Glen Trosch is a man who knows a lot about a lot of things, but his first true love is music. Beginning when he was just a boy, Trosch – the owner of Psychedelic Art Exchange – was indoctrinated by the classics: The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and the Grateful Dead. Trosch eventually took that endearing love of music, the personal connection we all develop with it, and the unparalleled emotion of experiencing it live and turned it into his career.
Psychedelic Art Exchange, founded over 15 years ago by Trosch is the result of that passion and is now considered one of the world’s premier locations for collectors to procure vintage concert posters, rare books, magazines, and other collectibles.
Trosch agreed to answer a series of questions for GoCollect about his origin and background in the hobby, what kind of music he loves, and what to look for if you are just getting started collecting vintage concert posters.
Readers of GoCollect will be very familiar with origin stories. What is your origin story with concert posters, with Psychedelic Art Exchange, and with the hobby in general? Was this always something you wanted to do or is something that materialized over time while you had a different career?
My passion for rock posters has evolved over the years. I recall my first poster was an oversized head-shop poster of Jimi Hendrix. I was around 13 years old and had completed my Beatles education and Jimi appeared larger than life… the coolest guy ever to play guitar. Concert posters crept in slowly; the first San Francisco poster I bought was one of the BG 105 mirrors made by Winterland Productions.
My first real poster score was a Weather Report Globe poster I grabbed when they played in Baltimore in ‘78. The real game started in 1983 when I walked into Ben Freidman’s Postermat on Columbus in San Francisco for the first time. It was the Year the Grateful Dead had their New Year’s Run in the city at the Civic Center. Total bliss: San Francisco, The Dead, and 1960s posters.
I grew up in a family business that was sold around the end of the century. Collectibles were always strong in my blood so when I found an opportunity to buy an inventory of rock memorabilia, I jumped on it. I bought a trailer full of swag from a former DJ who had tons of promo material, recordings, posters, awards, passes, you name it.
I had an eBay business for a while but it turned out to be a grind and the posters were speaking to me more than any of the material. I started specializing in ’60s posters around ‘07.
Has your interest in collectibles always centered around concert posters or were you ever a collector of other items or memorabilia?
I have been collecting paper ever since I was a child. My family owned a wholesale periodical distribution agency, and I had unlimited access to comics and paperbacks. I saved piles of Mad Magazine and Peanuts books, but with one catch: the covers needed to be removed and returned to the publisher for credit. My parents would send me stacks of stripped comics to summer camp.
Wacky Packages were all the rage in 5th grade, and I bought what I could. Unfortunately, I stuck them all. I have replaced them since. Magazines were always available to me and later I collected National Lampoon, Heavy Metal, High Times, Playboy, Epic, and Rolling Stone. I really started as a comic collector. The Underground Comix of the ’60s led me to the posters.
I’ve collected everything that has caught my attention. I had a killer wine collection that sold years ago. Nowadays, I collect rare plants, minerals, toys, decorative glass, and mid-century furniture. However, music is always the center of my universe. Posters, records, tickets, passes, autographs; I’ve attended thousands of concerts.
What matters most about the value of concert posters? With many collectible markets, we see a combination of variables such as scarcity, age, and popularity of the subject that adds to the value. Is that the same with concert posters?
The scarcity, condition, desirability, and originality, as well as the relationship between all of these factors.
How much do you think the aspect of nostalgia plays into this hobby and the value of these posters? We know there has been a resurgence of ’80s and ’90s popular culture and collectibles from that era now that those who were kids in that era are middle-aged and have disposable income. Do you see something similar happening with concert posters from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s? Do people want a piece of something that they connected to when they were young?
Nostalgia plays a role to some extent because a collector needs some connection to the object. Yes, rock posters fall under the pop culture umbrella. However, these posters connect on a much deeper level: The power of music. Music has the power to transcend ordinary consciousness. Also, music connects deeply to personal memories.
How would you recommend people get started in this market? If I were someone with $100, $1,000, or $10,000 to invest, what would be your advice about how to enter?
#1 Do your homework! Research, read, and find experienced collectors and dealers who will share information.
#2 Buy the best piece you can afford at whatever price fits. Always buy from a trusted source that will authenticate and guarantee your purchase.
Are concert posters still being produced today and is there value in collecting modern posters? With most advertising going digital, what has happened to the market in the last 10 years?
The current poster market focuses on limited-edition screen prints. There is some very good art coming from this segment, but it’s a different game. These posters are sold at events intended as souvenirs. There is a thriving collectors market for these prints, and we offer them in our auction regularly.
Box office posters today are computer printed and are overall pretty uninteresting.
How does Psychedelic Art Exchange (PAE) work for consumers? Are posters available for purchase? Are they up for auction? On the other side, how does Psychedelic Art Exchange come to own these pieces before they sell?
Approximately 90% of our sales are through our auctions – be sure to check out what’s on the block. We auction over 400 unique lots every month. Our fixed-price marketplace is on our website. PAE is at the center of a two-way market and we buy from the public as well as take consignments.
What are your favorite pieces in your personal collection? Also, what are some of your favorite bands from decades past?
I have a small original art collection. My favorite posters from the ‘60s? Now, I collect primarily Rick Griffin, Greg Irons, and Garry Grimshaw posters. Wherever underground Comix cross over to concert posters is my sweet spot. Original Mothers/ Frank Zappa posters are my most serious collection.
I attended over 200 Grateful Dead concerts. My top 5 bands/artists other than the Dead are Frank Zappa, The Allman Brothers, NRBQ, Richard Thompson, and Los Lobos. There is so much that I love, though. Jazz, folk, blues, rockabilly, punk, prog rock, jam, and so on
Do you have a holy grail of concert posters that you would like to own someday? Or, what piece has eluded you over the years that you would like to grab one day?
My Zappa collection needs any Baltimore-area Zappa/Mothers posters, especially from the ‘60s or ’70s. My grails, however, are the top Rick Griffin posters. The Hawaiian Aoxomoxoa, The Murphy, and The BG-105. These are the holy trinity of Griffin posters.
A huge thank you again to Glen Trosch again for taking the time to answer these questions and share some insider knowledge about the vintage concert poster industry!
Psychedelic Art Exchange can be found at https://concertpostergallery.com/, or you can follow them at @psychadelicartexchange on Instagram.
*This blog was not paid for nor requested by Glen or PAE. It was written because Glen is an awesome human and a fountain of knowledge that we genuinely enjoy bringing much-deserved attention to.