‘Everyone wants Marilyn Monroe’

Eagerly awaiting a smoking break, poster salesman Ben Mauldin rolls up an AU student’s purchase.

Eagerly awaiting a smoking break, poster salesman Ben Mauldin rolls up an AU student’s purchase. (Photo: Iulia Gheorghiu)

The laptop speakers blared across the main Quad as students milled around the 14 long tables featuring the plastic poster books, still warm from the sun.

“Things are pretty relaxed, it’s just good weather and my Bare Naked Ladies Pandora playlist,” said Ben Mauldin, who has been working at Trent Graphics for the past year.

American University’s on-campus poster-sale came to a close on Labor Day Monday and one of its traveling salesmen reflected on his experiences.

“We’ve sold a lot of the typical ‘Animal House’ poster, Jim Belushi drinking whiskey and a lot of stuff to Doctor Who fans,” said Mauldin.

Trent Graphics, also known as Beyondthewall, sells posters at more than 600 campuses nationwide. Mauldin sets up the company’s merchandise across the East Coast.

“This is still the beginning of the poster-sale season, so this has been one of my first stops,” said Mauldin.

He said poster seasons are marked by the start of each new semester and the influx of students who might be moving in or changing residences.

Trent Graphic have been advertising on the main Quad area from Friday to Trent Graphics have been advertising on the main Quad area from Friday to Monday, setting up poster displays and breaking down at the end of the day.

The sale includes frames, magnets postcards, poster rolls for shipping, and poster tack. The standard poster, sized 24×36 inches, is priced at $7.99. The most expensive poster is a map of the world contoured with gold foil, at $24.95.

The Quad was reserved from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. according to Student Activities Daily Setup Reports. Mauldin said the breakdown of the sale occurs sporadically, due to the unpredictable traffic of students.

Jokingly, Mauldin attributed the busyness to students putting off their homework even longer following the long weekend.

AU students flip through the large poster binders from Trent Graphics on the main Quad in front of Mary Graydon Center.

AU students flip through the large poster binders from Trent Graphics on the main Quad in front of Mary Graydon Center. (Photo: Iulia Gheorghiu)

The poster books made available for AU’s sale do not represent the full collections of posters the company offers.

“For this school, it’s kind of a strong international presence, so we don’t really put out the ones with Jesus but we will bring out the book with soccer posters,” he said.

As anticipated, the next student to approach Mauldin at the designated register table inquired about a Chelsea poster. Mauldin instantly directed him to the poster books on the table farthest to the left.

“Of course, the Chelsea posters are gone by now. I hope he has a second favorite team,” said Mauldin.

Mauldin said the job is relaxed and he hires student helpers on each campus. Students are eligible for volunteer credits for their respective organizations or to earn $10 of poster credits per hour that they have worked.

“It’s funny to see how people pore over these, like it’s an important life decision like going to college,” said Mauldin.

He said that having just moved to the Baltimore area, he plans to get some posters to decorate his apartment after the fall poster season ends. His main picks are the 100 references to Grateful Dead songs and “some of the basic landscapes that seem really calming.”

“Does that make me a stoner? No, that’s a bit quick to judge although I do smoke,” said Mauldin, pulling a cigarette from his pack and tucking it behind his ear.

He added that his smoking breaks would be taken within the AU confines of the smoking poles throughout campus.

“This place is pretty and we’ve had great weather, but everywhere we go, it’s mostly the same thing,” said Mauldin. “Everyone wants Marilyn Monroe. And maybe Audrey Hepburn. And selling Marilyn and Audrey is most of what this is.”

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