C. Chad Hoffman – “Chad” to his many friends – is best known locally as the bassist for several local bands over the years: Section 8 (he was a keyboard player then), Saguaro, Red Eye Junction, Dark 8 Zero, Zen Mountain Poets, and currently Emergency Good Times Band. Since the pandemic kind of wiped out the music industry for a few years, Hoffman needed a new creative outlet, and he found it in digital art inspired by the “See America” ​​posters of the 1930s and 40s and colorful 70s Pop-art graphics.

He is currently showing a collection of his colorful and iconic posters at Atascadero’s Traffic Records, through July 31. He spoke to new times over a beer at one of his favorite watering holes, SLO’s Elks Lodge 322. How did he get into poster design?

Click to enlarge

  • Image courtesy of C. Chad Hoffman
  • BIG ON SPLENDOR C. Chad Hoffman was the first to capture this unusual angle of Big Sur’s iconic Bixby Bridge, which he transformed into a 1940s-style “See America” ​​educational poster.

“When I was at Red Eye Junction, I looked [lead singer and guitarist] Reid Cain does posters for shows, and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s bitchy.’ Then, when I was playing with Zen Mountain Poets, I started doing posters for our shows. They pretty much gave me free rein to design whatever I wanted, so I’m basically self-taught.”

Many band posters tend towards the pedestrian – a photo of the band is often the central theme. Hoffman had other ideas, trying to come up with an original image that would draw a viewer in: “If you can draw them in, then they’ll think, ‘Maybe I’ll check it out.’ “”

Soon, however, the live shows – and the need for posters to promote them – dried up.

“Everything started to shut down and we weren’t playing much, and I had to do something creative, or I was going to go crazy,” he recalls. “I walked into posters in 2020 and 2021 when things were dark and depressing for so many people. I wanted to show that there was still beauty in the world despite civil unrest and lockdowns. I used super bright colors, and it was therapy for me. Better than taking anti-depressants. There’s always beauty out there. I’d go to a place, put some music on, take pictures, then go home and work on the images.

Hoffman takes his photos on his iPhone and imports the images into Adobe Photoshop editing software, where he first transforms the image to make it look like a painting or screen print. He manipulates color, sometimes adds graphic elements like the starry sky in his San Luis Obispo poster, and then adds the text at the top.

Click to enlarge
THE MAN BEHIND THE CAMERA C. Chad Hoffman uses an iPhone camera and Adobe Photoshop software to turn his photos into iconic, pop art-style posters, which are on display at Atascadero's Traffic Records through July 31.  - PHOTO COURTESY OF CORY BAUER HOFFMAN

  • Photo courtesy of Cory Bauer Hoffman
  • THE MAN BEHIND THE CAMERA C. Chad Hoffman uses an iPhone camera and Adobe Photoshop software to turn his photos into iconic, pop art-style posters, which are on display at Atascadero’s Traffic Records through July 31.

Hoffman’s wife, Cory Bauer Hoffman, sometimes helps him with color design. She worked as a professional makeup artist on America’s Next Top Model hosted by Tyra Banks, so she has an eye for color. At his wife’s encouragement, he eventually took a Photoshop class at Cuesta College, his only formal instruction.

Photoshop is an amazing tool, but its powerful versatility is both good and bad – it’s complicated and takes a long time to become fully proficient.

“It can get overwhelming, and if I get stuck at any point, I might just give up and start all over again,” Hoffman admitted.

Does he ever consider upgrading to a higher resolution digital camera?

“I think the iPhone is good enough for what I’m doing right now,” he said, “Since I’m making it look like a painting, a little more grain or a little blurriness fits. ”

Click to enlarge
1970s STYLE The shadow of Terrace Hill hangs over SLO Town, looking towards Cerro San Luis and Bishop's Peak, in this pop art design by C. Chad Hoffman.  - IMAGE COURTESY OF C. CHAD HOFFMAN

  • Image courtesy of C. Chad Hoffman
  • 70’S STYLE The shadow of Terrace Hill hangs over SLO Town, looking towards Cerro San Luis and Bishop’s Peak, in this pop art design by C. Chad Hoffman.

It’s probably worth noting that Hoffman considers himself an “extreme introvert who doesn’t like much attention on me”, which is why he switched from keyboard to bass. “If I’m doing my job right, no one will notice I’m there. They’ll feel the beat, but the focus is on lead singer or lead guitarist, but I’m pretty ecstatic and honored that people would like to know what I do it creatively.”

If he keeps putting up these amazing posters, he might just have to get used to a little more attention. Access Traffic Records, browse Hoffman’s website, Facebook or Instagram, and soak up the colorful and iconic work of this self-taught but clearly talented visual artist.

“People sometimes ask me if I’m worried I’m running out of things to photograph, and I always say, ‘No. All you have to do is look around. Great pictures are everywhere,'” Hoffman said. Δ

Contact senior writer Glen Starkey at [email protected]

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