News - 14 June 2023

Art poster 52nd edition

This year’s Pinkpop Art Poster was created by graphic designer and screen printer Harmen Liemburg. A spacey landscape of sound waves and a singing starling ‘mainstage’. ‘You won’t believe your ears!”

The Pinkpop poster is the most discussed topic on the festival grounds, except perhaps for the music. Countless collectors (including Jan Smeets) have the entire collection hanging on their walls. So when designer Cor van Wees, the mastermind behind 42 Pinkpop posters, decided for 2022 that he wanted to outsource design of the festival’s artwork, one thing was certain: the art poster stays.

In his new role as curator, every year Cor chooses a (young) artist to create the poster. This may be a graphic designer, but also a photographer, a painter or a poet. This way you can add a surprising art poster to your collection each time and the tradition lives on.

By choosing Harmen, Buro Pinkpop is putting a big name to work. His work can be admired in museums all over the world, from France to Japan. For the art poster, he looked at the earthly possessions in a room of an average music lover. “For practical reasons, I got rid of my vinyl, CDs and cassettes years ago. I sometimes regret that. I only listen digitally anymore, but particularly miss the pleasure of looking at LP covers. Without wanting to be nostalgic, I find it interesting that a new generation has fully embraced the ritual of spinning records and fiddling with tapes again.”

“While I was working on the design, I saw videos on Instagram of Sarah Tidwell, a visual artist who adopted a young starling. The youngster becomes an adult bird and begins to sing more and more. The sounds from that little throat are mesmerizing, almost otherworldly. You don’t believe your ears! I love watching and listening to birds anyway, so it’s not very strange that an animal artist was given the “main stage” in my design.

Harmen initially planned to print the print run of 100 posters himself as well. “In screen printing I can use colors that are not in the palette of the average offset printer. And it is much more tangible because of the relatively thick layers of ink and pigment you work with in this technique, but also a bit coarser. In view of the modest size and detail that Daniel and I wanted to achieve, we will therefore print digitally – just like Cor’s posters. But on somewhat duller paper.

Daniël van der Velden, was brought in because of his experimental work as an animator of typography. “Daniël is a real vector wizzard with a technical knowledge that I cannot match. I have to have that in there I thought. Eventually the design went in a completely different direction, and he drew the starry sky and all the typography. The collaboration went very smoothly. We will definitely do this again!”

Needless to say, Harmen is a big music fan. His favorite Pinkpop? That is, as it should be, his first. “That was that rainy 1987 edition, with Hüsker Dü and Chris Isaak. Nowadays I prefer to experience it from the couch. I always faithfully watch Public Broadcasting’s registrations.”

That Harmen is a screen printer was one of the reasons for Cor van Wees to choose him this year. “Jan Smeets is also a qualified screen printer. I thought, okay, we’re coming full circle. Last year my daughter designed the art poster. That was an advanced 3D poster made with state-of-the-art technology. The next step would be artificial intelligence. I didn’t want to go in that direction. We’re going back to basics.”

Cor began his career as a screen printer himself. For forty years he designed the Pinkpop posters and was responsible for the entire design of the festival. Since stepping down, as curator he chooses an artist each year to design the poster. “Harmen showed me what fascinates him in music. He’s very fascinated by peripherals. I couldn’t have come up with that, that’s something new. I think it’s very exciting what he’s going to make of it.”

Last year, an emerging artist was chosen. You can hardly say that about Harmen. But as far as Cor is concerned, this choice says nothing about the following years: everything is open. “Above all, the new generation must not let themselves be thrown out of the game. This is a way for me to challenge them. I would say: come on up!”

About Harmen
For each project, Harmen Liemburg (1966) immerses himself in the visual aspects of a particular subject, including clichés or apparent trivia. The visual building blocks he gathers from this are often redrawn and adapted for the screen printing technique. During this process, the individual elements take on new roles and meanings as they are combined in a poetic way. Each project is thus a graphic exploration in itself.