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Levon Mosgofian
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Chelsea, MA
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
San Francisco, CA
Levon Mosfogian was the founder and owner of Tea Lautrec LItho, the leading printer of rock concert posters during San Francisco’s vibrant music scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s. From the first poster printed in 1967 for concert promoter Bill Graham (1931-1991), Mosgofian's firm printed over 200 posters for Graham by the time Graham closed his Fillmore East and West ballrooms in mid-1971. The firm also printed posters during those years for Chet Helms (1942-2005), who promoted concerts as The Family Dog at the Avalon Ballroom and later on San Francisco’s Great Highway. Mosgofian was born in Chelsea, MA on Aug. 2, 1907. His family moved to Fresno in 1918. Mosgofian moved to Los Angeles in 1924 and entered the printing trade in 1925. About 1930 he settled in San Francisco to work in its thriving printing industry. A self-taught artist, during the Depression he was a lithographer for the Works Progress Administration. Around 1946 he obtained work with the Neal, Stratford & Kerr printing company in San Francisco, a shop known for its letterpress printing but not lithography. Mosgofian took over their offset lithograph presses and developed a fine reputation for that work. Through Joseph Buchwald (1917-2012), one of the printers who also worked there, Mosgofian was introduced to Graham; Buchwald’s son Marty Balin was a founder of the Jefferson Airplane, one of the bands Graham promoted. Mosgofian set up a separate division to work with the rock poster artists, which he called “Toulouse Lautrec Posters, a Division of Neal, Stratford & Kerr,” paying homage to the great French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901). The name evolved to "Tea Lautrec Litho." Mosgofian died in San Francisco on Jan. 6, 1994. When later in 1967 Neal, Stratford & Kerr closed its doors, Mosgofian took all of the offset lithograph equipment in lieu of unpaid overtime pay, did business as Tea Lautrec Litho and continued the fruitful relationship with Graham and his artists. The artists included the “Big Five” of rock poster art, Rick Griffin (1944-1991), Alton Kelley (1940-2008), Stanley Mouse (b. 1940), Victor Moscoso (b. 1936) and Wes Wilson (b. 1937), as well as MacLean, Lee Conklin (b. 1941) and Singer. Mosgofian continued to employ Buchwald and added Monroe Schwartz (1925-2000) to the staff. Mosgofian, Buchwald and Schwartz were known for working closely with the artists and helping them to translate their visions into print, particularly with regard to color selection, a very important service since few of the artists (other than Moscoso) had any training in lithography. The printers also worked long hours to meet the weekly deadlines for printing the posters. After the Family Dog and Graham closed their ballroom operations, the music business evolved but Tea Lautrec Litho continued to print posters and other materials for bands, including the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead and The Who. Singer designed a poster celebrating Mosgofian’s 70th birthday in 1977. The shop was still operating in 1990 when Graham commissioned it to print the poster for Paul McCartney’s concert in the University of California, Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium on March 31, 1990. Tea Lautrec Litho closed when Mosgofian died in San Francisco in 1994. (TNB 1/2016) Selected bibliography: Grushkin, Paul. The Art of Rock: Posters from Presley to Punk. Pp. 81-82, 145-146, 317. New York: Abbeville Press, 1987. Marks, Ben. “Was Levon Mosgofian of Tea Lautrec Litho the Most Psychedelic Printer in Rock?,” Collectors Weekly, September 22, 2014.