Siobhan Schmidt – Creative Synethesia – 1960s Psychedelic Art

Victor Moscoso, Miller Blues Band Poster. 1967
Victor Moscoso, Miller Blues Band Poster. 1967

In the 1960s, the psychedelic art, especially psychedelic poster art took off in counter culture movement groups. Its style was heavily influenced by the effects of hallucinatory drugs, featuring bold swooping shapes, curvilinear lines and type and vibrating colours. Psychedelic poster designers were in close communication with many musicians of this time and are responsible for the majority of their album covers and concert posters, which leads us to the sound of this era.

When listening to music from this time, it is easy to hear the correlation between many of the artists stylistic choices and the imagery of their posters. The extended guitar solos, complex riffs and experimentations with noise all evoke the same overwhelming hallucinatory feeling that the Psychedelic posters have as well.

A key feature of the Psychedelic posters is their vibrating colours. This was achieved by choosing two colours directly across from each other on the colour wheel and using them with an equal value¬†and intensity in the design. The colours then bounce off of each other and make the image appear like it is vibrating. This vibrating effect is clearly heard in Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child”. Right from the first riff you can hear how the final chord vibrates into the beginning of the pattern. As the song continues and more elements are added, the effects of these vibrations are exaggerated, creating an overwhelming soundscape that draws the listener in and leaves them in a trance like state.

Listening to the song with closed eyes enhances these effects even more, allowing the brain to focus on the music and the sounds to control the other senses. With your eyes closed, you will be able to see waves of colour moving across your eyelids, following the sound waves of Hendrix’s guitar. Just like how if you were to stare at a psychedelic poster for a few minutes and then close your eyes, the colours of the image would still linger in your mind.

When listening to songs like “Voodoo Child” it is practically impossible to not envision the posters accompanying them, which just goes to show how much the images sound like the songs.