Meet Mike Johnston: 2014 ACL Fest Poster Artist

You’ve seen the lineup, snagged your ticket and made your plans to join us at ACL Fest 2014 … now score the Official Poster! To give you the back story on its uniquely Austin design, we caught up with this year’s poster artist, Mike Johnston.

We tapped Johnston, aka TRUTH, to put his distinct visual spin on the spirit of ACL Fest. In other words, it has an Austin vibe full of whimsy, adventure and well, truth.

What is the story behind your signature ‘TRUTH’ name?

The TRUTH name started as a fun word I used to throw around when I was enthusiastic about something. When I was trying to create an alias to use for my street art it just felt right… but lately I have seen it more as a challenge. To make art that claims to be TRUTH is pretty bold and I feel like it’s bigger than me and it pushes me out of my comfort zone to take more risks. The first place I used TRUTH was at the HOPE Outdoor Gallery. And for years the city has seen my art posted on walls, poles, bridges and electric boxes. If it lasts for more than a few weeks – I’m happy! Street art is a lovely breeze, it’s here one moment and gone the next. You have to enjoy it while it is there!

You’ve mentioned that music/lyrics have served as inspiration in the past. Was there a soundtrack to your design process? 

I am a huge fan of hip hop and reggae! The beat gets me super motivated. Whenever I would hit a lull in the creative process for this project I would play a song maybe ten or fifteen times in a row — Major Lazer, Bob Marley, Oddissee, Childish Gambino, Nas and even John Denver were in heavy rotation while I was creating! It was meditative for me and it would really get me turbo charged.

Whenever I hit a lull in the creative process for this project I would play a song maybe ten or fifteen times in a row — Major Lazer, Bob Marley, Oddissee, Childish Gambino, Nas and even John Denver were in heavy rotation while I was creating!

How did you come up with the visual concept for this year’s poster?  

I wanted to represent that the ACL Festival transports you to another place and time. A big part of the excitement is the anticipation of how you actually get there, who you go with, who you meet and what surprises will be revealed at the festival. The memories from this adventure will certainly be cherished.

What’s your favorite ACL Fest memory? 

Back in 2011 I had a chance to see Stevie Wonder. It was a dream come true! As Stevie took the stage, the energy in Zilker Park transformed! I simply had a blast singing along to his words that I recognized from my youth. It was truly special and I will never forget it. To this day, it has been my favorite live performance.

Let’s talk lineup. Who are you most excited to see perform? 

Outkast, Childish Gambino, Beck, Eminem, Gramatik, Lorde, Major Lazer, Foster The People, Calvin Harris, Skrillex, Jimmy Cliff, Ozomatli, and The Glitch Mob. And I know that plenty of new bands will show up on my radar after the festival… I can’t wait!!