When it comes to college living, dorm denizens must take advantage of every opportunity they can to customize their pad. For many, that means turning hideous white walls of cinder block into giant canvases of self-expression that would (hopefully? maybe?) just, like, blow their parents' minds, man. But in every possible dorm room across every possible universe, pretty much every poster fits into one of four categories. Behold as we break them down for you and tell you what they really say about the people who hung them.
Category 1: The "Art History 101" Posters
Examples: Anything by Dali or Warhol, Klimt's "The Kiss," "Starry Night" fo sho
Background: Yes, my friends, art is an amazing thing. It can touch our souls, it can offer us salvation from the doldrums of our day-to-day existence… especially when it's mass-produced and sold at the mall! If a painting's classic enough to be recognized by art students, frat boys and your grandma alike, you can bet you'll find reproductions of it on many a dorm wall.
What This Décor Really Says: "Art is best when I can buy it two-for-one!"
Category 2: The "Culture Was So Much More Rad in the Before Time" Posters
Examples: Movie or music posters from at least three decades ago (think Hendrix, Marley, Scarface), anything in black & white (like when that sailor kissed that nurse)
Background: There are two types of things it's hip to know about: stuff that is so new no one else has heard of it, and stuff old enough that most of your peers don't give it a second thought. These wall decorations fall solidly into that latter category. Why do you think so many college kids get into Jimi Hendrix? Because "it's so much better than that garbage today, man" (although, to be fair, this is true).
What This Décor Really Says: "My culture is boring. I would like to co-opt somebody else's… preferably one that involves lots of illicit substances."
Category 3: The "There's Work Time, and then There's PARTY TIME" Posters
Common Culprits: The Periodic Table of Mixology, anything from Animal House
Background: SPOILER ALERT: Some college kids enjoy a Bacchanalian night life. A few college kids enjoy it a lot. And a few of those kids feel the need to express their love for it in an 18x24 format. How else would you know the best way to have fun after class if you couldn't look it up in a handy chart? It's what all the top scientists do.
What This Décor Really Says: Either "Basically I am only here to forget why I am here" OR "I'm actually not that into partying, but maybe if I put these posters up I'll fool them all!"
Category 4: The "XXX" Posters
Common Culprits: Two Girls Kissing, The Periodic Table of Sex (college kids love their periodic tables)
Background: The logic here is pretty simple: you put up pictures that suggest a certain type of physical activity, maybe you encourage some, right? Well, probably not. But hey, don't blame a dude for trying (BTW, this probably is mostly a masculine phenomenon. Girls seem to like their decorations more artsy and less creeptastic, which is cool).
What This Décor Really Says: "The best way I can think of to bring up making out is to point to this thing on my wall. Is it working?"
BONUS CATEGORY: THE HYBRID
In truth, a lot of dorm art you run into will be a combination of a few of the above categories. Even some of the examples we used can float between classifications pretty easily—for instance, as much as Animal House merchandise is all about hard partying, it also celebrates retro culture. Friends, these are the most insidiously brilliant posters of all. But there is one poster that rises above the rest, one that combines at least TWO AND A HALF of the above categories to form a masterpiece of wall art that seemingly no college dorm can do without. That poster is…
Okay, technically it's called "Pink Floyd Back Catalogue," but "Pink Floyd Butts" is just as good. Marvel at the way this giant image merges some of the categories above—it's clearly provocative, what with the naked ladies and all, but in celebrating Pink Floyd, it also channels the ultra-cool culture of '60s/'70s psychedelia (and since the women are tastefully naked, you could also argue that it also fits into the "artsy" category). All kidding aside, this actually is a pretty sweet poster, but it's clearly designed to be maximally effective in any dormitory setting.
What are you putting up in your dorm?