The Secret History Behind Every Roots Picnic Poster Ever Made

Q: Will this weekend (June 3) be the best ever for 2017?

A: Indubitably.

This year, the Roots Picnic celebrates its 10 year anniversary with a cavalcade of legends, icons, newcomers, and artists through-and-through. Since setting up shop at Philadelphia’s Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing, Questlove, Black Thought, and Shawn Gee have made sure to blend their eccentric tastes to culminate in a festival that delights all palettes.

To ensure that the branding around The Picnic remained on brand, The Roots turned to Okayplayer‘s president, Dan Petruzzi, to lead the charge of promoting and marketing The Roots Picnic. Imagine having the distinction of framing how the rest of the music-loving world will see your premiere event? How do you stand up to the challenges that come with getting the OK from the game’s ultimate players?

Well, for Dan Petruzzi and his proverbial Rolodex of illustrators, painters, and designers, it was daunting, even frustrating at times, but in the end, worth it to cement The Roots Picnic as one of the best shows in the festival business.

To celebrate a decade mark for The Roots Picnic, we sat down with Dan as he regaled us with the Secret History of The Roots Picnic Posters for every single poster that has promoted the lineup since The Picnic’s inception a decade ago

Designed By: Thomas Bongiorno

I have literally dozens of sketches and attempts at artwork for all 10 years. The standout moment I had in putting together the 10th annual Roots Picnic poster came from when I sent Shawn [Gee] 20 options and he picked the blandest one of them… because that’s what works best for promoters and for selling tickets… not overly thought out art.

That’s when all my dreams of making something collectible and classic for Roots Picnic were crushed [laughs]. We aren’t even printing posters this year. I ran into Black Thought at our screening of [the James Baldwin-documentary] I Am Not Your Negro, and he was like, “What’s up with that [poster]?” All I could say was, ‘I know, Rik, I know.’

Designed By: Nicholas Quintero

I’ve always sought out to work with artists who are easy to deal with and with whom we could spitball ideas back-and-forth. Nick has been incomparable as far as that goes. The idea has always been to try and create something fun [for the fans]. [Roots Picnic] is summer, it is live music and it’s a classic good time hoot. Like pinball? I don’t know. People seemed to like it. Working with Nick has been a blessing. He just quit his job to focus more on his art, which I think is a great idea. Holler at him when you see him, check out his work and thank you, Nick!

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is the managing editor of Okayplayer. His top three MCs are: 1) Andre 3000, 2) Scarface, and 3) Black Thought. Debate him on Twitter @KevitoClark.

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