David Edward Byrd

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David Edward Byrd
David Edward Byrd in 2005
(by Don Saban)
Born (1941-04-04) 4 April 1941 (age 77)
Cleveland, Tennessee
Nationality American
Education Carnegie Mellon University
Known for Graphic design
Poster art
Notable work see gallery
Movement Post-Modern Decorative Arts
Awards Grammy Award

David Edward Byrd (born April 4, 1941) is an American graphic artist, designer, illustrator and painter.

Personal life[edit]

David Byrd was born April 4, 1941, in what is now Cleveland, Tennessee,[1] and was raised in Miami Beach, Florida. David has lived in the Los Angeles area since the 1980s. In 1985 David began Byrd/Beserra Studios, with his partner Jolino Beserra.[2]


He graduated from Miami Beach High School in 1959, attended the Boston Museum School for a year and then Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he received a BFA in Painting and Design in 1964 and an MFA in Painting and Printmaking in 1966.


David Edward Byrd in front of the poster he created for Forest Lawn in 2005.

After graduating, David moved to New York City where in early 1968, work was started for Bill Graham for venues in the new Fillmore East Ballroom in Manhattan's East Village. David was reputedly hired on the spot after showing his portfolio to Bill Graham[3] and signed on as the exclusive poster and program designer, beginning with a poster for the upcoming Traffic event. In the period 1968 to 1973, he and Fantasy Unlimited created posters for Jimi Hendrix, Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane, Ravi Shankar, Traffic, and Bill Graham favorite the Grateful Dead.

In 1969 David created the original poster for the legendary Woodstock Festival[4] (not to be confused with the artwork by Arnold Skolnick).

He also did work for Broadway. Posters were designed for Stephen Sondheim's Follies, Godspell, The Robber Bridegroom and The Grand Tour. He has also made posters for The Survival of St. Joan, Jesus Christ Superstar, Little Shop of Horrors, and other musicals. David worked with The Who and their rock opera Tommy (not to be confused with the work by Michael McInnerney). From 1970 to 1979 David also taught at the Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts.

In 1981 David came to Los Angeles to work on the Van Halen World Tour. After that he did more poster creations in and around Los Angeles for, among others, The Mark Taper Forum, The Ahmanson Theatre, The Doolittle Theatre (in Hollywood, CA), The Pasadena Playhouse.

From 1984 to 1986 he was Art Director of the national gay news magazine The Advocate, in the time it changed from a tabloid newspaper to a standard national magazine format. David has been a regular contributor of covers for TV Guide Magazine.

From 1991 to 2002, David was Senior Illustrator at Warner Brothers Creative Services, creating illustrations, backgrounds and style guides for all the Looney Tunes and Hanna–Barbera characters. His other tasks included working on a variety of important projects, including creating, along with Creative Director Ed Wleczyk and his fellow artists at WBCP, the initial look and master styleguide for the Harry Potter franchise, working with writer J. K. Rowling on the first three books to make a visual cornerstone for the Harry Potter films that were to follow.

In addition to the work mentioned, David Edward Byrd has also worked for the Chicago International Film Festival, the Franklin Mint, Walt Disney Imagineering and many others.



Byrd lives in Los Angeles with his partner of 28 years, Jolino Beserra, a noted Mosaic Artist.[5]

Accolades and awards[edit]

In 1973, he, along with several other prominent illustrators, received a Grammy Award for the album design and packaging of Tommy (by The Who).

In 2007 the Ringling College of Art and Design put on an exhibition in their Selby Gallery, one of the galleries was dedicated to a retrospective of the work of David Edward Byrd.[6] The poster for the exhibition was designed by David himself.

On Thursday, April 16, 2009, David delivered a keynote lecture entitled "Bombast & Ballyhoo: The Power of the Poster", prior to the opening night festivities for the Richard Amsel retrospective at the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery in the University of the Arts.[7]

Many of David's works are now collectibles[8][9][10] and are exhibited in museums.[11] His work is also regularly included in expositions.

The poster that Byrd created for Bill Graham's Fillmore East, for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, was voted #8 in the Top 25 Rock Posters by Billboard Magazine[12] and can be seen in the Fantasy Unlimited article.

Further reading[edit]

Hearn, Michael Patrick; The Art of the Broadway Poster; New York, Ballantine Books; First Edition 1980; ISBN 0-345-28423-2


External links[edit]