Art Valet-Old Band Poster.jpeg

Pictured is a 1996 band poster for Lips & The Trips and the late Sean Walters at Dan Electros, 1031 E. 24th St. (Photo by Carolyn Coates)

First of all, I’m not boasting when I say I’ve always had a love and possibly a knack for marketing. On the other hand, I’m bemoaning it a little, too.

Seriously, though, this will be short and funny, so read on.

My first foray (age 7) into the world of advertising landed me in hot water with my friends' mothers for taking their not-so-hard-earned allowance in exchange for plagiarized renderings of a guy named Schultz’s cartoon characters.

Emboldened, the following year my depiction of a certain natural bodily function with one descriptive word did not amuse anyone over the age of 8. I was swiftly reprimanded and sent home to ponder my grievance. I had found a captive audience with my peers, though, and I was hooked!

Marketing in one form or another seems to have touched my life continuously since my first excursion as a little “Mad Men” guy.

Today, I was cleaning out an old box of things and ran across a band poster from the '90s. Musicians were the best at marketing their bands. They would scrap together all the details with a photo, run off a gazillion copies, and post those fliers wherever they could. Telephone poles, fences, phone booths (look that up, young people), bulletin boards and, of course, restrooms in every club in town were all fair game. You could get a brief band history of recent performances by just lifting a corner here or there to see who played last.

I followed suit when I started my first market. I painted a big purple flower, used a new-to-me font called papyrus (the most used font in the history of the human race) and proceeded to hang my posters everywhere.

I also learned how to write press releases and they quickly became my new poster. Imagine, though, having to come up with a new angle for an event every month. That was hard! So the posters morphed into postcards. That way the artists attending the market could hand them out, too. My one-piece band expanded many times over with all that help.

What is the big deal now, you may be asking? If you’re reading this on a phone or tablet, you may have guessed already. The internet, and social media. It’s insane trying to get people’s attention! Don’t even get me started on the holidays … oh dang, that is now.

In Houston there must be thousands of events every week. We’re bombarded from every direction and trying to figure out where people are turning and getting my information on the various platforms, websites, social media services and email lists is more time-consuming than putting posters up all over town!

Paper flyers were easy. Hand them out and you’re done. I still use them, but now I’m trying to get the artists to help with social media.

I can only imagine the glazed-over eyes of the artists when I tried to explain to them how to tag, to “check-in” and the proper use of hashtags. Just getting through to them was a hurdle - email, text message and, of course, social media.

I am old enough to remember finding my way around, friends, bands and parties before mobile phones. I have no idea how we did it but it seems to have worked out OK.

Let’s try it. I’ll draw you a picture, pass it on, and I’ll meet you there!

Cohen is an artist and founder of the First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at for additional highlights and artist’s stories.

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