Local Artist Picked from 60,000 Entries to Illustrate Tickets for the Grateful Dead’s Final Show
Local artist, Judea Star’s envelope art was chosen to illustrate the ticket used at the Grateful Dead’s final show. “Back in the day before internet and being able to order things at the push of a button you had to mail in an order for tickets,” explained Star. The band, she said, always got more requests then tickets.” So, hoping to catch someone’s eye, fans began illustrating the envelopes containing their orders.
Of course, with booking online, this practice began disappearing. But, for the culmination of their musical careers, the Grateful Dead decided to sell a block of tickets by postal mail and encouraged their fans (known as Deadheads) to illustrate their envelopes. They announced a contest in which three illustrations would be chosen to decorate the tickets for the three last shows. (See photo top of article.)
Star’s entry (see photo below) was selected from over 60,000 entries to be on the back of the tickets for what the band says will be the final show ever.
“In the Deadhead reality, it was a huge deal,” Star explained, “to be plucked out of the crowd.”
Star says that amazingly she didn’t intend the candle drawing to be her entry. She had already sent in her entry (see photo below) when a friend, Lois Radke, came over and asked her to illustrate the envelope she was sending. Star says that Radke explained that she didn’t want to win the contest, she just wanted to catch the eye of whomever was deciding who got tickets. Radke gave Star a description of what image she would like. Star worked on the illustration for about an hour using markers that belonged to her 12-year-old daughter. She adapted the idea to fit her artistic taste but she had some obstacles to overcome.
“I didn’t have any art supplies,” she said. “I just had markers. Some without caps. I don’t think they had been touched in two years. I almost threw out the envelope three times.” She worried that her friends were going to be unhappy with what she had drawn. “I felt I was going to disappoint them. I handed it to them with an apology.”
Later, when she received a rejection letter for her original entry, she was heartbroken. But, then the entry she had done for a friend was selected.
“She got her order filled–12 tickets! And, I got two tickets to any night.” Star chose to get tickets for the night her ticket would be featured. “They gave me ticket number one and two,” she exclaimed still excited. “Who get’s ticket #1? Everybody at the show took a picture…when they saw ticket # 1.”
She passed the joy onward. “I miracled in my friend,” she explained. “I went by myself and I gave [the second ticket] to a friend of mine.”
The experience of being at the shows (she managed to get tickets to all three days) was exhilarating, she said. “They played all my favorite songs. It had to be the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had. The sound was incredible. I was with the most amazing people.”
The final show, the day her illustration was featured, was her favorite. “The love was so potent in the room there is not even a way to give it justice,” she said simply. “It was the best day of my entire life.”
At one point, Star said, she told people that she had drawn the illustration on the final ticket. People began lining up to have her sign autographs. “I totally felt like a celebrity–like I wasn’t even human any more. That was such a trip,” she explained breathlessly. But mostly, she said, she didn’t tell anyone because she wanted to focus on being part of the family of Deadheads.
But since the show, a lot of career possibilities have begun to open up to her. “I’ve had so many opportunities open for me,” she said. “People want me to be the artist for their project. My friend asked me to do all the artwork for his album! I’m just completely blown away!”
Star says she does digital art, leatherwork and painting. “I do everything. I am not limited by anything,” she laughed. “I will do the absolute best job I can do at anything. When I put my energy towards something, I want to make it good.”
Star explained that she hasn’t had a chance yet to figure out how this will affect her life. “At first it meant I was going to the show–now these doors are opening, This is such a huge blessing. It is too young yet to decipher what it all means.”
One thing she knows, “It is better then winning the lottery.” Asked if she would rather win the lottery or have had her drawing selected to illustrate the tickets, she says laughing, “I wouldn’t even bat my eyelash, I’d want my drawing chosen.”