Vision Quest

Uncle Charlie is the best concert-poster artist in Houston — and he's legally blind.

But how does someone whose visual field is peppered with blind spots, not to mention a heightened sensitivity to light and color blindness — which Charlie discovered when he enlisted in the Marines after graduating from U of H — create a poster at all?

Charlie says it was making those Who posters that convinced him not to give up on his poster work, though of course it wasn't easy. "I had my face up against the [computer] screen and had headaches all the time, trying to get it to work," he admits. "Once I got that down and it was looking pretty good, I thought, 'Maybe I can do this.'"

It's much easier for him today. He uses the settings on his Macintosh designed to aid people with disabilities to reverse the screen's polarity — making the black areas white and vice versa. The zoom and smart-guide features of Adobe Illustrator assist his drawing, which he does with a simple mouse.

He uses thicker lines, and designs his posters around a strong central subject rather than the "elaborate crazy stuff" he does in the artwork he doesn't have to crank out on deadline. (Charlie has also designed several Houston Press covers, most recently the cover of our 2009 Music Awards issue.)

If anything, Uncle Charlie says his visual impairment has actually made him a better poster artist. Seriously.

"I don't know if that's because of the eyes or because I'm not at a full-time job anymore and I can spend more time doing it," he admits. "But it's bolder, and I think that's important because it kind of falls in line with my philosophy on posters and my style."

Charlie's philosophy dates back to his days as drummer for Houston hardcore legends Dresden 45. He designed all Dresden's gig flyers, and quickly realized the more they stood out on the telephone poles along lower Westheimer, the better the band's chances were of attracting people to their shows. His goal, he says, was to design a flyer someone could read while driving by or sitting at a stoplight nearby.

It still is.

"I make it to where I can read it," he explains. "And if I can read it, then you know somebody can read it from their car, or from across the street or whatever."

Uncle Charlie's art show, with posters and prints available for sale, is 6-11 p.m. Saturday, November 7, at Sig's Lagoon, 3710 Main, 713-533-9525 or

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