FYA @ 6020 Wilshire: In the Good Name of the Company

Posted on: February 21st, 2013

In the Good Name of the Company

February 23-March 23

“Unfortunately we have closed as of December 31, 2012….
We do not have referrals for the unique style of printing we are known for….
Thank you for being wonderful people. Have a good future.”

- Current message on the answering machine from
Glenn Hinman, President of the Colby Poster Printing Company.

Two months after the closing of the Colby Poster Printing Company, ForYourArt announces In the Good Name of the Company, an exhibition of works from the iconic LA print house curated by Jan Tumlir, with Christopher Michlig and Brian Roettinger. “The closing of the Colby Poster Printing Company represents the end of an era. The Colby Posters were handset type, and none of the design or execution was done digitally,” states Bettina Korek, Founder of ForYourArt.

With bold, black typography floating on top of washes of day-glow color, the Colby poster evinced a thrifty pragmatism for more than half a century. These posters were designed to catch the eye of passersby, in cars or on foot, and deliver messages to them as directly as possible. Typically employed to promote neighborhood events such as street fairs, small-scale musical concerts and the like, they would find a new clientele when Ed Ruscha contracted a rival company in 1962 to produce the announcement for the exhibition New Paintings of Common Objects at the Pasadena Art Museum. Since then, the Colby Poster Printing Company has gone on to serve as an important resource to a broad range of LA-based artists, from Allen Ruppersberg (who transcribed Allen Ginsberg’s Howl onto Colby posters in 2003) to Eve Fowler (who did much the same with Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons in 2012).

Perhaps most significantly, the Colby poster has provided artists with a means to escape the confines of the studio or the white cube. Instead, through the poster medium, artists could engage the life of the street. As such, their posters became a form of public art perfectly suited to the LA context with its inherent transience and disposability. In one way or another, the artists featured in this exhibition have used the poster as a means to shape our experience of the street and the city.

In the Good Name of the Company will present works by Kathryn Andrews, Andy Beach, Scott Benzel, Anthony Burrill, Peter Coffin, Cali Thornhill DeWitt, Sam Durant, Daniel Eatock, Eve Fowler, Mathis Gasser, Emilie Halpern, Cody Hudson, Imprenta, Simon Johnston, Eric Junker, Jacob Kassay, Kevin Lyons, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Euan Macdonald, Christopher Michlig, Brian Roettinger, Allen Ruppersberg, Ed Ruscha, Annie Shaw, Alexis Smith, and C. R. Stecyk III, alongside a representative selection of posters from Colby’s own archive.

About the Colby Poster Printing Company

The Los Angeles based Colby Poster Printing Company has long been a friend to local artists. Their fluorescent posters have been disseminated on every available high-traffic-adjacent surface in the city. Their extensive collection of over 150 wood and metal typefaces, usually bold and generally san serif, are by now an integral part of the visual aesthetic of Los Angeles. Throughout the years, posters promoting everything from west coast punk and heavy metal concerts in the 1980s to swap meets, street fairs, gun and bridal shows, local political campaigns, and too many artist projects to mention have been printed on Colby’s restless Heidelberg letterset press. A family owned and operated union print shop since 1948, the Colby Poster Printing Company closed its doors forever on December 31, 2012.