For a while now I’ve wanted to write more personal writing pieces, but never quite gotten there. Every blog I’ve tried to make has either felt forced, or neglected. Monthly is my best answer to that problem. In an effort to weed out over-posting for the sake of content creation, and posting one thing every 5 months and looking like a person who’s neglected a website, I’ve created a blog that this year will get exactly 12 entries. One for each month. I don’t really know exactly what it’s going to be about, except that I’ll probably be in it.
This month for the first time in a good long while one of my favorite poster designers released a new large format, screenprinted movie poster. His name is Tyler Stout.
Tyler Stout is by and large one of the most talented designers today. I’m not one to discount how there’s been a general rise in popularity in screenprinted posters over the past 10 years or so, but his work almost transcends that. Here’s his most recent poster for Guardians Of The Galaxy:
Dammit that is so cool. This goddamn poster, is so goddamn fucking cool, and I can’t get over it. Forget anything you’ve ever known about The Avengers, or Marvel, or even movies, and this is still, plain and simple, and goddamn fucking cool poster. His designs have everything you could want. A good use of color, a nice spread of all the characters in the movie he’s featuring, super detailed linework; everything. And the best part? Because they’re screenprinted they can get mass produced at a cheaper cost while still keeping that matte, “screenprinty” feel. At 24” x 36” this’ll liven up just about any room, and at $60 per print the price can’t be beat. Naturally, they’re very popular. However, it wasn’t until I tried to buy one that I realized how twisted that process actually is.
The principal problem with Tyler’s production model is that he’s under contract through Marvel--or somebody anyway--so he’s only allowed to produce a limited number of these bad boys per design. This time around, that cap was about 750. That’s a lot of posters. Honestly, selling 750 of anything is a feat unto itself. If I ever sell 750 of anything I design I’ll have far exceeded my wildest goals as a graphic designer. The point is, these sell out every time. And you know what, that’s fine. I’d be surprised if they didn’t. I’m not even pissed off that when they’re put on the market they usually go in under 5 minutes. If something is that popular, what’s the problem?
This. This is what’s wrong with this formula.
Just to reiterate. Retail these posters cost $60. That one in the middle that’s just red? It runs for about $110 because of it’s variant color scheme. Based on this screenshot alone--and I can assure you there are higher prices than these--these posters are going for nearly 6 times their retail price. This bothers me on so many levels:
First off, consider what this kind of rampant free market capitalism does for people who don’t have a lot of money. Like I said, one of screenprinting’s great selling points is that because it is makes for an easily reproducible poster, its cuts the cost of making these kinds of prints waaaaaay down. Remember that time you were walking around first Thursday in the Pearl District, and you walked into that cool looking art gallery, and you were like, “Oh man, a funny little drawing of a squirrel! That would look so great in my (finds price tag)--$500!” That kind of shit happens constantly in the art world. The one time people are exposed to fine art, they immediately discover that they’re a good 2 or 3 tax brackets away from realistically being able to afford that piece. And that is why this is so subtly fucked up. Screenprinting isn’t supposed to be like this. From 2010 to late 2012 I pretty much didn’t have a job. I was able to afford rent, a little bit of food, and that’s it. I survived mainly on Food Stamps, and always had to watch what I spent money on. Art posters were my one respite. The fact that something so amazingly designed could be as little as $5 was amazing to me. Do people mostly need food/shelter/basic things to live? Of course they fucking do. A person could go their entire lives without knowing this poster existed and be fine, but that’s not the point.
I’m just frustrated. I’m frustrated because for the most part, most of us are just living out our lives occasionally buying a poster/concert ticket/t-shirt/festival pass, and then some shit head decides that people like this stuff enough that he can profit off regular people by buying them all, and selling them at a wildly inflated price. It’s just shitty.
My obvious problem with this aside, I’m very curious if any legal action can be taken, or if this is just how it has to be. The biggest fault in all this is that even if there is some legal precedence to stop inflated poster sales, it would have to be policed by the artist. In this case, Tyler would have to personalize every single poster somehow, maybe by writing a personal message on the back or something like that, and even then it wouldn’t necessarily stop the resale of them. Keep in mind the fact that so many creative types can’t be bothered to do anything else besides their art, or are just ignorant to the outside world. Other than poster artists running across this by chance, there’s nothing I can say to stop it other than chastise resellers, so I think I’ll do that.
To everyone reselling poster art on eBay:
Congrats. You did it. You found a way to leech your scummy, shitting hawking life into something so eclectic, random, and beyond public notice that the only people who will probably ever notice are the ones who care most about it. You’re the equivalent of a small town police officer famous for writing excessive parking tickets because the people who are busy taking care of actual shit in the big city are too busy to monitor your 3rd grade behavior. What a viable career option you’ve discovered. You’re right up there with that one middle aged fuckface who asked for my extra Flaming Lips ticket that I was giving away for free who clearly was just going to hawk it. You guys should have a party with each other where you create false eBay profiles and give each other positive reviews. Go fuck yourself and I hope you die in a tire fire.
I also went to Arcata, CA and performed in the 3rd annual Savage Henry Comedy Festival. It was fun.