Pop Art

Most Kansas Citians haven’t seen amazing rock-show posters for concerts they actually attended. Recycled Sounds’ walls showcase some of these vibrant creations, most of which include the names of faraway venues in their elaborate designs. Locally, concert promotion usually entails newspaper ads and billboards, bombastic radio spots and boring black letters on a blank marquee. Yawn.

Fortunately for art-starved music fans, a new exhibit addresses this void. The Montreal-based duo Seripop conjures dazzling designs for touring acts, and this fall Chloe Lum and Yannick Desranleau have decided to mimic their clients by taking to the road. They will have 100 pieces in tow —about half of Seripop’s total output since its inception in 2002.

“It’s a really hard creative process, because we collaborate on everything,” Desranleau says. “We pass a piece of paper back and forth, adding to it each time. It’s a big melting pot that Chloe and I cook together, and the ideas spurt out of there.”

The work draws its power from brilliant colors and striking patterns. For the punk-disco band Glass Candy, Lum and Desranleau chiseled a diamond prism that radiates spring-sky blue, lip-gloss lavender and grungy green. Recurring motifs include phallic fingers, overlapping circles and artfully arranged letters escaping gaping mouths or steaming blowholes. The pieces have a strong sense of texture; some have a furry feel, and others all but bleed chlorophyll from their leaves.

Seripop also crafted 16 striking images for the Providence, Rhode Island, noise bands Chinese Stars and Daughters, one poster for every date of their tour. The treatments are vastly different — text-only one night, sexually charged illustration the next — but they all share the sense that they’re derived from the same inspiration.

Lum and Desranleau work only with bands they respect, usually noise-rock or no-wave groups, ensuring that real passion informs Seripop’s posters. Although the duo sought out Chinese Stars and Daughters, Seripop usually is the one accepting invitations or, when necessary, delivering the rejections. However, it always directs spurned suitors toward more appropriate artist-to-music matches, using Gigposter.com as a guide.

“We always try to represent the music as much as we can without going outside the aesthetic we already work with,” Desranleau says. “When people hire us, they know we need full artistic freedom. Normally, they’re pleased.”

Among the satisfied customers is Slayer, who contacted Seripop for help in conjuring up the right mood for its Montreal performance. The poster depicts a nightmare-baiting, skull-topped, serpentine creature surrounded by a swirl of red, with an art-damaged version of Slayer’s lightning-letter logo running across its limbless frame.

“We feel like they’ve always been represented in the wrong way,” Desranleau says. “They’re a very experimental band in terms of music composition. We went for a scary, psychotic, speed-freak ambience, and I think it works.”

Like most of its clients, Seripop’s tour ranges from midsized venues (drawing 800 people at an exhibit in Minneapolis) to intimate basement shows, where its gallery-caliber wares hang on dank, dingy walls.

“But even in the places that aren’t as nice,” Desranleau says, “we always get a warm welcome.”