Biography

David Byrd

Born near Chattanooga, Tennessee, David Edward Byrd was raised in Florida, graduating from Miami Beach High School in 1959. He attended the Boston Museum School and then Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, where he received a BFA in Painting & Design in 1964 and an MFA in Painting & Printmaking in 1966 and then moved to NYC.

 

In early 1968, at the recommendation of art school chums who were running things for Bill Graham at the new Fillmore East in Manhattan’s East Village, David Byrd signed on as the exclusive poster & program designer. Between 1968 & 1973 he created posters for Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, the Who & their rock opera Tommy; Traffic, Iron Butterfly, Ravi Shankar, and the Grateful Dead. In 1969 David created the first version of the commemorative poster for Woodstock, but when the venue changed the organizers had Arnold Skolnick hastily design the “dove and guitar” poster more commonly associated with the event. That same year Byrd created the graphic for the Rolling Stones 1969 Tour that tragically ended at Altamont.

 

In late 1969 Byrd formed the Yellow Studio and in 1970 began his career as a Broadway poster designer and over the next 20 years he designed posters for many Broadway & Off-Broadway shows including Sondheim’s Follies; Godspell; Jesus Christ Superstar; The Magic Show; Sister Mary Ignatius; Little Shop of Horrors; and Steel Magnolias. Beyond the stage, Byrd & the Yellow Studio created book covers for most of the major publishers, album covers for most of the major music companies, and many advertising illustrations for Madison Avenue. From 1970 to 1979 Byrd taught at both Pratt Institute and The School of Visual Arts before moving to Los Angeles where he has continued to live and thrive on countless art, design and illustration projects.

 

When Pratt Institute named a Pratt artist for every year of its 125-year history, the art school picked Byrd, who was on faculty, for 1968. That’s the year Byrd created the now iconic Jimi Hendrix Experience concert poster for New York’s then-new Fillmore East. The poster is number 8 on Billboard’s list of the 25 Best Rock Posters of All Time. The artist's work is in major museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art and Le Musee des Arts Decoratif at the Louvre.

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