By Richard Markosian
One man’s rise from the copy center at Office Max to one of the more prominent names in music poster art in the West.
Editors Note: We have some corrections to the story that were incorrect in Utah Stories Magazine. Travis received an Assosiate’s Degree in Nanoscale chemistry not a Master’s Degree. And Travis worked at OfficeMax throughout going to college, not after he graduated.
Travis Bone’s suggestion for aspiring artists: “Drop out of school as soon as possible.” Although Travis has an Associates degree in nano-scale chemistry from UVU, he says from his internship he came to realize he couldn’t handle being required to sit in an office with nothing to do, then work like mad to meet deadlines when work came in.
Throughout college Travis wored at Office Max “I had access to programs like Photoshop and Illustrator.” Travis says he always liked to draw and in high school. He and his friends had big aspirations to start a company selling t-shirts with their original designs. “We found a video at the DI called ‘How to Paint Shirts for Fun and Profit.’ We had this grand idea that we were going to make a lot of money.” Travis said he gave up on art and his dreams because, “I figured there would never be a way to make a living.”
After realizing he would didn’t want be a nano-chemist Travis started doing side design work in 2004. Everything from websites to logos. Once he built up a small portfolio he started contacting bands asking them if he could design them a poster. “I sent a lot of e-mails to bands I like, bands that weren’t super well-known.” His first big break was designing a poster for a Mogwai Tour in the U.K and Europe. Travis was commissioned to design all of the merchandise for the show. This first big order was too large for him to fulfill it himself, so he hired a silk screening company to help him to complete the shirts and posters.
Fast-forward 7 years and many poster gigs later and Travis is commissioned to design posters for the Dave Mathew’s Band, The Swell Season, My Mining Jacket, Iron and Wine and last summer’s Twilight Concert Series.
Concert posters have become a very popular, accessible art for fans of local and national touring bands. Most sell for $25 to $30 and prices can skyrocket once quantities run out. “Some people come to buy the posters just so they can make some money on eBay.” Every night of tours, the bands will have a different poster designed by a different artist. Most posters are done using the old method of silk screen,” Travis says. “There is a lot of charm to silk screen, something about the feel.” Travis works in bold shapes and vibrant colors.
Many of his pieces appear as though they have been cut from the old school method of using a block of wood, using the negative shapes to define the objects rather than lines. But while Bone uses silk screens to produce his art, he has no problem adopting technology to fulfill his vision. Using a Wycom stylus and tablet connected to his Mac he says he often begins with a shape that he likes and subtracts negative space as he works. Working more with shapes than lines his artwork carries conviction of a theme reminiscent of old French Parisian art. Travis says this style is intentional and he loves old French poster art, but his influences are extremely varied.
Bone’s workspace is immaculate and his walls are filled with interesting poster art spanning many styles and genres. Near the fireplace are his banjo and a guitar. “I used to play a lot in high school and I still play a little now.” Bone’s long beard and small town Utah accent make him appear the quintessential traditional Western artist. Last summer Bone completed a design for Uinta’s Cockeyed Cooper beer. In the design a long red-bearded man is navigating a flood in a barrel. Bone gave no indication this was a self portrait.
Travis designed the cover for this issue of Utah Stories. Purchase prints of Travis’ work at www.travisbone.com
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