Emek

buddha

Emek (b. 1970) is a popular graphic designer and concert poster designer since the early 1990s. He is widely credited with helping to revive the rock poster scene. He is the brother of artist and author Gan Golan. His style, known for its attention to detail and layers of meaning, infuses socio-political commentary into pop culture imagery.

In the tradition of psychedelic posters from the 1960s, Emek still draws his posters by hand. He was shaped by both rock art posters from the 1960s, and punk flyers from the 1980s. Emek’s poster-making career accelerated in the 1990s with alternative rock acts from Europe and North America, including Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age, Tool, and Marilyn Manson.

Also a fine art painter, Emek lives in Portland, Oregon, and comes from a family of five artists in California. He was born in Israel while his artist parents lived on a kibbutz. In the states, his family, including Emek’s younger brother and sister, lived in the Los Angeles area. His father worked as a caretaker. There was no TV at the home, just a radio and a well-equipped art studio. His parents also stayed active in political causes ranging from social justice and the peace movement to environmentalism.

His first commissioned rock poster was for a political benefit after the 1992 Los Angeles riots. The image—a scratchboard visage of Martin Luther King Jr. rising above a concert crowd—was stapled to the city’s burnt-out buildings. Emek incorporates traditional styles, from Russian constructivism to Asian woodblock. But he is also known for melding the mechanical with the organic, part of a statement on technology, consumerism and conservation.

The poster promoting a show for Ween and the Flaming Lips, for example, shows a robot riding a robot horse, a green plant in his pouch, bowing his head in the middle of a barren field of tree stumps. ‘At the end of the trail, tired old robots are the only ones left to mourn mankind’s destruction of the planet,’ Emek explained in ‘The Oregonian’ profile. Punk rocker and poet Henry Rollins dubbed Emek ‘the thinking man’s poster artist.’ Showing a cunning, wry sense of humor often found in his art, Emek has described his own work as ‘aaarght.’

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