Soapbox: Eye Candy (The Many Virtues of Poster Art)
As a music fan, was there ever a better feeling than walking into your favorite record store on Tuesdays to see the newest release from your favorite band sitting right out front in the “featured” section? Well, maybe some of us had to dig a little deeper in the stacks to find our band’s latest release, but either way, it was a great feeling, right?
We have seen an explosion in the digitization of consumerism and this couldn’t be more prevalent than in the music industry. Sure, you can make arguments for each side of the downloading debate, but that feeling of seeing your favorite record sitting there, shrink-wrapped, is gone for most. There are obviously still a lot of fans who buy their band’s records, but let’s be honest—it’s a dying breed.
Throughout the years, I’ve found that there was something that almost matched that feeling I had on Tuesday mornings: walking into a venue to see my favorite band and, there, hanging up behind the merchandise desk, was a beautifully screen printed poster, inspired by the band.
With downloading music, some people feel a bit of guilt—whether they would admit it or not. Fans should know that their favorite bands are making profits from their tours and merchandise. Every wrinkly dollar that you peel out of your pocket and place into the hands of the band’s sister, best friend or whoever else they can finagle into working the merch table, goes directly into the band’s pockets. For smaller bands, a poster sale could equal a case of beer or a plate of hash browns at a late night diner post-show.
Several years ago, I found myself befriending an up-and-coming poster artist named Justin Helton. He ran a merchandise design company called Status Serigraph and created beautiful hand screen printed posters for bands like The Avett Brothers, My Morning Jacket, TV on the Radio, The Decemberists, Phish and many more bands that all shared the common denominator: a love for posters.
After admiring and purchasing his work, I eventually found myself slightly obsessed. I realized there was a whole world of tangible, musical art that I thought had been lost in the underground wires of the Internet. Justin Helton, Guy Burwell, Print Mafia, Yeehaw!—these names became more familiar as I went to hundreds of concerts a year and made my way to the merch booth to see if the band had screen prints.
My love turned into a business in 2010—PROMOSTER. Unlike most businesses, I found that mine could be mutually beneficial for the bands as it hooks them up with talented artists and it puts some extra money in their pockets. The fans get tangible art inspired by their favorite bands while I get the satisfaction of free prints and working with musicians.
I decided to take on my friend and favorite artist, Justin Helton, as my first featured designer. Merely six months later, PROMOSTER has provided prints for everyone from for old-school poster perpetuators like Widespread Panic to newer advocates like Australia’s Tame Impala.
In working closely with several bands, I can tell you that a large return on merchandise at the end of the night results in smiles and celebration. So the next time you are going to see your favorite show—or just a local gig—mosey over to the merchandise desk and see if they have something hanging up. Chances are, you’ll think to yourself, “That would look pretty rad hanging up in my living room.” And the truth is: it will!
Posters are cheap, but made with a lot of love. Everyone wins with posters. They are personal. They act as a reminder of the amazing night you spent with your favorite band. And when your kids get become teenagers, you will have a shred of proof that you were—at one point—cool when you pull out your Great Went Robot Phish print.
Brock Bodell is the founder of PROMOSTER, a company devoted to connecting poster artists and bands. For more information about PROMOSTER, please visit www.hellopromoster.com.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
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