THE BEGINNING

Posters are an integral part of growing up. From the airbrushed red Ferrari to the ‘Take Me To Your Dealer’ alien, they’re the best way of marking your teenage territory without resorting to piss.

floodgallery

THE TRUE ART OF THE GIG POSTER COMES TO GREENWICH, LONDON

Posters are an integral part of growing up. From the airbrushed red Ferrari to the ‘Take Me To Your Dealer’ alien, they’re the best way of marking your teenage territory without resorting to piss. They tell our friends what we like and our parents what they should be worried about us liking, and it’s never long before the Testarossas and the advocation of soft drugs are dropped for some band or another that look or sound good.

Band posters fall clearly into two very different camps – the commercial-band-promo-photo-and-logo camp, and the bespoke-lovingly-inked-and-printed camp. The former resides on the wet night floor outside your local thousand-seat venue, next to the girl’s tees that are now only a fiver. They’re ripe for your wall as they are – just sling ‘em up. The latter deserve to be bought sober and framed, and while they’re harder to find, a new gallery called Flood – in Greenwich, London – has made it a little easier.

Displaying and selling screen-printed poster art from around the world, The Flood Gallery is the new project of local enthusiast Chris Marksberry and designer Tom Warner, inspired by two trips to Flatstock – an annual exhibition of poster art held at Austin showcase SxSW. Marksberry first came across the show in 2008, only to revisit it earlier this year. On his return he started to put The Flood Gallery together, lining the walls of his Greenwich Market space with colourful prints that once promoted shows for everyone from Sonic Youth and Arcade Fire to No Age and REM.

“Gig posters mean different things to different people,” explains Warner. “Some people want a cool memento from a great show they went to, others are just fans of the bands featured in the posters, and then (maybe a little more surprisingly) some people don’t even know who the bands are, they just appreciate them as great pieces of design. Fundamentally, that’s what they are, just great pieces of graphic design.”

It’s the quality of the illustrations on sale at Flood that is instantly striking, rather than the names of the bands that first commissioned them. Fortunately though, because this style of expressive design was forged in the fires of early DIY, a vast majority of acts still opting for limited screen-print runs over mass-produced, lazer-jet-ed posters remain highly credible – the best of both worlds: a Mudhoney poster beautiful enough to frame before you hang it.

“A lot of what makes our posters special is the process used to print them,” says Warner. “Ninety percent of artists screen print their work by hand, which not only opens things up creatively but also enables them to keep run sizes low. It means that posters can be printed in limited edition, numbered runs, making them collectible. You’re not buying a one-of-a-kind piece of art, but then you’re also not buying a mass produced poster; they sit somewhere in the middle – collectible, yet affordable.”

Flood trades in movie posters too, but again, not the type you liberate from Odeon on your way home. As Warner explains, America’s independent cinemas have taken note of alt. music promoters, commissioning new interpretations of classic film posters for special screenings.

“Our aim is pretty simple,” he says, “to bring a selection of the best contemporary gig and movie posters from around the world to London, and offer people the chance to own some of it.”

By Stuart Stubbs

Originally published in issue 31 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. September 2011.

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