Keeping the Grateful Dead’s Artistic Legacy Alive in ‘The Epic Tour’
Creative Allies has teamed up with the makers of The Grateful Dead Game – The Epic Tour to let fans design a poster for the Grateful Dead show voted “Most Epic” by fans and help create the visual look of the new online game, to be released April 20, 2012.
The Epic Tour aims to be the definitive online experience for those who love The Grateful Dead, so we recently sat down with Adam Blumenthal of game developers Curious Sense to learn more about the upcoming game, classic psychedelic artwork and tips for designers looking to score $1000+ in cash and prizes by creating an epic poster for the Grateful Dead Game.
Creative Allies: Can you tell us a little bit about The Grateful Dead Game – The Epic Tour? What does it allow fans to do?
Adam Blumenthal: The Epic Tour is an adventure game that recreates the experience of getting to shows, in an abstract way. In the game universe, the shows take place in a Grateful Dead outer space, with the top ten Grateful Dead concerts, as voted by fans, serving as the different levels in the game. The game experience has a side-scrolling format — like a clasic Mario or Sonic game, for instance — where you’re moving around the environment avoiding obstacles and enemies and collecting things while trying to get to these ten epic concerts.
CA: What has inspired such a strong legacy of original Grateful Dead artwork?
Adam Blumenthal: The Grateful Dead were born in psychedelic San Francisco during a musical and artistic renaissance, and their musical colleagues were artists like The Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin, and they also had a whole group of visual artists that were a part of their scene like the legendary rock concert poster artists Rick Griffin, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley and Wes Wilson. So with these guys it was a big part of their scene from the beginning, especially with Bill Graham putting on great shows almost every night of the week with unique posters commissioned for every show.
Another big part of it is The Grateful Dead as a name; it’s not just made up but refers to an ancient type of folk tale. These folk tales inspire a whole body of art, like images of death and re-birth.
And lastly, the music! There’s just so much richness in the lyrics of their songs creating a deep well of aesthetic themes to choose from.
CA: What are the most recognizable aspects of a Grateful Dead poster?
Adam Blumenthal: Well you’ve got the skull and roses, the Uncle Sam skeleton character from the Grateful Dead movie, the skull with the lightning bolt (“Steal Your Face”); those are the primary images from the official Grateful Dead trademarks. Personally, my favorite artwork comes from the concert posters out of San Francisco. They also tap into Victorian Art Nouveau and psychedelic styles.
CA: The contest’s creative brief says to include aspects of the Dead’s May 8, 1977 concert at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in your poster; that these will translate into elements of the game. Can you give us an example of how that will work?
Adam Blumenthal: Well, for example with the Ithaca show, the environment that the player will be moving around in will have elements from the concert, like snow, waterfalls and gorges, silhouettes of cool architecture, etc. The player won’t be in the exact physical space that the concerts were played in, but they will be in an abstraction of it. It would be a sort of adaptation of the physical environment and what was going on historically at the time for each show.
CA: Any specific words of advice for our designers?
Adam Blumenthal: I would say listen to the music, especially the live music. A great place to start for beginners is Live/Dead, the band’s first live album from 1969.
Just have fun and listen to that live music. Take inspiration from those concert posters, honor that legacy but make it contemporary.
For further inspiration, check out this video of The Epic Tour: