David Singer

     The final and most prolific of the classic Fillmore Auditorium poster artists, David Singer was also among the most original, drawing upon influences ranging from art deco to surrealism to create collages distinguished not only by their geometric precision and clarity but also by their enduring sense of mystery. A native of Quakertown, PA, born in 1941, Singer was interested in mysticism since childhood, when a teacher instructed him in the art of drawing hex signs; his other adolescent fascination was magazines, and over the years he built an enormous collection of scrapbook images out of the pages he tore from publications like National Geographic, Life, Colliers, and The Saturday Evening Post.

     After graduating from high school, Singer joined the U.S. Navy; discharged in 1964, he settled in San Francisco, and despite his lack of formal training pursued a career in commercial art. Getting by on a variety of odd jobs, during the mid-'60s he began assembling his first collages, and in 1968 he met with famed concert promoter Bill Graham, who hired him to create a dozen posters for upcoming gigs at the Fillmore West. Singer broke with established tradition by rejecting the dense patterns, eye-popping colors, and ornate lettering that were all hallmarks of the Fillmore style, boasting instead a classicist design sensibility informed by the bold, streamlined designs of the art deco and art nouveau schools; the collages contained therein, meanwhile, were influenced by the surrealists as well as the work of Ernstand Magritte.

     Singer's impact on his fellow artists was pronounced, and helped push the underground culture toward a newfound fine art aesthetic; in all, he produced 66 posters for the Fillmore between 1969 and 1971, more than any of his colleagues. His output included the poster commemorating the Fillmore's closing during the summer of 1971, bringing an era to its end. Singer continued creating poster art for acts like Santana and the Rolling Stones during the years that followed, as well as designing countless covers for albums, book jackets, and magazines; he also worked as a logo designer both at home and in Japan. By the 1990s, he was working primarily in the field of computer graphics, dividing his energies between commercial projects and a series of books he wrote and illustrated. On occasion Singer returned to rock art, creating a 1990 poster for Paul McCartney as well as designing the programs for both the 1992 and 1993 San Francisco Rock Poster Expo.

Back to the top