Gig is up
Rock City Posters
For many music lovers, when recollecting their favorite albums, thoughts of the music are often accompanied by images of the album cover. And sometimes memories of favorite concerts are accompanied by memories of gig posters—or the wall-mounted gig poster is a reminder of a great concert experience.
A new, soon-to-open Reno business will explore the connection between music and visual art. It’s called Rock City Posters, a store and gallery featuring original screen-printed concert posters.
“This is an alliance that has gone from the very beginning,” said Scotty Roller, the proprietor of Rock City Posters. “Bands have friendships with fine artists and illustrators. … I think even at a local level, artists that are up-and-coming make friends with fine artists. Find ones you like and hire them up. It’s a strong friendship that needs to keep budding. People need to remind themselves that all art is somehow intertwined. When you find an artist you want to work with, it makes your band stronger, and it makes that artist stronger.”
Roller is known around the community as a musician, the guitarist and vocalist in the Saddle Tramps and Them Sonsabitches, and for Scotty Roller Designs, his company that makes original screen print posters like the ones he’ll sell in the new shop. He has made original posters for local and national venues and bands. Scotty Roller Designs will now be based in Rock City Posters, but the shop will be stocked with hundreds of posters by dozens of artists from all over the world.
“It’s not just regional American advertising art anymore,” said Roller. “There are posters from all over the UK, Germany. We’ve got stuff coming from Mexico. I have it coming from everywhere.”
He buys posters directly from the artists themselves, which helps keep down prices and ensure authenticity in a business often corrupted by bootleggers.
In addition to the posters, Roller plans to sell some rock concert photos, including some by former RN&R staff photographer David Robert. There will also be listening stations sporting records by acts featured in nearby posters. The shop will feature a small lounge and gallery type area, and offer framing services. But the focus will be on the gig posters, most of which will be in the $20 to $70 range. Although the word “rock” is in the name of the business, the shop will sell posters by artists from many different genres. The shop already has posters from Snoop Dogg, Slayer and many others.
Roller said he can also help customers track down specific gig posters from specific concerts.
“At that point we’re like art detectives, trying to figure out who did it, how many there were, how valuable it is,” he said.
The store will be on Virginia Street, central in Midtown, next door to the Chocolate Walrus, across the street from the Antique Mall, not far from Junkee Clothing Exchange, Nevada Fine Arts and Recycled Records. It’s an ideal location for a business that stands to benefit from window-gazing foot traffic.
What does Roller think makes a good gig poster?
“Well, art is subjective, so there’s no right or wrong answer, but I think ultimately, first and foremost is craftsmanship,” he said. “Whatever the imagery, it should be done well. Secondly, the concept of the gig poster should illustrate the band or a theme that the band portrays themselves.”
For example, one poster in Rock City depicts a long braid, a cowboy hat with a Texas Ranger star and a marijuana leaf. Even without the name on the poster, it recognizably represents country icon Willie Nelson.