10,000).

In 2002 Chuck created a controversial album design for Jello
Biafra's Spoken Word Album #7, entitled Machine Gun in the
Clown's Hand released on Alternative Tentacles in 2002. And in
2004 Sperry's art graces the cover of the Detroit Cobras' hit
single "Cha Cha Twist."

And currently his beautiful Joe Strummer tribute poster has been
adapted for the cover of the official Joe Strummer biography -
"Redemption Song" by Chris Salewicz released by HarperCollins in
May 2005.

Also look for his killer sticker designs for Poster Pop at



Donovan's first footprint on the art world also came in 1985,
when he co-founded We Are Not Gentlemen (WANG), a cadre of
infamous art saboteurs, headquartered at the California College
of Arts and Crafts. They staged their first poster show in the
campus men's bathroom, when in a covert operation, WANG members
screened full color prints directly onto the bathroom walls. At
a lunch time opening, art students and faculty were invited to
mingle and admire the prints (much like a normal art opening?)
except that the sinks were used for beer coolers and the trash
bins for chips'n'dip.

Ron and his fellow WANGsters also screened a popular poster and
T-shirt collection called Reaganwear, which boasted such slogans
as, "I Can't Remember," "I'm Not a President (But I Play One on
TV)," "CIA Vacation" and the ever-popular "More Arms, More
Hostages." The collection was available at Pipe Dreams on
Haight, the Reprint Mint on Telegraph as well as direct through
WANG during their frequent class-ditching excursions to Sproul

Prior to co-founding the Psychic Sparkplug in late 1994, Ron had
become known endearingly as the "Duke of Haight Street", where
he'd set up office at Copy Central, tirelessly knocking out 8
1/2 x 11 flyer copy for the venues "Kennel Club" and "I Beam" as
well as for many local bands. He also designed a much sought
after collection of over 60 posters for San Francisco surf music
legends, "The Mermen" as well as covers and layouts for two of
their CDs.

Ron is currently working on an awesome album design for
Turbonegro's next rock release entitled, "Small Feces" due in
stores any minute. Considering that Turbonegro's last two
records were created by Frank Kozik and Klaus Voorman (famed for
his Beatles Revolver album design) - and you can understand how
respected Ron Donovan's work is.



"Firehouse, based in San Francisco, is a supremely renegade
printshop, a partnership of two master screen printers, Chuck
Sperry and Ron Donovan. Sperry is a hot-button cartoonist from
the political 'zine and post-Zap Comix tradition, while Donovan
does wheelies on their computer."
- King and Grushkin, The Art of Modern Rock

After nine years of prolific poster creation - The Firehouse has
finally released their rock poster art for the world to see in a
beautifully illustrated 96 page book published by Last Gasp of
San Francisco - "Eyesore: Recent Litter From The Firehouse
Kustom Rockart Company."

This impressive book is introduced by New York art critic and
Juxtapoz associate editor Carlo McCormick (in addition to
introductions in French, German and Italian) and has an
extensive interview by V. Vale, publisher of Search and Destroy
and RE/Search magazines.

Add this monograph to the growing shelf of books adorned with
Firehouse posters and you can see that these boys have been
busy. Among these titles are:

- The Art of Modern Rock (Chronicle Books)
- Electric Frankenstein - High: Energy Punk Rock & Roll Poster
Art (Dark Horse)
- Peace Signs - The Anti-War Movement Illustrated (Edition Olms)
- Tiki Art Now! (Last Gasp)

Fine craftsmen of subversive propaganda, Ron Donovan and Chuck
Sperry have stuffed their rock art portfolios with many of the
biggest names in rock and roll. And they have worked for many of
the biggest clients in the entertainment industry. Sperry and
Donovan have created a much sought-after series of posters for
Virgin Megastore (including Pearl Jam, Fleetwood Mac, Rolling
Stones, The Beatles, Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys, U2, and Hole).

They have also created over 25 posters for San Francisco's own
Mexican wrestling xxx-travaganza, "Incredibly Strange
Wrestling," which was recruited for the Vans Warped Tour 2001.

Other posters have been produced for such legendary performing
artists as Queens of the Stone Age, Dirtbombs, Eric Clapton,
Madness, Jane's Addiction, Supersuckers, Garbage, Bad Religion,
Johnny Cash, John Lee Hooker, Lee Perry, Cheap Trick, X, among
many others. In 1999 they created a magnificent four piece
circle poster for the Tibetan Freedom Concert, and even the
Tibetan monks could be counted as their fans.

Ron and Chuck's works are easily recognizable by their unique
style of color theory, characterized by the use of metallics
over striking colors. Their unique printing technique has won
them the attention of the experts in the printing profession and
they were included in Print's Regional Design Annual 2002.

Poster giants Victor Moscoso, Gary Grimshaw, Stanley Mouse and
Alton Kelley have all colaborated on poster projects printed by
Firehouse - in addition they have colaborated with well-known
peers Frank Kozik and Alan Forbes.