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A Look Back at the Psychedelic Art of 1970s LSD Tabs

With the dark web’s biggest LSD dealer announcing an art contest, and growing numbers of creatives microdosing the drug, we look back at the retro art of acid tabs.

Taking a hit of acid before heading to the office may sound like a recipe for the least productive workday ever, but a growing number of creative professionals swear by it.

Known as microdosing, taking a very small amount of psychedelics like LSD or mushrooms is becoming especially popular among Silicon Valley creatives, who say it helps them think outside the box. While acid has long been associated with increased creativity, the legal restrictions on the drug have impeded conclusive studies on its effects and potential medical uses. Now, with creative professionals gulping down LSD with their morning coffee, and a proliferation of dark web marketplaces offering it for sale in bulk, it seems like the 70s’ drug of choice is making a comeback.

Given this renewed interest in LSD, maybe it’s not a surprise that the dark web’s most infamous acid dealer has recently announced he’s holding an art competition. Known as jesusofrave, this enigmatic dealer is asking artists to draw members of the dark web community The Majestic Garden, which Vice has described as “one of the more reputable drug markets on the dark web.” Winners will receive a bunch of free LSD. Please note: We do not recommend that you enter dark web art contests for drug prizes. (Here are better art contests to enter)

Jesusofrave’s art contest aims to “highlight the creative side of this dark web community” and pay homage to a long-established tradition of dealers getting artistic with their products. Beginning in the 70s, LSD dealers started printing trippy, colorful artwork on the tabs they sold. The designs were printed onto blotter paper before it was perforated and, ultimately, consumed.

Thanks to Mark McCloud, an acid aficionado who lives in San Francisco, a lot of this artwork is available to view online. McCloud has amassed a huge collection of vintage acid tabs—about 30,000 total, dating from the 70s onwards. “There’s a whole vignette of imagery that appears throughout that era and it’s usually on sheets of paper the same size as an LP so they could ship it dressed as a record,” McCloud says. He’s been arrested several times due to his controversial collection, despite the fact that most of the tabs are definitely too old to get anyone high.

Keep scrolling to find a gallery of some of the best LSD art from the psychedelic heyday of the 70s, 80s, and beyond, and find more at Blotter Barn.

Cover image via Trancentral.

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