GLOSSARY OF TERMS
I use the term ‘glossary’ loosely in this section, as the following is simply an information dump to help you, the poster collector, in learning more about posters, and particularly how to avoid some of the pitfalls. I have deliberately NOT presented this glossary in alphabetical order, and I will expand this section with more information as time goes on.
PROMO POSTER – A poster created by a record company to promote the issue of a forthcoming release of an artist or a tour or gig. While intended solely for short-term promotional purposes, promo posters have been collectable ever since the birth of popular music. Posters up to the late 1960’s were largely bland affairs with little more than text describing what was being promoted, and while being collectable for historic purposes, have little artistic value. Progressions in sleeve art and the birth of psychedelic posters in the late 1960’s turned the record sleeve and promotional poster into a desirable piece of art. Graphic design has gone from strength to strength since the 1970’s and this is why I collect promo posters and is why this website exists.....
TEASER POSTER – A teaser poster is an official record company promo poster used to attract a person’s attention without giving any information on what is being promoted. It usually has no information on the release, and sometimes no information on who the artist is. It is often (though not always) replaced a week or so later with another poster providing the full details of the release (see Bjork’s ‘Post’, Pulp’s ‘Common People’ and James’ ‘She’s a Star’ for good examples of teaser posters). Some posters even have two teaser posters before the final poster is issued, Primal Scream’s ‘Kowalski’ posters are a good example of this.
LITHOGRAPHIC PRINT – These are usually one-off official prints created to commemorate an event or gig by an artist and are printed for collectors and fans of that particular artist. For good examples, see the Stone Roses 2012 gig lithographs and the Prodigy’s Milton Keynes gig lithographs. Lithographic printing involves the mutual repulsion between oil and water (see Wikipedia for full process), and I don’t know how closely music promo lithographs adhere to the processes of true lithography. However, lithographic prints are easy to identify on the basis that they are printed on thick matted paper, with rich colours and are usually part of a numbered limited edition run. I love ‘em!
OFFICIALLY LICENCED (COMMERCIAL) POSTERS – There are companies whose business it is to print posters for fans, and had exclusive licenses to print images on behalf of a record company or photographer. These companies proliferated in the 1970’s when posters became popular and would usually print images of the band in a studio or in concert. Examples of these companies in the 1970’s are Pace, Europrints Ltd and Scandecor. As time went by these companies gained exclusive rights to print licenced versions of promo posters, the best example was A Bigger Splash who had the rights to print some of the classic images by Manchester bands such as James, Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses. Other companies include Pyramid Posters, GB Posters, and Bazaar. These posters are not original record company promo posters and they were mass produced, however, some are still collectable due to having the sole right to print an image, the best examples are the Happy Mondays tour posters that A Bigger Splash had the sole licence for.
COUNTERFEIT / FAKE POSTERS – Counterfeit posters are those posters that are printed to look like the original item, and to fool buyers into believing they are the genuine article. No-one (including myself) is immune to being fooled by a fake, see the forthcoming section on Fakes and Bootlegs for more information.
BOOTLEG POSTERS – Bootleg posters are no more desirable than fakes, however, bootleg posters are generally printed to sell to music fans on a budget. They don’t claim to be the official product, and are usually easy to identify, print quality is usually very good, but not up to the high standard of official posters. Most bootleg posters are printed to sell outside concert venues by ‘genetically challenged’ individuals. Furthermore, I sigh when I see unscrupulous sellers on Ebay trying so sell old bootlegs as original promo posters, see the forthcoming section on Fakes and Bootlegs for advice on how to avoid buying these.
CINDERELLA POSTERS - These are posters usually created by sellers on Ebay selling fantasy gig posters, with designs created by the sellers themselves. They will research a particular tour that a band may have done, and print a poster for each tour venue/date using the same design. There is another type of Cinderella poster, a seller currently on ebay invents 'fantasy' promo posters for many punk and indie releases, these look like reprints of original record company promo posters, but they are cleverly designed posters using images cropped and compiled to mimic the type of poster that record companies would design. These posters tread a fine line between being an 'artistic' poster and a counterfeit poster. In years to come these Cinderella posters will cause big problems for novice poster collectors who will think that they are original promo posters, whereby much money will be exchanged and many tears will be shed...
RE-PRINTS (OFFICIAL) – Sometimes a record company will do a print run of an original promo poster to celebrate an anniversary of a record release, good examples are the 30th Anniversary re-prints for The Stranglers’ ‘Rattus Norvegicus’ album and the Sex Pistols ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ album. These reprints are usually slightly smaller than the original poster to stop unscrupulous sellers trying to pass it off as an original.
RE-PRINTS (UNOFFICIAL) – Ebay is littered with listings for new prints or re-prints of original posters, or worse, digital scans of original magazine adverts. These are invariably home-produced, usually of questionable quality, and it beats me why anyone would pay good money for these, at least magazine ad cuttings (see below) are good quality images. What does irritate me is that some sellers of unofficial re-prints are quite devious on how they advertise these, often describing them as if they are the real thing, and mentioning that they are re-prints in small print right at the bottom.
MAGAZINE AD / MATTED POSTER – Any person who searches for posters these days on Ebay will be inundated with listings selling ‘poster ads’ or ‘matted posters’ which are simply magazine cuttings of an advert promoting a new release. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with these, why people would want to buy A4 (or smaller) size pictures out of a magazine baffles me. But there you are....
GRAPHIC DESIGNER – The graphic designer is the person who either designs the poster (or record sleeve) outright, or translates the artist’s ideas into the final product, they are usually the unsung heroes who can create band’s image beyond what the artists’ physically look like. Refer to the forthcoming section that I will be compiling on my favourite Graphic Designers.
More terminology to come......