With the path cleared by Frank Kozik and Art Chantry, Aesthetic
Apparatus left Wisconsin and headed west to the design
hotbed of Minneapolis, fully formed and ready to “break your
heart and drink your blood,” as they threaten on their website.
Mixed in with their tight design chops is a self-deprecating
wit that can be seen in a large portion of their work. Ibarra
and Byzewski boast that their work has “secretly snuck into
the hearts and minds of a small rather silent group of socially
awkward music and design nerds.They have benefited
immensely from that great connector of music and design
nerds—the Internet—and note that our business functions as
it does because of the Internet. When we‘re not printing
posters or designing, we‘re packing up online poster orders,
keeping up with clients via email, or presenting work to
them, also via email. If there were no Internet we never
would‘ve existed like we do today, which is pretty funny
because we really don‘t understand how the Internet works.
Not quite ready to assume the mantle of leadership of the
new poster movement, Ibarra and Byzewski do, however, see
themselves as part of that movement. They add, in analyzing
the current crop, that “some people have said that we have
inspired folks in regard to the recent wave of design-focused
rock posters. Neither of us believes that we did anything new
or inventive in regard to our art or our studio or whatever, but
its always flattering to think that someone actually enjoys what
we’re doing.You won’t have to look far in this book or at a local
rock club to see that influence.
As for their own inspiration, they find joy in recounting the
amazing hand-printed runs of thousands of posters by Anthony
Velonis and the other artists of the Works Progress Administration
(WPA). They are one of the few firms to admit that they wear
their influences on their sleeves—or at least leave them
exposed on their posters. Artist-wise, our influences are pretty
easy to guess: Saul Bass, Jeff Kleinsmith [profiled on page
140], Art Chantry, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Raymond
Loewy, Paul Rand, Reid Miles, Charles S. Anderson, Tibor
Kalman, Yee-Haw Industries, The Bird Machine [Next Wave on
page 242], Seripop [profiled on page 154], and Ames Brothers.
Ibarra and Byzewski have an unusual angle on the process,
as they print all of their posters by hand. This can lead to interesting
results. “Probably the most annoying part of poster making is when
the printing goes horribly, horribly wrong. Or when all is said
and done and you’ve printed the poster and you step back to take
a look at the finished product and you just hate it. It’s heartbreaking.
That just happened to us the other day.
Getting their hands dirty and engaging in the entire process has led
Ibarra and Byzewski to challenge themselves to produce the most
creative solution not only in terms of design but also on press.
The inevitable hits and misses have turned into success after
raging success, although their remarks belie their learning process.
The blurring of lines between print and production extends
to those between designer and client. After working for local
clubs and building up a solid base of trust, Aesthetic Apparatus
makes all creative decisions themselves and sends the final
art to the club before going to press. They elaborate, “Honestly,
they have never asked for any changes or revisions or anything.
We don’t even know if they proofread these anymore. I don’t
even know if they look at them.
Certainly someone can’t keep their eyes off the posters, as they
have a pretty difficult time keeping them on the walls of the clubs
and their print runs sell out notoriously fast. If you see something
you like, you had better figure out that Internet thing real quick!
“If there were no Internet we never would’ve existed like we do today, which is
pretty funny because we really don’t understand how the Internet works.”
Text black
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Job no:93376 Title : RP-Master Of Poster Design Client : Pro-vision
Scn :
175 Size : 228.6(w)304.8(h)mm Co : M3 C0 O/P: All to spot
Dept : DTP D/O : 23.11.05 (Job no:000000 D/O : 00.00.01 Co: CM0)
Job no
Scn :
Dept :
Working side by side at Planet Propaganda, a top U.S. design firm, Dan Ibarra and Michael
Byzewski decided to form a haven for their interest in screen-printing. Originally conceived
as an outlet for fun and one-off side projects, they quickly became so successful that
making the choice to turn Aesthetic Apparatus into their full-time gig was a no-brainer.
Building their business around limited-edition screen-printed concert posters, they were
one of the first firms to benefit fully from the explosion of this market.
NMPD 1-65 M3.qxd 11/25/05 10:05 PM Page 6

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