The Art of Punk

Punk graphics are having something of a grubby renaissance this autumn.

Anarchy Magazine
Anarchy Magazine

Last month we reported on the Southbank’s Someday All the Adults Will Die: Punk Graphics 1971 – 1984 show, and this month, University of the Arts London’s LCC campus will hold another tribute to the iconic punk graphics style in The Art of Punk.

Crass, Yes Sir Back
Crass, Yes Sir Back, Gee Vaucher with Crass

The show marks the recent launch of a book of the same name by LCC graphic design lecturer Russell Bestley and author and journalist Alex Ogg, celebrating punk graphics in all their snarling, spitting glory.

The Damned
The Damned, Peter Gravelle and Barney Bubbles

The book offers a sublimely illustrated panorama of punk design and art, covering posters, flyers, album cover art, fanzines and ephemera representing the likes of the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Damned and the Clash and their lesser known (and often better-named) counterparts, such as The Snivelling Shits and Peter and the Test Tube Babies.

Peter and the Test Tube Babies
Peter and the Test Tube Babies

‘Punk has  always  defied  convention,  reinventing  and  evolving  visual styles and practices in a constant battle against (and within) mainstream culture’, says Bestley.

‘It was a point in time where there was a much closer relationship between the graphics and the attitude. It’s about that DIY spirit where there’s no wondering if you’re competent enough – it’s one of the few genres where the graphics and music mirror each other like that.’

He adds, ‘There’s a big part of it that’s not about wanting to be mainstream – there’s an ugly and brutal side that can’t be appropriated, and that’s what I wanted to celebrate.’

Jamie Reid, Sex Pisolts God Save The Queen
Jamie Reid, Sex Pisols, God Save The Queen

And so it has – as the enormous body of work in the book and show testifies. Designers and artists featured include Jamie Reid, Malcolm Garrett, Linder Sterling, Peter Saville, Barney Bubbles and Raymond Pettibon.

Buzzcocks, A Different Kind of Tension
Buzzcocks, A Different Kind of Tension, Malcolm Garrett

A star (and possibly stud) -studded panel discussion will take pace on the opening night of the show, with Malcolm Garrett, Stylorouge’s Rob O’Connor and photographer Peter Gravelle  (who reportedly handed his friend Sid Vicious his last half-gram of heroin) discussing music graphics.

Costello poster
Costello poster, Barney Bubbles

The Art of Punk runs from 17 – 26 October at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, Elephant and Castle, London SE1. The book is out now, published by Omnibus Press priced £19.99

The Vibrators
The Vibrators, John Ellis

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