The Lost Art of Show Posters

Do bands still need show posters?

I asked myself that question this morning after seeing one taped to a light pole. I stopped and looked at it for a minute, and took a picture. I’ve become so accustomed to seeing them, that I didn’t even look at them anymore. I felt compelled to go and look for more posters stapled and taped to utility poles.

I started my trek in downtown Eugene on 13th and Olive and walked straight to campus. This is just over ¾ of a mile (1207 meters). I figured I would see dozens of posters. I saw one! Yeah, just one. I walked past several restaurants and bars and did see a few show posters in windows, but they were all for upcoming Christmas themed shows. On the way back I meandered a bit and I still did not find any show posters. I saw a few LOST PET posters though 🙁.

Entering from stage left, Social Media.

I think social media has replaced the utility pole for these kinds of notifications. It’s not the same though; a friend has a friend who has a show at a club you haven’t been to before, what are the odds you will actually go? With all of the Facebook invites flowing through the internet, there is plenty of opportunity for a local band’s show to go unnoticed. I get event events from all over the country. So, I am afraid I don’t give most invites a 100% of my attention.

Imagine if you will, a random Friday evening after work and you’re heading out to catch up with friends, and you see a cool show poster advertising a show at a nearby bar or a pub. There is a chance you might go, especially if it’s the evening of. This has happened to me at least a dozen times over the years. That doesn’t happen on Facebook.

I think that a band still needs a nice a poster for their show, it gets attention. The graphics need to be designed for the platform they are presented on though. You want to get the viewer’s attention at first glance. This is not always the case though.

Facebook has image dimension specs for every section of their platform. This includes event invites. Often I see events come across my feed with an image that doesn’t really look right. This is usually because the event creator is working with an image that does not fall within that Facebook event image specification. They are usually working from an image designed inside the poster format of 11×17 (A3 for my European friends.). Facebook events currently use a horizontal image measured at 784px×295px.

Show posters are here to stay, now what?

I think bands and promoters are making posters to hang around town, but perhaps they are saving for window displays and not running around town with a staple-gun. Guys like Showdeer are still making stunning posters. If the poster is nice, people will grab them off the wall at the venue and take them home. Bigger acts are printing up posters and selling them at merch table. I love poster art and I’d like to see more.

The digital age is changing the way shows are marketed.

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If bands use online Social Media for promotion, they should learn how to use those different platforms effectively. The extra work is going to keep a band’s graphics department busy. Keeping up with all of the different specs is a full-time job, but I think it pays off. When fans and soon-to-be fans see that you’re trying, they will appreciate the effort.

Maybe a band doesn’t want to make a poster for a house show, but they should put the effort in a show poster and post it up around town on bulletin boards. You can’t put all your eggs in one digital basket.

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