Back to All Events

Bob Masse | Rock Posters | The Evolution of Design

Canada's foremost rock poster artist Bob Masse absorbed the influence of the psychedelic era to create eye-popping yet elegantly stylized art-nouveau designs distinguished by their fluid linework and intricate figures. A native of Burnaby B.C. Bob Masse began drawing as a child, regularly competing with his cousin to determine who could sketch the most images for Bugs Bunny; Mad Magazine was also a profound influence and Masse copied each new issue from start to finish. As a teen Masse earned spending money during the holidays by creating cardboard Santas and decorating windows for his neighbors; he later painted pinstripes and flames on cars and even produced Big Daddy Roth-styled monster t-shirts for his school friends. 

After graduation, Masse went on to attend art school in Vancouver. A fixture at local coffeehouses, he was eventually tapped to illustrate posters advertising upcoming folk music performances among them a date by a then unknown artist, Bob Dylan (whose name Masse accidentally misspelled "Dylon"). With the rise of folk-rock, Vancouver played host to concerts from the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane and the Steve Miller Band with Masse contributing increasingly psychedelicized artwork for their appearances. In 1966 he travelled to San Francisco and a revelatory journey to the Haight-Ashbury district brought Masse into direct contact with the poster art of the Fillmore Ballroom and the Family Dog which profoundly influenced his later work.

Returning to Vancouver, Masse befriended the local band The Collectors and travelled with them to Los Angeles spending the final years of the 1960's living in the Laurel Canyon area and hanging out with the Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & the Holding Company and Taj Mahal. As 1969 drew to a close, he returned to Vancouver producing a series of poster for local venues including the Retinal Circus, Moose Valley Farms and Gassy Jack's, and as the times changed, he subsequently turned to commercial work illustrating for McDonald's, the Expo Space Station, CP Air and countless others. Masse additionally designed numerous business logos among them the ubiquitous orange-furred fox for radio station C-FOX which is among his most enduring creations. 

During the 1980's, Masse's focus turned to Hollywood and he created posters for smash films including Total Recall and Back to the Future III; he also worked on the television series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As rock concert art began to enjoy a surge in popularity during the following decade, Masse returned to the medium with renewed force producing a steady stream of posters for the first time since the 1970's. Creating lush visuals which incorporated the psychedelic spirit of his previous work while at the same capturing the essence of his contemporary subjects, Masse produced memorably beautiful posters advertising appearances by such notables as the Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tori Amos and Alanis Morissette.

This exhibition features a selection of Bob Masse's poster designs and breaks them down to illustrate how they were constructed, providing rare insight into the artist's creative process. Bod Masse continues to work creating posters for a wide range of clients looking for a unique and memorable image. He lives and works out of his studio located on Saltspring Island. For further information and additional images, please check out his website at: