Video Store Memories: Interview with Outpost 512 Gallery


I was in the fourth grade and it was summer. Jacob and I walked the three miles to our local video store, Video Outlet. We rented Eddie Murphy’s Raw and from this single moment of recall is born one million childhood memories. This is where fandom starts.

Steven Piper is a fan of remarkable quality. His collectible poster venture Outpost 512 is a monument to his deep love of the now extinct video store. Video Store Memories is the opening event of Outpost 512 Gallery, it exists as a love letter to the video store and the joy of finding a gem among the shelves. There is a honest joy to what Piper does, and this gallery show brings it all together.

Decades later, if I see Eddie Murphy I see the cover of the VHS and I see Video Outlet and I see Jacob. I see the fourth grade. The DVD on my shelf is that memory. This is the heart of a collectible—an object that makes total memory tangible. Piper looks to these experiences and wants to leave our memories open, shared in community.





'Dream Therapy' by JJ Harrison

‘Dream Therapy’ by JJ Harrison for Outpost 512


When did you start running private commissions? I think the first one I saw that you lead was JJ’s Wolverine poster. How did you go from running private commission groups to starting your own print publishing business?

I started running private commissions in February of 2015 with my first poster being for my all-time favorite movie, Michael Mann’s Thief. Since then, I’ve produced almost 300 posters in a little under ten years.

From the start, my goal has been to produce artwork for films that do not get much love. I always wanted to get into producing fully licensed work but needed to know where to start. Luckily, I’ve created relationships in this community that have helped connect me with the right people. These relationships helped put me in a place to officially launch my fully licensed poster online store about five years ago in 2019.


From the Outpost 512 Facebook

From the Outpost 512 Facebook


The theme of the first Outpost 512 event is video stores, which brilliantly ties into your personal history. The video store as a public necessity is long gone. These places played such a vital role in the lives of those that grew up with them — a video store was a place to get lost in, to wander and explore films you might not have known existed. What do you miss the most about video stores? 

What I miss most about video stores is finding the movies that you did not know existed. The thing that usually caught my eye and brought me to them were their amazing covers and artwork. The movie may be awful, but you would never know until you rented it and watched it and the only reason you would do that was because of the amazing artwork on the VHS.

For those coming to the gallery, I know some of the pieces are for movies that some may never had heard of before. I want someone to find new to them movies they might fall in love with because of the art they see at the gallery. I want people to be taken back to a simpler time when people were more concerned of what the artwork looked like, not what awards the movie had won, what critics were saying about it, or what Tomato rating the internet might bestow on the title before they had a chance to form their own opinion.

I hope to bring the joy that I had growing up in a video store to those coming to my gallery. I want to provide a place where they can rediscover movies in a physical way instead of scrolling through endless lists in your phone. For years, I was the one camping outside of art galleries and saying that one day I was going to do this, and to know that when the doors open people will be coming into my gallery to show them what I can make possible is what drives me.


'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' by Frederick Cooper

‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ by Frederick Cooper for Outpost 512


There are certain VHS covers that I remember from my local video store, most I was too young to rent or understand what they were. The covers for films like Eating Raoul and The Lair of the White Worm are forever stuck in my brain. Are there specific videos you picked up or didn’t that have stuck with you?

Oddly enough one of the movies that has always stuck in my head from my video store days is Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Gore-Gore Girls. Being eight years old and seeing a woman’s eye being taken out of her face can leave a lasting impression on a kid.

Along with that, covers like the 1991 and 1992 Royal Rumble covers by Joe Jusko are forever ingrained in my mind. Oh, and how could I forget my all-time favorite, Drew Struzan’s Big Trouble in Little China.


'Tenebre' by Bruno Vergauwen

‘Tenebre’ by Bruno Vergauwen for Outpost 512


What inspired you to open a physical space rather than stay a purely online presence?

I had been producing posters and doing conventions for so long that many people were constantly asking where they could come to see my full collection and what I have available. Well, this past year my wife and I were actually looking into purchasing a historic movie theater, but while looking into it we were offered to take over for a space that was the perfect size for an art gallery, and we figured it was now or never.

My plan for the space is to bring a very retro vibe. Being a kid from the ’80s, growing up around Sam Goody’s, Suncoast Video, and mom and pop video stores, my plan is to bring that feel to the gallery. We will be open during the week and weekend during regular hours unless we are traveling to conventions or preparing for an upcoming gallery show. Our goal for this first year is to have a gallery show roughly every 3-4 months.


'Phenomena' by Matt Ryan Tobin

‘Phenomena’ by Matt Ryan Tobin


Is the city of Taylor, TX supportive of the arts? I looked it up and it’s about a forty-minute drive from Austin and the airport. What attracted you to Taylor as a home base?

Austin has become very expensive to live in. Many people have been moving to the outskirts and taking their eclectic businesses with them. The city of Taylor is extremely welcoming and constantly seeking out to bring a variety of offerings for those in the town and the surrounding areas.

For those familiar with old Austin, Taylor has the feel of what once made Austin Weird. They have a yearly Pride Parade, bimonthly events, and we even opened our doors a bit early to sponsor and participate in Taylor’s first annual Art Studio tour along with businesses from all over the town.


Line for MondoCon | from Steven Piper's Instagram

Line for MondoCon | from Steven Piper’s Instagram


You posted a bunch of photos of your time camping out for Mondo shows. I would fly in from California for a good many of the Mondo events but regrettably never camped out. Those events and even those lines were such a rewarding experience. What makes an event worthy of camping out?

For me personally, original artwork that I know there is only one of is what typically drives me to camp out. I want to be the first in line so that I don’t have to worry about someone else getting what I have been camping out a week for. Is it crazy? Yes, but I am happy to say that everything I have ever camped out for I still own and cherish to this day. That being said, I have been known to camp out purely to spend time with my friend while he awaited an upcoming show that meant a lot to him.

We started camping for a day or two at the first Mondocon and shortly after I was sleeping on the sidewalk in front of Mondo for about a week for Jason Edmiston’s first Eyes Without a Face show. I had a vision while camping out that it does not have to be miserable to do this. I wanted to make it a tailgate. So, I started bringing my movie projector and one of my gaming systems and at night we would sit outside and play video games and movies and people would drive up and give us free water and beer. I felt that while leading up to a gallery in line could be hot, cold, or a miserable experience, I wanted to make it an event so that anyone who camped out with me would be having a good time. I hope to bring that energy to this show.


Hedorah by Rob Jones for Gallery 512

Hedorah by Rob Jones for Gallery 512


What direction did you give the artists participating in your first gallery exhibit?

All I told them was that the artwork needed to be from the era of the video store, so if you could have rented the movie from a video store, then that title could be in the gallery. Being my first gallery, I wanted to stay a bit of an open concept to ensure a variety of options for those attending.

Posters can be seen simply as inventory, a stock of product to sell. You bring an enthusiasm and appreciation for pop culture posters that goes beyond that notion. Curious to know, what is your own personal collection like? Do you collect beyond posters?

I have a few hundred posters in my collection, but I have an enormous movie collection. I grew up in a video store since I was 5 years old being baby sat by the owners. I started working at a video store when I turned 8 moving between different media and video stores until I turned 22.

My wife and I have a personal physical media collection of over 4,000 movies and TV shows. We have a mix of Beta, VHS, CEDs, DVDs, and Blu Rays. In additional to all the movies we own, I also have multiple storage units full of old toys I collected throughout my childhood. Those too may one day make their way to being sold within the walls of Outpost if my wife has her say.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *