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Jim Evans is one of the leading lights of the underground comix movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Initially creating comic strips for the Los Angeles Free Press, he later moved to Hawaii, working as a contributor on Surfer magazine. He channeled this countercultural credibility into album artwork for musicians as diverse as Neil Young, Alice Coltrane and The Beach Boys, before moving into designing concert posters during the eighties.
His work designing rock posters led to the creation of a new moniker and company, the Temporary Autonomous Zone, often shortened to T.A.Z., as well as founding his own design studio, Division 13, in 2000. Jim Evans’ artwork has spanned many mediums, including film posters, comics, and books. He has participated in numerous limited edition and gallery shows, and recently has expanded his career to include fine art, murals and street art. This includes commissions by Playboy magazine for silkscreen portraits of celebrities including David Letterman, Marilyn Monroe, Joe Montana and Sylvester Stallone.
Born in 1950, Jim Evans grew up in Southern California, taking a keen interest in the booming surfing culture of his native San Diego which took hold in the early sixties. When not sidetracked by his high school studies, Evans spent his days on the coast preparing for surf competitions and helping to paint local surf stores. His nights were spent practicing in a surf rock group, influenced by Link Wray and Buddy Holly, and designing logos and flyers for other local bands.
Jim Evans never lost sight of his passion for art along with his love of music, however, while increasingly aware of the significant cultural and political revolutions going on around the world at the time. Indeed, it was the looming threat of the draft which led the self-described “dopey cartoonist” to relocate to Santa Monica and enrol at the Art Center College of Design and CalArts.
It was during his time at art college that Evans made his first forays into drawing for countercultural papers like the Los Angeles Free Press, Surfer and Yellow Dog. This was the most widely-published of the Underground Comix, and his comic strips sat alongside those from the illustrious likes of R Crumb. By this point, he was being commissioned so frequently that, as Evans puts it, “I didn’t even bother to finish art school,” and he relocated to Hawaii in 1971, painting for brands like Hawaiian Airlines, as well as surfing magazines and concert posters.
By the mid-seventies, having returned to California, Jim Evans was creating artwork and logos for many of the musicians he’d grown up idolising, from The Doors’ Robbie Krieger to the kings of surf themselves, The Beach Boys. However, he also took more straightforward commercial work, most notably for Cadillac Wheels. Yet, after the late-seventies punk boom rendered his more psychedelic leanings outdated, he found himself going in an even more commercial direction, albeit still with one eye on the counterculture.
This period of Jim Evans’s art career included the creation of fine art-indebted prints of rock heroes like Jimi Hendrix and Elvis, in a series called Icon Narratives. He also designed the lettering, posters and graphics for Neil Young’s 1979 album and concert film Rust Never Sleeps, and posters for cult films like John Carpenter’s Dark Star.
These idyllic years ended abruptly when a series of fires engulfed his Malibu home, including most of his archive. However, shortly before the 1993 blaze, Evans had run into members of the bands Nirvana and L7, who asked him to return to his roots and design a poster for a benefit concert they were putting on. The show, named Rock For Choice, thrust him into the consciousness of what had just been dubbed Generation X.
Between 1994 and 1998, Evans created more than 200 posters for alternative rock artists ranging from Beastie Boys and Beck to Foo Fighters and Rage Against The Machine, as well as the Tibetan Freedom Concert and Lollapalooza music festivals. These were created in collaboration with fellow artists Rolo Castillo and Gibran Evans under the moniker of TAZ.
While working as part of TAZ, Evans also began to see the potential of the internet, and not only formed his own online record label, Atomic Pop, but began to design websites for major motion pictures like Se7en, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Men in Black. Occasionally making return forays into rock poster design and fine art, continues to work on elevated, artistically-minded digital marketing campaigns for Hollywood from his Malibu studio, as part of his current venture, Division 13 Design Group.
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