When it comes to creating an aesthetically pleasing image, Glendale artist Jeff Lawson is a pro. For more than 30 years, Lawson and his firm, Jeff Lawson Design, have created images and branding materials for commercial giants like American Honda, Yamaha Electronics and the Los Angeles Kings.
But only recently has Lawson begun to spread his wings as a creative artist. His work, a series of striking, digitally created posters mixed with digitized photos and paintings, now hangs in Penelope’s Café Books & Gallery in La Cañada and will remain there throughout August.
“When you put your heart and soul into something, and you like it, it’s always hard to put yourself out there,” Lawson said of his foray into art. “But at some point, you have to say, ‘I’m going to do what I feel I must do.’”
The posters were created in the style of giclée — from the French word “gicleur,” or nozzle, referring to the intricate, high-resolution ink-jet printer that produces the image onto a high-grade cotton paper or canvas. The pieces are all original creations, and the quality of the materials ensures an archival life span of at least 100 years.
Lawson’s love of poster art, in particular, grew while he was a student at Colorado State University in the ‘70s, studying under renowned poster designers John Sorbie and Phillip Risbeck. The graphic design department hosted the biennial Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition, which drew entries from around the world.
Despite ubiquitous poster images, such as Rosy the Riveter and Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign poster, Lawson says the art world is slow to recognize the artistic value of poster art and especially giclée pieces.
“Graphics and posters are something that’s kind of different and new and still relatively untested in the art world,” he adds. “There are those critics who say that’s not art. I beg to differ.”
Art connoisseur Lawrence Moss, who owns the café with wife Penelope, agrees with Lawson. A student of Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, he knows good work when he sees it. Moss finds Lawson’s art reminiscent of historic poster images, including those created by famed French painter Henri de Toulouse –Lautrec.
“It’s nice to see something refreshing, something new, something that hasn’t been done in a long time,” Moss said of the exhibit. “Poster art is sort of a lost profession. Some people say it’s too commercial, but that’s a bunch of baloney.”
IF YOU GO
What: The poster art of Jeff Lawson
Where: Penelope’s Café & Bookstore, 1029 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada. Phone (818) 790-4386
When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, until the end of August.