The Artists Behind Some of the Most Cliched Dorm Posters


Do you ever think about how different the college experience would be today? Maybe we’re aging ourselves here, but just the thought of taking notes on a laptop — or an iPad! — is mind boggling to us old-fashioned spiral notebook types. Well, we’ve surveyed the slightly younger generation, and apparently not much has changed as far as college dorm decorations are concerned. You’ve gotta be kidding. Well, alright. Let’s hit up some dorm rooms and delve into the (still) most cliched and popular posters and the art therein. Girls! Van Gogh! And other usual suspects! Which ones did you have? ‘Fess up.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night, guys. It’s so “trippy” and calming in its familiarity, isn’t it? Resist. The least you could do is go for a framed Starry puzzle, so it looks like you put some work into it. Or a Dr. Who remix. Something. Please.

This iconic photograph by Arthur Sasse only exists because it was Einstein’s 72nd birthday and he was really tired of posing for photos, so he stuck his tongue out in semi-frustration. But go ahead and use it to say to yourself that scientists just want to have fun. Look how fun he is. Homework? Bah. Party, man. Party.

Remember freshman year, when you were dating that girl from the Lib Arts department who had just watched Chelsea Girls and gotten the idea that she was going to transfer to any college in New York and find the next Factory and it was going to be so awesome? You’ve got trails of foil from the Andy Warhol-themed party and this poster to remember her by. I hear she switched to a Business Management major.

That was one lucky shot, alright, as Neil Leifer captured the Muhammad Ali (Vs. Sonny Liston) knockout, just after Ali knocks out his opponent in the first round and briefly swipes his fist triumphantly across his chest. Victory on your wall! Very inspirational, yes. Unless you’re having a bad day and relating to Liston.

No, it’s not from Inception. It’s not called “Crazy Stairs.” It’s called Relativity. It was M. C. Escher’s 114th birthday earlier this week. Damn. It’s old. Good for daydreaming though.

This is Théophile Steinlen’s advertisement for a 19th-century touring cabaret, but your dorm room is not a 19th-century cabaret in the bohemian Montmartre district of Paris. Or maybe, it is. Maybe you’re sexy and delightfully archaic and those Toulouse-Lautrec posters on the other side of the room substantiate that theory. Alright then.

Popular still are any bastardizations of the original version of Shepard Fairey’s Andre the Giant “inspired” OBEY poster, including, but not limited to BALLET and OY VEY.

Behold, the “back catalogue.” Apologies. “It took us forever to paint the girls,” says Storm Thorgerson, the artist behind Pink Floyd’s iconic album covers. “They had to be still for five or six hours.” Thorgerson alleges that it was for the sake of “uniformity” that only women were used in this Tony May photo. OK, sure.

Fashion photographer Tanya Chalkin’s pretty femme KISS is one of the best-selling posters of all time, bro. According to her website, the “iconic image” has even inspired a film adaptation that’s currently in the works.

Not only is this Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss a lot more impressive to potential overnight dorm guests than the Tanya Chalkin, it was also in a dorm room on “The Freshmen” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer!