Bob Dylan

With its psychedelic fusion of music, colour and hallucinogenic drugs, Martin Sharp's iconic poster of Bob Dylan captured the spirit of the Summer of Love in swinging London. Germaine Greer later declared Want to know what the 60s were like? Then look at Martin Sharp's work... Everybody who can remember anything about the 60s can remember Martin's poster of Dylan as Mr Tambourine Man, printed in red and black on gold paper.

The design was one of the first completed by the Australian artist and founder of Oz magazine on arriving in London in 1966 and appeared on the cover of the seventh issue of the satirical underground journal. Based around a photograph of Bob Dylan, the dense collage pictured his curls as an intense mass of blooming circles with large lettering reading MISTER TAMBOURINE MAN and additional lyrics from Dylan's songs scattered through the work, notably the words Blowing in the Mind reflected in his spectacles as a play on the Dylan song Blowing in the Wind.

Interviewed in 2002, Sharp recalled I can remember my dear friend Eija Vehka-aho creating all the beautiful circles that makeup Bob Dylan's hair and which contribute so much to the work. The photograph, which forms the main image, was enlarged from a small photo in a book. The central image in the hair is a knot design, possibly by Leonardo da Vinci. Aubrey Beardsley's work was enjoying a revival at the time and there were many posters being produced from many sources and periods, as well as by the young artists of the day. There is certainly a Beardsley flavour.

The lettering is by me and all these elements were collaged together to make the complete image. Bob Dylan's Mister Tambourine Man was a favourite song of mine. My poster is really just a tribute to Bob Dylan, a songwriter, and singer I have greatly admired since first hearing him in 1964. The poster was printed by Peter Ledeboer, who was the printer of OZ Magazine, and he also distributed it to the numerous poster shops and stalls. It was sold for £1, in an unlimited edition, and was very much a part of the times in London in the late 1960s.

A pioneer in the market for commercial pop culture posters, the distributor of Oz magazine Peter Ledeboer set up Big O Posters in September 1967. Printed in red and black inks on glossy gold metallic-faced card, Blowing in the Mind was one of the first posters in the Big O series and allocated the number BOP1 in the company's sale catalogues and advertisements. Reportedly, over 100,000 copies of the poster were sold to young Bob Dylan fans around the world between 1967-1970, though few have survived in excellent condition.

Often pinned or taped to bedroom walls, the stiff card was prone to creasing when rolled and the thin foil facing known to tear or tarnish. Examples of this poster reside in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and MOMA, New York.

Excellent (A-)
Unfolded cardstock, not backed. A few nicks and creases to corners and edges, the largest a 2in. horizontal crease at the right edge. A couple of further light creases throughout. No sign of tarnishing to gold foil. Image and colours excellent.

British Commercial Poster
29⅜ x 19½ in. (74.7 x 49.4 cm.)


  • Music
  • Country of Origin: Published by Big O Posters Ltd., London