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You appreciate this look, even if you cant define it. It is guitars and Cadillacs with a touch of Mohawk.

It is Louis LAmour as told to Sid Vicious (of Sex Pistols fame). Clean yet gritty, hip and somehow refreshingly antique; skating a razor wire between fashionable and old-fashioned, equal parts Manhattan sidewalk and Lubbock honky-tonk. On the one hand it speaks to the best of Americana apple pie, Superman, Route 66 and all of that while retaining a scruffiness that would sit comfortably next to alleyway graffiti a fine line to tread indeed, and one that few people could successfully pull off. Yet to sit down across a desk from Dirk Fowler is to understand the man who sprang a dusty letterpress from the auctioneers block to churn out startlingly fresh posters for bands who are better known for their underground luster than for their top-40 appeal. Fowler, with his shaggy hair and square-rimmed designer glasses, with his vintage western shirts and mellow vibe, embodies the best of both worlds. And despite having cranked out pieces promoting gigs for the likes of Loretta Lynn and Modest Mouse, he is decidedly understated about his status as an emerging international star in a field that pairs rock glamour with artistic sensibilities. This is something you kind of just do because you love to do it, the assistant professor of art said while sitting in his office a few months ago. Not because its going to make you rich or because you will get famous for it. Fowler says this earnestly, as if heedless of his the clutter around him of the watch boxes he designed for Fossil, say, or the books and magazines touting his works. Yet he is also aware that his posters are so prized that they often wind up decorating living room walls before the headliners they promote have tuned up, let alone stepped onto stage for their encore. They dont stay up for long, he admits of his creations. From Mandolins to Band Ink First he wanted to be a musician, but that didnt pan out. Then he spent ten years toiling as an advertising art director. In the end, the music won out, and Fowler found a cozy niche for partnering the interests. I though Why not make art for music, he said. I always had this strong passion for creating art and for music. Combining the two was a natural thing. In college he plucked the mandolin for a few bands. He struggles to pin their sound down, but finally settles on the label alt-country (a.k.a. alternative country, for the uninitiated). This loosely defined and eclectic genre fuses bluegrass and folk styling with flavors of rock, punk and, well, just about anything else. The sound fits Fowlers design style.

He cuts images by hand out of rubber, for instance, and sets his own type, thus eschewing the computer-clean style common of most modern designers. He rolls on colors that hit the eyes like neon script glowing through a grubby dive window. This process setting the type, rolling ink, running paper through the press is as important as the design. I use a computer just about every day, obviously, but there is something very personal about making the posters. Or, as the Website for F2 Design a venture with his wife, Carol states, We like to get ink under our fingernails. Keeping Lubbock Cultured Fowler doesnt attend many of the concerts hes promoting anymore family guy but values the music culture of his chosen community. Thats why, despite his command of increasingly big venues, he continues to churn out posters, often for free, plugging local events. (Fowler) does posters for a lot of the concerts we host, said Ali Rana, station manager for student-run radio station KTXT. Sometimes we dont even have to ask for them. Hell just call us up and say hes coming by to drop one off for us. Granted their window-life is often short-lived; paradoxically, the very qualities that make the posters stand out often serve to diminish the effectiveness of his creations, which, after all, exist primarily to promote concerts and not as home dcor. I think it is important to produce items that are used, said Fowler of this trend. The concert poster has become a kind of an artifact or collectible, but I still want my works to be used for the purpose they were created for. As for the music Fowler prefers, he said he is drawn to independent artists; people who are making music for themselves and their fans. He pauses as a new turn of phrase strikes him, then adds Musicians who are making music for the same reasons I make my posters.