Event Details


1 Knightsbridge Green
SW1X 7NW London
United Kingdom

29th November 2018 from 7:00pm

Russ Bestley is a designer and writer, specialising in graphic design, punk and humour, and is Reader in Graphic Design at the London College of Communication. His publications include Action Time Vision: Punk & Post Punk 7” Record Sleeves (with Tony Brook and Adrian Shaughnessy: Unit Editions 2016), The Art of Punk (Omnibus 2012), Visual Research (with Ian Noble: Bloomsbury 2004, 2011, 2015) and Up Against the Wall (with Ian Noble: AVA 2002). He has contributed articles to Punk & Post-Punk, Eye, Zed, Emigré, Street Sounds and Vive Le Rock, curated exhibitions in London, Southampton, Blackpool, Leeds, Birmingham and Newcastle, and designed books, posters and other material for the Punk Scholars Network, Active Distribution, PM Press, Viral Age Records and other independent labels and publishers. He is a member of the Punk Scholars Network, Lead Editor of the journal Punk & Post-Punk and runs the Graphic Subcultures Research Hub at the London College of Communication.


This talk aims to deconstruct a range of punk and post-punk typographic design in record sleeves, posters, flyers and fanzines. The use of Letraset rub-down transfer type and architectural figures, hand-rendered letterforms, ‘ransom note’ style lettering, stencils, typewritten text and common tools for origination and reproduction (the typewriter, photocopier, rubber stamp) will be contrasted with ‘traditional’ design methods of type composition and reproduction, including halftone reprographics, letterpress and phototypesetting.


It will also explore the complex relationship between the stereotype of ‘authentic’ do-it-yourself punk graphics and the music industry professionals who created many of the visual conventions that came to be closely associated with the subculture. While the groundswell of amateur artists, illustrators, photographers, typographers and other cultural producers inspired by the subculture to create a new aesthetic should not be under-estimated, their story has become almost the default history of punk graphic design. The role of design professionals – often with many years experience within the music industry – has frequently been overlooked, an embarrassing secret kept in the closet for fear of undermining notions of authenticity and punk’s ‘revolutionary’ rhetoric.