A Rare Treat- The Posters of David Lance Goines

January 7, 2011 § 4 Comments

As a poster dealer for 14 years, I have given a lot of thought to what drove the poster artists who created the work I sell every day.  This year, I have had the rare treat of getting to know David Lance Goines, who has been creating successful posters for 40 years.  This is the only time I have had the pleasure of hearing first hand (and reading) the philosophy that guides the practice of creating graphic art.  A summary of Goines’ principles and practices follows, interspersed with some commentary about how his beliefs fit in with the history of the poster.

We will be honored to host David Lance Goines in our showroom on January 16, 2011 from 2-5pm for a book signing.


The Purpose of a Poster

“My job is to get your attention and keep it long enough for the message to get across.” Says Goines in the Introduction to David Lance Goines Posters 1970-1994.  “You don’t need to be interested in the product or service to enjoy looking at the poster.”

Goines message echoes what we at VEPCA say when we explain Cappiello.  Cappiello began creating posters after Cheret, Lautrec and Mucha had shaped the medium.  They created beautiful images, soft and detailed.  Cappiello’s revolutionary style utilized single figures popping out of dark backgrounds which served  to grab the viewer and communicate instantly a brand. It’s not surprising that Goines grasps the function of the poster- he is still working, and he is still producing beautiful images, as good as those he created 20 years ago, or 40 years ago.  You can say the very same thing about Cappiello! He produced phenomenal posters for 39 years- and his last poster “Mossant” is a masterpiece.  These two artists share a freshness and a longevity that other graphic artists are hard pressed to match.

The Audience & The Artist

In response to question about commercial art vs. fine art in the Introduction to Goines Posters (published in 1985 by Alphabet Press) Goines says: “The first thing that comes to mind is the major difference  between  who the fine artist must please, and who the commercial artist must please…..The fine artist must please only himself….The commercial artist…must please himself, the client and the great god public, or  he’s out of business.”

Later in the interview Goines goes on to say “I call myself a printer, a graphic designer or a graphic artist.”  and ” A commercial artist is a class of skilled laborer”

Different from many graphic artists, Goines actually prints his own posters on a press he has owned, maintained and operated since 1966.  The process is painstaking utilizing as many as twelve color plates, and demanding that each color dry for a day before the next is printed.

Local History

Goines posters are indelibly woven in to Bay Area History, as Cheret’s posters are to fin du siecle Paris and Cappielllo’s to the gay 20s.  His clients include Berkeley icons  Chez Panisse, The Pacific Film Archive, Acme Bread, Berkeley Horticultural Nursery, The Berkeley Farmer’s Market, and Peets Coffee.  We are very proud to have our inaugural event at our Berkeley showroom feature someone so tied in with the area’s history.

Print Runs, signed copies, reproductions, availability and market value

Most Goines posters were printed by the artist in runs between 1200 and 3600.  The artist maintains records of each run.  ” I print the number of posters requested by the client, plus a comfortable margin for disaster, plus about 500 for my own use….Of the posters printed I sign 326; three hundred numbered and 26 lettered a-z as artists proofs.”

It isa harder than you might think to find some of Goines posters today.  This is because like the VEP collection, these posters weren’t meant to be saved, they were advertisements.  People tacked them up in their apartments and threw them away when they moved.  Some Goines posters which are now out of circulation are valued today at $3500.  Signed posters are valued at double the price of unsigned.  The artist himself insists that his posters were meant to be used.  “Graphic work is different from fine art.  I expect to be treated a bit roughly.   Things that don’t have to look good, look good longer.  Think of my work as a pair of blue jeans.  They’re meant for everyday use.  If they get dirty, it’s okay. The dirt probably won’t show anyhow.  As they fade, or get frayed or torn, they might even look better than when they were new.  The older they get, the more comfortable they get.  Of course you can’t wear blue jeans to the opera, but I’ll let someone else deign evening wear.” From the preface of “The Poster Art of David Lance Goines, a 40 Year Retrospective.” printed 2010 by Dover Books.

We have a small number of original Goines posters in stock, a few signed.  We have access to many more, so please inquire about availability if you find a favorite among the artist’s oeuvre.

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§ 4 Responses to A Rare Treat- The Posters of David Lance Goines

  • Paul Pepperman says:

    Do you have any signed THE POSTER ART OF DLG books available for purchase?

  • I stumbled upon a lovely David Goines “Chez Panisse Fourth Birthday” poster at a resale store in Texas and hungrily snagged it up. The seller was unfamiliar, and I was giddy with my find (and purchase price). It says DG056 so I’m assuming that it’s one of the first 100. Unfortunately there is just a tiny bit of water damage in the bottom right corner. Otherwise it has been perfectly kept in frame.

  • Robert Scott says:

    I inheirited a few signed & dated David Goines Posters. “Davis Library Assoc. 160/300 1985; UCSF – 121/300 1987; UC School of Optometry 52/300 1979. Where would I find a market for these posters?

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