As concerts and events started to get cancelled because of the pandemic, the posters on the utility poles downtown started to dwindle — but not for long.
“The downtown at the very beginning of [the pandemic] was so bleak. All the storefronts were shut down and boarded up,” says Steve Webb, CEO of Metropol Industries Inc. “So to be able to throw a little bit of colour up there and some positive messages for people … we just wanted to put some art up for the sake of just putting art out.”
Webb has been in the “gig poster” industry for 17 years, and says what drew him to postering was the art and “how cool they all looked.”
“So we figured, all these people who used to create these gig posters, I mean, they’re still making artwork,” he says. “So why don’t we just ask them if they’d like us to just put [their art] out there.”
The utility poles now bring an open-air art gallery to the streets of Victoria.
More than 100 posters have been submitted to Metropol, which are now being rotated around the city’s poles.
“A few people said they’d never had their artwork displayed anywhere and so quite a few people saw it as an opportunity to get something out there in the world,” he says.
Metropol Industries covered the cost of printing the posters for the artists and Webb got back to his “roots” by putting up the posters up himself after having to let go of a number of staff members.
“[It was] a bit of a step down from you know, CEO to the poster guy again, but I think it just helped me wrap my head around the whole pandemic thing,” he says, adding that he goes out to post posters every two or three days.
Artists can still submit their work for a chance to be featured on a Victoria utility pole by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.