From Hippie Hearthrobs to Relentless Runners: Motivational Posters and Me
By Islay Julen, Operations Manager, Sports Poster Warehouse
I never bought a poster – sports or otherwise – when the craze hit in the 60’s. Yes, unfortunately, I do remember that far back, when it seemed you could find a poster shop on every block, alongside a record store or head shop!
Nevertheless, the psychedelic, Day-Glo poster art of that era (some of it now worth thousands) did appeal to me. How could it not? The likenesses of Davy Jones, the Beatles and countless other heartthrobs of the moment were immortalized in life-size images that stared out from the walls of rec rooms and bedrooms in the homes of virtually all my friends. But because money was in short supply during my growing-up years, whatever I earned went for other objects of my affection – make-up, love beads, and the like.
Back then, as well, I didn’t exactly see myself becoming an employee of the world’s largest online retailer of sports posters early in the new millennium. This is not to say that I didn’t fall in love with the job, because I did. Part of the reason for that, I suppose, was the way the job and its link to sports dove-tailed so nicely with other changes then going on in my life. I had surprised everyone, especially myself, by becoming an avid distance runner, after years of refusing to do anything that made for perspiration! In the process, I emerged as the cliché convert, proselytizing anyone who’d listen on the joys of running and physical fitness.
The first poster I ever purchased was for my partner, Stephen. That piece of wall art, titled Winter Running, features a sentiment that we whole-heartedly share – “The air may chill, the snow may fall, but the runner’s passion never cools.” Winter running, you’ve gotta do it to love it!
My second poster was for my special “Running Room” (otherwise known as the den) at home. Long ago I became addicted to those shiny participation medals handed out at races and wanted to show them off to family and friends. So my partner and I mounted them (with other race paraphernalia) in shadow boxes on the four walls of our one-room running retreat. To pull the display together, we needed a “statement piece.” So up on one wall went a poster called, Sharing the Passion, depicting a couple running together at sunset.
Then, last year, I gave a poster to a young man whom I had the pleasure of spending some time with during the previous summer. He had run with his father, grandfather, and me in his first race ever – a 5K – and came in second in his age group. This, I thought, was clearly poster-worthy. So back at work I found the perfect running poster, duly delivered it to him and enjoyed the smile it brought to his face. Challenge Running was a great hit. So for Christmas, Steve Prefontaine, one of America’s legendary short-distance runners, featured on one of our posters found it was into the Christmas packages under their tree. Not wanting his sister, an avid swimmer on her varsity team, to be left out, I picked out Destiny Lies Ahead. She beamed (I thought) and it now graces her bedroom wall.
Now I’m in full poster giveaway mode. I found the perfect poster for the next run those three great guys (the young man, his father, and grandfather) will be running together. The poster – “Winners”, featuring three people running together, away from the camera into the sunrise – will tickle me when they all sign it, and I have it mounted for preservation.
Do some of my family and friends think I go too far? Do they consider my running walls cheesy? Probably. My joy in finding a passion knows no bounds, and for this I am willing to put up with huge amounts of ribbing. Motivational posters are my new best friend, so be careful. If I know you, I’ll probably find a perfect one for you sooner or later, pop it into a tube and send it your way.