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  • Writer's pictureJay Abel


Updated: Apr 24


There was a time when visual art mattered and hands and brains were project requirements. That time was not so long ago.  

In 1966 a few California Hippies were sick of social and political hypocrisy from a self-righteous, John Wayne / Bing Crosby America, and they didn’t want anything to do with it. They had no interest in its rigid political and social dogma and even less interest in fighting a jungle war on the other side of the world to defend it.  Hippies demanded absolute personal autonomy, (even though such a thing is impossible as it may be desirable) so they idealized utopian revolutionary politics, sexual and social anarchy, rock music, recreational dope, the job lot. 


Mom and Dad howled in outrage. 

Hippies were hugely amused by watching them freak-out at the sight of a burning draft card, and lit up another.


A Freek Brothers poster by Gilbert Shelton, extolling the virtues of dope and defiance,  was pinned up in one of my high school journalism classes. The vice-principal tore it off the wall.


We were thrilled.

Art was dangerous again. 

Underground poster art made all of our bratty daydreaming look sexy and exotic, like it came from some ultra-cool, high-octane spirit world, that incidentally promoted rock music and LSD. It flew over war and trash and corruption and into the eye of god. Nothing like it had ever been seen before.

The previous generation of graphic art had been defined by Norman Rockwell.

For mom and dad, hippie graphics were just incomprehensible visual noise. To hippies they were the new language of freedom and defiance, instantly understood without explanation. They did what at least some good art is supposed to do, kick complacent sensibilities in the ass  


No more. A tsunami of worthless AI generated anti-content defines a 21st century anti-culture. It's a ruptured sewer pipe full of nauseating, robot-inspired drivel, it now defines the media landscape and there is vastly more to come, with no end in sight. The backward notion that visual art may aspire to anything  better than sugar candy, vacuous realism, 14th generation pop bromides, or generic baby cartoons sprung from the heads of talent-free digital fools, is dead.

There are few mourners. 

Nobody can even cogently defend AI as a viable media, with anything other than vapid promotional pep-cheers. That would require wit and critical thinking from people who never had any, and who require a writing app to generate a six word headline.   

Well, the future belongs to them. I won’t pretend otherwise and there’s  nothing I can  do about it anyway. It will be a world defined by robots and cynically exploited by billionaires.

Those who made it can have it.  

At least a grouchy old-fart, such as myself, may still choose his own visual anarchy.  

“We’d all love to change your head

But when you tell me it's the institution-

You better free your mind instead” 

And so for those few remaining guerrilla soldiers who resonate to my distant drummer, here it is, as it would have been, back in the day. In this book I make believe that an art of freedom and revolution, generated by hand, is still worthwhile. The mostly imaginary rock bands these graphic oddments promote are only metaphors for doing as I please and an excuse for an art lives to defy CG algorithms. 

I may yet dream of holding forth in the old Fillmore auditorium head-shop with the likes of “Mouse” Kelly, Rick Griffen and Bob Crumb, talking revolution and selling world-changing graphics (or so one thinks after two caps of baby J)  for a buck each.  Alas, I was still in the 6th grade, chewing obsessively on a number 2 pencil.

The brown acid was later. Long story....

There is an old hippie proverb that goes like this ”Create the situation you describe”. 

Well, that situation, indeed that world,  can no longer be created by any means, either by effort or by alchemy. That world is done forever. But I can still make graphic art for any damn world I like.  

To that end, this book is dedicated.

80 pages - full color - Premium stock - 23 bucks plus ship

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