I'VE BEEN TO HUNDREDS of rock shows, but I've never attended a single one because of its poster. The poster artists in the documentary Died Young, Stayed Pretty are all too aware of this inefficacy: Their work promotes another form of art, and they're a tiny fringe of an already fringe culture. Director Eileen Yaghoobian ignores the functionality of their artwork and instead focuses on the artists as personalities. While details of their techniques are only glanced upon—often frustratingly—Yaghoobian effectively gets her camera in each artist's face and allows them to ramble about whatever they feel like talking about.
Some, like Art Chantry and Rob Jones, have plenty to say, and when Yaghoobian couples their ruminations with hundreds of shots of posters, it results in a dizzying worm-can of pop culture, literally overflowing with ideas and images. But the movie meanders, and we never really get the chance to see either how these truly offbeat artists work or what propels them. Deeper background info on poster history would have been useful, or perhaps Yaghoobian should have focused on fewer artists. With a couple exceptions, most of her subjects get lost in the shuffle, and Died Young, Stayed Pretty becomes a further piece of the unraveling fringe.