When you reminisce about your favorite music, you often think about the overwhelmingly relatable lyrics, usually catchy beat, and the countless hours spent playing the album on repeat. Yet, in an era of music apps like Spotify and Pandora, and the slow decline of record stores, the poignant artwork of each album that defined and is so strongly correlated to a band’s sound, has started to become forgotten. From album artwork to touring posters, the imagery and visuals that surrounded a band become integral to how it is portrayed and marked throughout their musical career. The artistic masterminds behind these covers, have crafted some of the most memorable logos and styles of work, which have not only become legendary, but identifiable throughout the world. It’s with this ability to portray and capture the angst, style, and culture of a genre and band, that Raymond Pettibon created some of the most seminal punk rock artwork.
Even if you aren’t a fan of punk music, it’s nearly impossible to have not seen or are at least be familiar with Pettibon’s work. His comic-like, anti-authoritarian drawings have become the definitive imagery and vision of an entire genre and subculture. From the late 1970s and 80s Raymond Pettibon created art for bands such as Black Flag, Minutemen, Sacharine Trust, Circle Jerks, Wasted Youth, Throbbing Gristle, Red Cross and Descendents. Pettibon’s most recognizable and important piece of work is the simple, and unmistakeable four bars that make up the Black Flag logo, which can now easily be found doodled on notebooks, drawn on walls, and tattooed on people’s skin. Not to mention, Pettibon even suggested the band name Black Flag to his brother, guitarist Greg Ginn. Apart from his vast influence on the uprising of Black Flag, Pettibon’s work didn’t just end there.
Soon after the creation of Black Flag’s logo, Pettibon’s work grew him great admiration from Sonic Youth’s bassist, Kim Gordon, and he designed one of Sonic Youth’s most widely known album covers for Goo. The cover is an illustration based on a paparazzi photo of Maureen Hindley and her first husband, David Smith, who were witnesses in the case of the Moors murderers. Through his stylistic lack of color and use of India ink, Pettibon has become a prominent figure within the contemporary art scene.
From logos to album covers and exhibitions, Pettibon offers a glimpse into the punk era’s underground DIY hardcore music scene. While both the lyrics that spew out of punks’ mouths and the complementary chords that burst through our ear drums are largely crucial to the character of punk, the artwork itself is as well. And it’s through his illustrations that Pettibon was able to capture the aesthetics and attitude of an entire subculture on a single 8×10 piece of paper.