- The History of Black Light Posters -
Hey man... is it just me, or is that poster glowing?
Don’t worry, your brain isn’t having a break down- that’s just the blacklight reactive ink! Gaining popularity during the rise of hallucinogens in the ’60s and ’70s, these illusion-inducing posters are a timeless symbol of the psychedelic counterculture of the Summer of Love.
How the Heck does it Work?
Developed by the Switzer brothers in the 1930’s for mostly military purposes, fluorescent paint combines natural minerals with fluorescent properties and shellac to create the psychedelic pigments which take on a groovy glow under ultraviolet blacklights.
The trick of the light that you see when you put the reactive ink under a blacklight is a naturally occurring molecular reaction taking place. The fluorescent minerals in the paint contain “activators” which, when exposed to UV light, cause the electrons in the atoms to move out of balance and expend a little bit of energy, which is released as light. Woah... science, man!
Rise of the Surreal in San Fran
Blacklight began to take over the youth scene when it emerged in ads for concert venues like the Fillmore and Avalon Ballroom. The psychedelic music crowd in San Francisco was an excellent audience to embrace the aesthetic of this illusion-inducing artwork because the posters were perfect for getting lost in while under the influence. Bands like the Grateful Dead and the Jimi Hendrix Experience popularized these psychedelic posters at their shows and then record stores and head shops started selling their own designs.
During this trippy time, dorm rooms and basements were covered in mystical mushrooms, bright tie-dyed buses, and fantastical fantasy scenes. While the blacklight craze lost some popularity after the psychedelic ‘70s came to an end, here at the Hippie Shop, the Summer of Love lives on!
Take yourself back in time with our newest collection of retro-inspired blacklight reactive posters. Creating a vintage vibe in your pad is a piece of cake: pick out your favorite poster, switch on your blacklight, turn up the music, and get lost in the hallucination encouraging hues!