David Pricco encountered a problem while hunting for posters to put up in his Isla Vista bedroom a few years ago. A former student at UCSB, Pricco explained, “Part of my personality is, I don’t really like cliches.” A few years later, Pricco is now in business with friend Ian Cox, producing posters from the artworks that you don’t see on every dorm room wall.
Pricco, who graduated with a degree in economics and business, and Cox, who was a psychology major, went about accumulating a portfolio of around 100 willing artists, even conducting a scientifically designed survey to rank which posters people preferred and which they would buy. “We thought the publishers would be ecstatic,” said Pricco. “But they were totally uninterested. They just didn’t care.” When they eventually gave up and started publishing and distributing the posters themselves, Pricco and Cox decided that intent-to-buy surveys were indeed worthless.
As it turns out, their best-seller among the college crowd is a piece by Jonathan Tiu called Space Bear and the Dinosaur, which also depicts some tiny army guys, kind of like toy soldiers come to life. Outside of the Ferrari-Scarface-hot chick poster niche, Pricco explained, “Nostalgia and childishness are a big theme among college students.”
Posters for Humans (they initially called themselves Cliche Posters but, “discovered that ironic names with French spellings were not a good business idea”) has a small handful of local artists in their portfolio but experienced much more success recruiting artists from online, who are readier for scanning, processing, and even licensing agreements. The latter are one of the biggest obstacles, even though Pricco and Cox think that they offer an excellent deal, splitting the net profits 50/50, though at this point that’s about the same as half of nothing. “The art licensing books all say licensors are going to screw you,” Pricco said, but he hopes to earn the trust of local artists and says he is “about halfway there” in reeling in several more. Meanwhile, keep your eye out for a couple of humble art dealers hungrily scarfing cheese at the gallery openings.
A show featuring selected posters opened this Monday, September 15, at Muddy Waters Cafe (508 E. Haley St.), and there’s a reception planned for Saturday, September 20.