Dan Blakeslee — Masks On Please

I bumped into this poster downtown and immediately recognized the artist’s name. I first learned that singer-songwriter Dan Blakeslee was a talented artist last summer when he was featured on CBS Saturday Morning. At that time, the topic was his popular artwork for the Heady Topper beer can.

Several years ago the owners of the Vermont brewery The Alchemist noticed Blakeslee’s concert posters hanging in a coffee shop and hired him to do the art for the brewery. The now famous label for Heady Topper came along in 2012. It was an immediate hit and still is — a recent USA Today readers poll named Heady Topper the winner for best beer label.

I was curious about this latest work and Blakeslee was kind enough to answer a few questions via message. The following interview has been edited for clarity.

PDD: What prompted you to create this pro-mask poster?

Blakeslee: I have been doing a lot of my own PSA’s in the past few months and hanging the posters around New England and putting them up online. I made the “No One Is Invincible” art on July 14th after I had been to a few communities visiting family and a few friends (safely) and noticed the alarming amount of folks not wearing masks in public. It seems folks have started to step it up in the past week or so as I have driven around doing errands.

And I think it’s great at most towns I have visited have electric signs along the roads asking people to wear masks. I know it’s summer time and it’s hot out… but I would rather be hot than dead.

PPD: Is there a downloadable file somewhere?

Blakeslee: I mainly made this art to post online though I made some posters to hang up in local businesses. Though I didn’t directly make a pointed place where people could download it they can always grab it from my initial Facebook post. I just didn’t want someone to start monetizing from it as I have seen that happen a lot.

PDD: For me, these figures have a real R. Crumb look to them which I mean as a compliment.

Blakeslee: I am a huge fan of R. Crumb and I hadn’t noticed the similarity in the artwork. Perhaps because we both use pen and ink. Either way I will take the compliment!

PDD: What music have you been working on?

Blakeslee: I have been working on finishing up two albums! The first is called “Road Hymns”. It is a solo album which is a collection of unreleased songs I have recorded at places that are sacred to me throughout New England. The first song was recorded under a lilac tree in Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, MA.

The second album is a full band holiday record called “Christmasland Jubilee”! It’s got all the bells and whistles and whimsy of a classic Christmas record before the days of autotune and cell phones. We wanted it to have a retro sound without trying too hard to have one… it was such a blast to make. For the sessions I fully “decked the halls” of the studio with retro holiday decorations, dressed up as Santa Claus and I made cocoa for all the musicians and reindeer. I am hoping to release this album sometime in September.

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Thank you, Dan. Something to look forward to. And remember everybody, “No one is invincible. Please wear a mask!”

 

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