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Students find self-expression through pop-up poster sales on campus

Posters purchased from Poster Invasion hang on a UNC student's wall on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023.

A pop-up poster sale outside the Student Union wants to help students fill wall space.

Poster Invasion, which sells posters during the first week of classes, shows up, takes over and then disappears, according to its founder and CEO, Mandi van Hill. 

Based in Greenville, S.C., Poster Invasion operates in more than 40 states and aims to be a diverse, inclusive and representative space for students, according to its website.

Van Hill graduated from the Kenan-Flager Business School in 2012. In 2019, she started the company after learning about the poster industry and its role on college campuses.

She said that for many students who recently moved away from home, decorating dorm rooms and buying posters is an important part of finding their identities and interests in college. 

“I just thought that there was a lot of opportunity to really connect with the students and really give them something that's going to be authentic and a true form of self-expression,” van Hill said. 

The woman-owned business partners with young artists around the world, providing a platform for their work to be printed and distributed to students on college campuses across the United States.

Katherine Katsoudas, a junior majoring in statistics, said she was studying in the Union when she saw the sale and wanted to see what they had. 

“I like combining physical art and also music and that kind of thing so I just think it's a cool way to show that,” Katsoudas said. 

A sales contractor for Poster Invasion, Maddy Goshorn, said that the poster sales allow students, particularly first-years, to meet other people and express themselves.

"I've heard people bond over, like, 'Oh my gosh, you like Mac Miller too?' and then they go to lunch together afterwards," she said.

Goshorn, originally from Los Angeles, said that her friend found an opening for the job in a Facebook group in 2021, and she has worked as a sales contractor ever since. She travels with her co-worker for two months out of the year to different college campuses around the country selling posters. 

Goshorn’s best friend and now co-worker, André Vernot, said that Goshorn has been trying to get him to work the gig alongside her for years and he finally agreed to it this semester, where they’re working on the East Coast. 

He said that his favorite part so far has been the opportunity to get out of California, travel on the job and have conversations with wonderful people.

At the end of the work week, the pair will get an email detailing their next destination.

Goshorn said the job is an adventure because they go where their jobs take them. 

Once the two months are over, both contractors will return to California and work their previous jobs or begin new ones. 

“Hopefully I’m going to be able to come at life a different way after this,” Vernot said. 

Van Hill said that the business hopes to create value outside of a financial profit by supporting young artists and students.

“We're giving students an authentic form of self-expression, we're creating a platform for artists, and it's just fun, you know?" van Hill said. 


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