Martin Sharp, Oz Magazine, number 7, October 1967. Cover Illustration
This particular design by Martin Sharp was created in yellow and black on silver coated thick paper, almost identical to his most famous poster of the Sixties Blowing in the Mind apart from the large yellow Oz logo in the top right corner of the page. The poster perfectly captures the 60s psychedelic atmosphere, capturing London’s own style of music, words, colour, drugs and youth culture in a capturing mix of red, black and gold. It was one of the first Big O posters (if not the first) and was allocated the number BOP1 in the company sale catalogues and advertisements. The poster itself was meant to be printed purple and black on silver foil, but the printer decided to print it red and black on gold.
At the bottom of the poster, Sharp has the letters Mister Tamburine Man in bold yellow that purposely reads as Mist Ta Urine Man, which reflects Sharps sense of humour. By February 1968 the poster was so popular that the Big O advertisement in Oz magazine declared that it was to be reprinted. Unlike traditional stone lithography or the silkscreen process of which they can only be used on short runs before the image deteriorated, Oz magazine use photographically based offset lithography printing process that allowed them to have an endless production of the original artwork without the loss of quality.
In the Oz magazine cover, they made slight changes to Martin Sharps original piece. Instead of having the striking red colour in the poster, they made it black and white to make the Oz logo appear more dominant and also cut out the image of Bob Dylan singing into a microphone underneath his portraits chin. The size of the art was also change to better suit the format of the magazine cover and a darker contrast of yellow in the words MIST and URINE.
For the Oz Logo, Martin Sharp was heavily influenced by Leonardo Di Vinci’s well known knot that he developed on to be in the centre of the O. The designer also used this design for his original poster (as seen on the first copy) as a wave of the musicians hair along with the other circular shapes. The designer used a striking yellow to contrast with the dark black and grey background that continued his theme of psychedelic patterns and colours.
This design was created during the peak of the 60’s when music, art and freedom of speech were all intertwined. To this day, many people look to Sharps work when trying to capture the mood of that time and what it was like when living in it. A fellow artist that went on to work with Martin Sharp on Oz Magazine went on to say that his work is a ‘vision of psychedelia -clean and pure. Rather than that muddy, tie-dyed t-shirt mixed up liquid-slide look. Sharp had wit’. Despite this poster being popular, Sharps art were still not considered fine art productions at that time and were rather seen as cheap and short lived productions, a mere ‘decoration’. They were initially made to be viewed on a large scale outside until museums began to preserve original copies and display them once there was a market for them began to increase.
For this design, Sharp was not only inspired by the current happenings of the time but also the musician Bob Dylan’s own capturing music and extreme cool. With one song in particular, Sharp used Dylan’s famous Blowing In The Wind song as inspiration to his poster design, later being dedicated as Blowing In The Mind. Sharp was also heavily influenced by other works of art such as Lichtenstein’s ZAP! POW! And Pollock’s Blue Polls were he was inspired by their bright use of colours and patterns to portray what life was like at those times.
Overall, this piece displayed a time when words such as peace and love had a completely different meaning to people and completely captured a generation were change and possibilities were everywhere for every place and everyone. It was displayed in the Great Refusal Exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank, London in 2003 which was made to document post- war protest and counter- culture.
Martin Sharp was known to be ‘completely under the spell’ of artists such as Van Gogh, Rene Magritte, Max Ernst and Georgio de Chirico who were the modern masters of Surrealism, Expressionism and collage, not the ‘old fashioned’ Royal Academics.
You can see that Sharp was constantly influenced by his love of music throughout his life along with his deep appreciation with the history of art. He liked to have a mischievous side to his pieces as he liked to incorporate humour and an antiestablishment stance to his pieces that would often be on serious matters. During the sixties, the designer also experimented with the then fashionable hallucinogenic drugs which transformed his art in a way that documented another part of the raging 60s.