As I roam restlessly through the coffee shops of Austin (and it’s wall to wall coffee shops), I can’t keep my eyes off the poster covered walls (everywhere but in the soulless corporate wasteland of Starbucks) where a remarkable and ever-changing selection of posters showcase some of the most interesting and creative art in the city. With all the theaters and night clubs and other entertainment venues in the city it’s a great working environment for poster artists and those who like to observe their work.
Admittedly, there’s a lot of generic dross to wade through while looking for creative gold, but every week or two I do find something interesting. The trick is the timing. It wouldn’t be right to snatch up a poster before the event it’s advertising takes place, so I have to spot the poster and then make sure I come back and get it right after it expires but before a bored barrista notices that it’s out of date and takes it down, consigning it to a dumpster of doom. This fall’s harvest was rich in brightly colored cartoon-style posters, and I managed to add thee of the best to my collection.
Two of my finds came from the Thunderbird coffee house on Manor Road, east of the University of Texas. It’s too crowded, but they serve a fine selection of beers and decent sandwiches in addition to coffee so they’re worth a visit. My first find there was a fun poster for Threadgill‘s Armadillo Showdown, a show featuring some popular local bands. The font choices are predictable, but the illustration of a gunslinging Armadillo is a lot of fun. It’s not quite up to the quality level of the art that you could find on Threadgill’s posters back in the 70s, but it’s nice to see them continuing their musical and poster traditions. Weirder and even more fun was a poster I found in that same visit for a multi-band show at a club called Red7. The artist for this poster must be a child of the 90s because the art looks like some of the creepy alternative eastern European animation which dominated Cartoon Network in the post-Rugrats era.
The final find to round out my set of comics-style posters was found at Fricano’s Deli which is basically a pizza and sandwich shop in the north campus area, but not to be confused with the similarly named pizza chain in Michigan. Fricanos does a different poster every year for their anniversary party and I couldn’t resist their Fantastic Four themed poster from this year’s celebration so I had to beg one from them.