The National Poster Retrospecticus

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By: Alexis Gonzaludo

The Radford University Art Museum will be hosting the National Poster Retrospecticus (NPR) from Sept. 8 to Oct. 7. The NPR is a traveling poster show that exhibits the handmade poster aesthetic. JP Boneyard, or John Boilard, is the NPR producer and gave the opening lecture in the Covington Center Performance Hall. He shared with the audience his personal backstory, insights he’s gained throughout his life and the significance of what the NPR stands for.

Boilard should have died doing the dumb stuff he used to do. He grew up in the small town of Palmer, MA as a kid with a lot of energy and not much to do for fun. Nor did he have much parental supervision from his mother who worked two jobs to earn a living. This combination of elements allowed for him to be quite the trouble maker. Boilard ended up in a Scared Straight program as a teenager and, true to its name, the program served as a catalyst for him to reevaluate the choices he’d been making in life. He knew he would have to work hard to improve his situation, but he decided that “work” was going to be defined on his own terms.

This was the beginning of a path that would lead him to putting on shows in his mom’s backyard shed. He and his friends established a vibrant community connected by a love for loud music and good vibes. Boilard, who had once been written off as a troubled youth who’d be dead at 20, was building a portfolio through a range of duties he performed for the shows that included securing bigger venues, reaching out to bands and creating promotional posters and websites.

His work putting on music shows led to the creation of his first poster show, The Western Massachusetts Flyer Retrospecticus, which is what laid the groundwork for putting on the NPR a few years later. The success of the tour has grown over the past couple years. It includes more artists and posters than ever, but it’s a balancing act. Boilard had to make the tough decision to leave a job he really liked at the IBM Mobile Innovation Lab in order to fully dive into his passion of touring the NPR around the country. Eventually he began to have second thoughts about winding down the touring to focus on his design career. But Boilard wanted to live with integrity, so he decided to lean in to the problem and fully commit to his job as a “full-time poster jockey”.

He admits that he gets the credit for this show, but collaboration is truly what makes it all possible. His friend Brian Buccaroni was at the event assisting him. To get an idea of what it takes to make the NPR happen, just for the show at Radford the two of them spent 18 hours on the road and nearly eight hours in total setting up the show. That’s not to mention the cost of shipping crates full of posters when they have to fly to a show location.

At the end of his lecture, Boilard emanates gratitude, “It feels like a blessing to have a passion project become a full time job, but I can’t lie it does not happen overnight.” If you’re someone like Boilard who has found a passion they want to pursue, then the words of advice he offered at the lecture are something to keep in mind: remain flexible and have patience with the process, work hard and have faith in the outcome and if it doesn’t work out feel glad that you had integrity.

To follow Boilard and Buccaroni as they travel North America with the NPR, you can find them on Instagram at @jpboneyard and @brianbuccaroni. The NPR is a passion project and therefore takes a lot of money to produce and doesn’t earn all that much in return. The Fifty-Nine Parks Print series is a stunning set of prints that showcases some of the country’s national parks. It’s truly eye candy for nature lovers. Find out more about this series by following them on Instagram at @fiftynineparks. Five percent of every online poster sale is donated to the National Park Service.