Arnold Skolnick, the designer of one of the most iconic images of the 20th century with his poster for the Woodstock festival, died June 15 in Amherst, Massachusetts at 85. .The cause of death was respiratory failure, according to his son Alexander Skolnick.
Skolnick was not a huge fan of rock music when he designed the poster on a deadline of several days. Skolnick was 32 at the time, and created the “peace, love and music” message with an image of a guitar neck with a white bird perched atop. Below it was the slogan “3 Days of Peace & Music.”
“I brought it by to (the festival producers) on Monday afternoon,” said Skolnick, who received the assignment on the Thursday prior.. “It was just another job, but it became famous.”
Originally, Skolnick toyed with the idea of a flute in the image, but then switched to a guitar. As for the bird, Skolnick says many people thought it was a dove. But its inspiration was the catbirds he was sketching on Shelter Island, New York. “I forgot to tell the printer that the beak should be black,” revealed Skolnick, “and so it’s a red beak.”
Skolnick was paid $12,000 for the work, splitting the fee with a copywriter. He did attend Woodstock for one day, but left before the rain started.
Suvivors include his sons Alexander and Peter from his first marriage to Irish Jay. Skolnick is also survived by his grandchildren Mose and Charna, and sister Helene Rothschild.