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Bob Masse is a Canadian artist from British Columbia, on Canada's west coast, who has been producing concert posters since the 1960s. While attending art school in Vancouver, British Columbia, he began his career doing posters for the folk acts that came through town, in exchange for free drinks, tickets, and the opportunity to meet the musicians. As folk became folk-rock, and Vancouver was visited by such bands as the Grateful Dead, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane and Steve Miller, Bob continued to produce memorable concert posters for these bands, and helped pioneer the emerging psychedelic art genre. He was greatly influenced by the art and music scenes in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where he spent considerable time in the late 1960s, producing posters and album covers for various bands of the day. His work from this time is highly sought by collectors. Bob's designs reflect his interest in the art nouveau movement and the work of Alphonse Mucha in particular. While he employs many of the techniques of that period, his brilliant colour palette, unique lettering style, and bold composition give his art a signature look. Bob continues to produce pieces for contemporary performers, such as, Tori Amos, the Smashing Pumpkins, Neil Young, and many more.
Canada's foremost rock poster artist, Bob Masse absorbed the influence of the psychedelic era to create eye-popping yet elegantly stylized art-nouveau designs distinguished by their fluid linework and intricate figures. A native of Burnaby, British Columbia, he began drawing as a child, regularly competing against his cousin to determine who could sketch the most images of Bugs Bunny; Mad magazine was also a profound influence, and he copied each new issue from start to finish. As a teen, Masse earned spending money during the holidays by creating cardboard Santas and decorating windows for his neighbours; he later painted pinstripes and flames on cars, even producing Big Daddy Roth-styled monster T-shirts for his school friends.
After graduation, Masse went on to attend art school in Vancouver; a fixture at local coffee-houses, he was eventually tapped to illustrate posters advertising upcoming folk music performances, among them a date by a then-unknown Bob Dylan (whose name Masse accidentally misspelled "Dylon"). With the rise of folk-rock, Vancouver played host to concerts from the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and the Steve Miller Band, with Masse contributing increasingly psychedelicized artwork for their appearances; in 1966, he travelled to San Francisco, with a revelatory journey to the Haight-Ashbury district as well as direct contact with the poster art of the Fillmore and the Family Dog exerting a profound influence on his own subsequent work.
Returning to Vancouver, Masse, now a Scientologist, befriended the local band the Collectors, and when they travelled to Los Angeles to make a record he followed, spending the final years of the 1960s living in the Laurel Canyon area and hanging out with Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & the Holding Company, and Taj Mahal. As 1969 drew to a close he went back to Vancouver, producing a series of posters for local venues including the Retinal Circus, Moose Valley Farms and Gassy Jack's; as the 1970s dawned, he turned to commercial work, illustrating for McDonalds, the Expo Space Station, CP Air and countless others. Masse additionally designed numerous business logos, among them a ubiquitous orange-furred fox for radio station C-FOX which is among his most long-lived and enduring creations.
During the 1980s, Masse's focus turned to Hollywood, as he created posters for smash films including Total Recall and Back to the Future Part III; he also worked on the television series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As rock concert art began to enjoy a surge in popularity during the following decade, however, Masse returned to the medium with renewed force, producing a steady stream of posters for the first time since the 1970s. Creating lush visuals which incorporated the psychedelic spirit of his previous work while at the same capturing the essence of his contemporary subjects, Masse produced memorably beautiful posters advertising appearances by latter-day stars including the Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tori Amos and Alanis Morissette.