unLTD pay a visit to the team at Vice Press, a South Yorkshire-based company who are licensed by some of the world’s biggest studios to create bespoke alternative movie posters.

Situated on the edge of Rotherham city centre, a 15-minute drive from the unLTD offices in Kelham Island, you’ll find Vice Press HQ nestled amongst a community of modern offices and industrial spaces at Bizspace, Bradmarsh Business Park.

Step inside what may seem at first glance a fairly innocuous unit and you’ll enter a film-lovers paradise. Decorating the walls are striking alternative movie posters depicting some of the world’s most famous titles, ranging from cult classics and big blockbusters to indie favourites and brand-new releases.

Vice Press

That’s what Vice Press do: produce unique, officially licensed art prints of your favourite films, TV shows and comic books. Founders James Henshaw and Matt Ferguson founded the business in 2015 after James approached artist Matt while the latter was selling artworks at a convention in Leeds.

“We just got talking,” Matt tells us. “There were a few meetings in the pub and I was like, ‘I’m fed up of not being able to do the posters that I want to do.’ James wrote for a few online blogs featuring artists and some movie websites, so when he told me that he had this plan to start this up as a business, I was completely on board with it.”

Beginning in humble fashion out of James’ home garage in Retford, they shored up a business plan and started approaching studios with their pitch. The first major licence was granted by Rebellion A/S, the studio behind the famous 2000 AD  comics, and there’s a wonderfully menacing Judge Dredd poster observing proceedings in the kitchen area to confirm this.

Vice Press

Once the foundations were laid, the duo found that their self-described yin and yang personalities served their fortunes well: James provides the organisation, structure and perhaps a more natural inclination towards being commercially minded; whereas Matt’s more chaotic approach unleashes bursts of creativity and wacky ideas while also providing a valuable artist perspective on proceedings.

“Our interests when it came to pop culture and films were already quite aligned, which is obviously helpful,” says James. “We do have very different skill sets, but I think they blend together quite well too. Getting on together helps; being diplomatic and reaching compromises is another reason it has worked well so far. We can rein each other in that way.

“But then again, if one of us is really passionate about doing something, we don’t really inhibit each other. Of course, about 90% of what we do has to be commercially justifiable, but that’s not to say we can’t lean into a personal passion every now and again.”

Vice Press

In its eight-year history, Vice Press has been licensed by some of the most illustrious studios in the industry including the likes of Studio Canal, Warner, Marvel, Paramount Studios and 20th Century Fox. James puts down a lot of the success down to a holy trinity of Matt’s artistic prowess, a robust business plan and tenacity when it comes to getting their pitches out there.

A rise in the popularity of alternative movie posters over this side of the pond has seen their market shift from being mostly US-based back to the UK – which was the original goal – and they now work with a wide pool of like-minded artists and printers to create their products, each one a bespoke design. Almost a decade of steady growth has seen them move from garage to a disused steel factory office in Attercliffe (which Matt claims was definitely haunted), later moving across to Bizspace Rotherham and, after a bit of moving around, eventually settling on a ground floor unit for their office and poster packing space.

Vice Press

A key aspect of their popularity was finding a niche. Rather than looking to appeal to art collectors who purchase original artworks for often eye-boggling amounts, Vice Press create high-end but accessible products for movie fans that would look just as good in someone’s living room as they would a cinema hallway.

Matt explains: “I’ve always said that I’m not making posters for people who collect posters; I’m making posters for people who like the thing the posters are about. So, if I make a Jaws poster, it’s for the people who like that film, and not really for the hardcore collectors out there. It’s allowed us to open what we do up to more people.”


You May Also Like