An independent archive of typography.

Woodstock movie posters

Contributed by Sebastian Niemann on Apr 10th, 2015. Artwork published in
circa 1970
Woodstock movie posters 1
Warner Brothers. License: All Rights Reserved.

What typefaces were used for the Woodstock movie posters? The answer appears to be simple: It’s Burko, designed sometime before 1969. The poster was released by Warner Brothers in 1970. But … wait. A closer look reveals that ‘a’, ‘y’, ‘m’, ‘n’ as well as ‘3’ are off. The various outstanding s-ligatures are remarkable, too. Are they custom? Or were there alternates?

At first glance the German version of the poster adapted the typeface, but with shortened ascenders. Also, the ‘es’ pair isn’t that pretty. The figure ‘3’ was taken from Futura, which was also used for the footer. Furthermore, ‘f’, ‘g’, ‘l’ and maybe other letters are modified Burko.

Improvisation, handmade and a peaceful coexistence are three keywords that could describe both the “3 days of peace, music and love” and the typography of these movie posters (and the strange photomontage of the crowd too).

Woodstock movie posters 2
Warner Brothers. License: All Rights Reserved.
Woodstock movie posters 3
License: All Rights Reserved.

1 Comment on “Woodstock movie posters”

  1. Thanks, Sebastian, that’s an interesting one. In the first image, ‘y’ and ‘3’ are only off when compared to the showing of Burko in the 1969 Chicago 2 CSCA/STA Annual.

    In the Headliners catalog from 1978, Burko is shown with exactly this u-shaped ‘y’ and a round-top ‘3’. The blue type in the third image appears to be off-the-shelf Burko, with the spurless ‘m’, ‘n’ and ‘a’. The Headliners specimen also depicts alternates with shorter descenders.

    Maybe Burko had more alternates? Film typefaces often came with plenty of extra glyphs. Maybe the letters were modified, or custom drawn and only loosely based on Burko? The German poster sure looks like a hack job involving several sources. This ultrageometric style was very popular around that time, and there were other similar typefaces like Bauhaus Geometric or Churchward Design 70.

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