The Woodstock Poster

The Woodstock Poster is one of the most famous posters of all time. It became the logo for the festival and of course became an image of the entire message that Woodstock represented.

The Woodstock Poster

The Woodstock Poster

One of the unique things about the Woodstock Poster is that all the bands had their names of equal size. Michael Lang, one of the original organizers and the one who was instrumental in maintaining the vision of the whole festival, wanted to have all the musicians be treated equally. The band listings are all in alphabetical order with no one getting “top billing,” at least on the poster itself. This was unheard of in its day and took some doing given the attitudes of most of the bands, managers, and agents. Still he managed to do it and this poster is a testament to his vision and ability to get the bands to share that vision.

The Woodstock Poster was designed by Arnold Skolnick. Arnold was a graphic designer in New York and was hired by John Morris who was the festival’s production coordinator and had worked for Bill Graham at The Filmore East.

When the location for the festival was changed from Wallkill to Bethel New York, the organizers needed to come up with a new poster and logo and promotional materials quickly. Morris called Skolnik on Thursday and asked him to come up with something by Monday.

Here’s how Arnold described how he came up with the idea for the Woodstock Poster…

“I sat around all weekend to try and figure out how to do this thing. That summer I;d been staying in a place at the end of Long Island, Shelter Island… and there were these catbirds—I’d been out there drawing and sketching this bird about the place—and that Monday morning I sat down, and I took a razor blade, and I cut all these shapes out. I cut out all the pieces, and I put it on blue, because blue is for peace, and I sat there all morning from seven, eight, nine, ten—it comes to eleven o’clock, and something is wrong.

I had my own set of rules about design—you only have to say something once, you don’t have to say it twice, and the bird already said “peace.” So I ran to the store and bought this read paper. I put all the pieces out on the red paper, and it just said it, that was it.”

Actually the original idea came from Michael Lang. He never liked the original poster for the Wallkill site. He thought it was too Art Nouveau. He always wanted a dove on a guitar to represent “3 days of peace and music.”

Actually the annual Woodstock art festival, which had been going on since 1957, had featured a dove in it’s marketing. At any rate the poster has come to symbolize not only the Woodstock Festival but also a time and a generation. I have a poster myself that I’ve hung in my home. It there to remind me of a special weekend in my life.

If you’d like to get one, there are several ways to get replicas of the original poster. AllPosters.com has a great selection. Woodstock


Woodstock Giclee Print
Buy at AllPosters.com

You can find a large selection of Woodstock Posters on this page too.