The art of the attention-grabbing flyer has a history almost as old as entertainment itself, but there are few genres that are as boundary crossing as that of punk rock. Sam Atakra, a record-label owner and formerly employed by the Freemasons in Santa Fe, N. M., can attest to that.
While cleaning his house, Atakra came across a massive collection of flyers and was shocked to find that no place on Facebook was serving as a repository for these hallowed pieces of Americana. To rectify this, he started the International Punk Rock Flyer Archive
, a group whose collection of images already tops 4,000.
Detroit is well-represented in the collection, as are California and England. Few Houston acts have found a place in the archive thus far, save for contributions from KPFT DJ and all-around punk den mother Heather Fails. It'd be nice if The Hates, 10th Grade Cutie, This Year's Tiger and others would donate to the site and prove that Houston doesn't lack the pop-art capabilities shown by the rest of the U.S.
Many national acts like Social Distortion, G G Allin, and Butthole Surfers are surprisingly represented not only with their high-end flyers, but also by hand sketched and more DIY works.
"Even if a nationally well known touring act gets an artist with a name behind them, often times the supporting local bands will still make their own flyers for the same shows," says Atakra. "It's not rare for a single show to have two or more flyers or promotional posters for a single appearance."
The purpose of these is of course to promote the acts, and as you cannot yet hear a band on a piece of paper stapled to a telephone pole (Note: We said "yet.") Artists struggle to find either the perfect image embodying who they are and what they do; barring that, they do something so mind-blowing that you can't help but pay attention.
The Inertnational Punk Rock Flyer Archive is not only an online musuem of advertising, but also a history of exactly what it takes to get people to come to your show. Rocks Off has spent two hours there already, and it hasn't been boring once.