Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/9/2018 (426 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There’s been a change of plans.
Twenty-five minutes before we are scheduled to meet up at a coffee shop in the Exchange District, Antero Lindblad calls to say he’s running a tad late and asks if we can we make it a pizza joint on St. Mary’s Road for the same time.
Just over an hour later, Lindblad, wearing loose-fitting black jeans and a patterned grey shirt, a weathered President’s Choice tote brimming with posters, pamphlets and brochures slung over his left shoulder, saunters into the lounge at Santa Lucia Pizza.
Taking a seat he apologizes for his tardiness, explaining he received a last-minute call from a Sport Manitoba associate who wanted him to distribute printed material in the Norwood and St. Boniface area — hence the change of locale — for a weekend event at The Forks.
Lindblad isn’t a courier, far from it. To myriad promoters, publicists and event coordinators around town he’s known simply as the "poster guy." Since 1996, the soft-spoken 55-year-old’s primary source of income has been meting out placards advertising everything from rock concerts to charity walks to science fiction conventions. Five or six days a week, for six or seven hours a day, he’s either on his bike or a bus — he doesn’t drive, never has — traversing to one end of the city or another, pausing to drop off posters and such at public libraries, restaurants and music stores, or staple them to public notice boards.
Sure, his job is unconventional. But it pays the bills — he owns a condo in the Polo Park area thanks to a sizable toy and comic collection he partially sold off in the late 1990s — plus it affords him the opportunity to attend three or four films a week ("I guess you could put in there I’m a bit of a movie buff," he says, listing Edward Scissorhands as his all-time fave flick).
"Instead of going to the same job day after day, it sometimes feels like I’m doing three or four different jobs each week, depending what part of town I visit on any particular day," Lindblad says when asked what appeals most to him about his livelihood. "Plus, I can set my own hours; normally I stay at home until noon or so waiting for the phone to ring before heading out to do my rounds."
Lindblad grew up on Young Street in the West End. With dreams of becoming a television camera operator, he transferred from Hugh John Macdonald School to Tec Voc in Grade 9 to take a commercial broadcasting course. Unable to land work in his chosen field, he got a job as a store clerk at Pyramid Records, formerly on Donald Street, after completing high school.
Pyramid Records was where his interest in posters began, he says. Shortly after he started working there, his boss purchased a massive collection of movie posters — close to 5,000 — and for the next six months his assigned duty was to sort through them, putting them in order by genre.
In 1989, by which time he had switched jobs and was working nights at a used comic store, it was announced the inaugural Jazz Winnipeg Festival would be staged in and around the Exchange District that June. Because his days were free, he got in touch with the organization committee, asking if they needed volunteers. Quickly, he was assigned the duty of distributing posters in the downtown area promoting the festival’s evening concert series.
Months later, Lindblad received a call from a Ducks Unlimited employee who got his name from his contact at the jazz festival.
"She said they had a bunch of posters they needed put up for an event at Oak Hammock Marsh and that they’d be happy to pay me," Lindblad says, sheepishly admitting his going rate — 25 cents per poster — remains the same today.
"Next thing I knew, they gave my name out to somebody else who gave it to somebody else again. Pretty soon I was putting up posters for Ticketmaster, the ballet, the symphony, Prairie Theatre Exchange, you name it. Ever since the comic store closed in 1996, this has been the only job I’ve had, pretty much."
According to Article 6.3 of the City of Winnipeg’s Handbill and Poster Bylaw (No. 1076/75), "No person shall affix, erect, place or post any notice, poster or other paper or device, calculated to attract the attention of the public upon any private premises or upon any privately owned building, fence, wall, barricade, hoarding or structure without first having obtained the permission of the owner or occupant thereof so to do." Furthermore, posters should not be placed on directional signs, nor should they be displayed longer than 14 consecutive days or more than 24 hours after an advertised event has occurred.
"I do get flak from time to time from people yelling out of their car ‘Hey, are you going to take that down at some point?’ or ‘You’re not allowed to put that up there,’ but I’m pretty familiar with how the laws work," he says.
For the most part he utilizes public notice boards located inside places such as hospitals and universities, or outdoor panels in Osborne Village, the Exchange District and downtown area. He eschews metal hydro poles — if you see a ratty-looking poster on a pole it wasn’t him who put it there, he says — mainly because he has no interest in "wrapping my arms around a dirty pole, trying to tape something in place. I’d ruin my clothes in a week if I started doing that."
In a day and age when you can glean information about any event under the sun via your cellphone, Lindbad says it is remarkable how posters continue to be a valuable advertising tool. Routinely, when he’s affixing posters to a message board in a community centre, for example, two or three people will be reading over his shoulder or peeking inside his bag to see what’s on the horizon.
"Or if it’s a cool poster for a band they like, they sometimes ask if I have an extra one they can keep for themselves which I totally get; I’ve done the same thing in regards to posters I didn’t put up," he says adding one of the perks of the job is receiving free tickets to concerts or plays from time to time.
By his count, Lindblad has plastered the city with close to one million posters during his career. More impressive, he’s only missed two days of work due to illness in all that time, listing paper cuts as one of his primary job hazards.
How long can he keep at it? Well, considering his vocation doesn’t come with a long list of benefits — "No pension or dental plan, that’s for sure," he says with a chuckle — he figures he’s good for a few more years, at least.
"I do not enjoy Winnipeg winters at all but other than that, there’s not a lot of stress involved, plus I get a bit of exercise. I guess we’ll just see how it goes."
Dave Sanderson was born in Regina but please, don’t hold that against him.