“Legends” is this year’s Alaska Folk Festival poster. It was made by Mesa, Arizona, artist Jonny Antoni.

“Legends” is this year’s Alaska Folk Festival poster. It was made by Mesa, Arizona, artist Jonny Antoni.

Folk Fest: Meet the artist behind this year’s poster design

Devil’s club played a part

The 2019 Alaska Folk Festival poster has Juneau roots, even if they might not be obvious.

The piece was made by Mesa, Arizona, resident Jonny Antoni, and he titled his work “Legends.”

“It was a blast,” Antoni said during a phone interview with the Capital City Weekly. “I loved doing it.”

Artist Jonny Antoni, seen here fishing near Yakobi Island on Cross Sound in September 2018, is a Mesa, Arizona resident and designed the poster for this Alaska Folk Festival. (Courtesy Photo | Jonny Antoni)

Artist Jonny Antoni, seen here fishing near Yakobi Island on Cross Sound in September 2018, is a Mesa, Arizona resident and designed the poster for this Alaska Folk Festival. (Courtesy Photo | Jonny Antoni)

Each year, new artwork is made for folk fest, and it graces posters and merchandise. A gallery of posters dating back to 1976 is available through akfolkfest.org.

Antoni’s artwork references the festival’s history — this year is the 45th annual folk fest — as well as its Juneau setting via mountains, a towering conifer and a bear.

The tall tree and negative space created by a dark border combine to create the distinct outline of a stringed instrument.

Antoni said he was specifically inspired by the curvaceous shape of a stand-up bass, but it’s a stand-in for just about any string instrument.

[Alaska Folk Festival guest artists have bajo sexto appeal]

“The bass is a lot of fun to look at,” Antoni said.

The poster’s title was also worked into the piece.

“I think this year’s artwork is spectacular,” said Ian Putnam, Alaska Folk Festival board president.

Putnam said he first became aware of Antoni and his work a few years ago.

“I was living in a house in Douglas, and one of my housemates was his sister,” Putnam said.

Antoni came to live in that house for a stretch, and Putnam remembers being thoroughly impressed by something Antoni made as a thank-you gesture.

The artist cut out shapes from a devil’s club leaf to create a fox’s face.

“It just seemed very Southeast Alaska folk art,” Putnam said. “It’s kind of how this relationship got started.”

Putnam said the work was commissioned, but declined to say how much was paid for the art that Antoni estimated took about 20 hours over the course of a few months to complete.

However, Putnam said it was less than would normally be paid for similarly involved work. He said generally, folk fest logo designers understand they’re working for a festival that does not pay performers or charge admission.

“The artists in these cases understand what this festival is all about,” Putnam said.

[2019 folk fest schedule]

Antoni does have first-hand experience with Alaska Folk Festival, but he won’t be going to it this year because of a broken collar bone.

“I’ve been to two, but I’m not going to make it to this one,” he said.


• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907) 523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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