Punk and New Wave Is Art

Posted: August 14th, 2023

Punk is now admired as a movement that changed the music world and youth culture forever, as all great musical movements do. It was out with the old and in with the new and at the forefront of this are names that would become synonymous with this important period of change.

Today we are seeing more and more collectors seeking out promo and tour posters from the 70’s, in particular from the punk archives. Often treated as throwaway items, (like the majority of music posters have been at one time or another), punk items have become desired and accepted as art forms. The graphics from that time are now considered as new and revolutionary in their makeup and designers, (whom I would prefer to call artists), such as Neville Brody, Barney Bubbles and Jamie Reid changed the way we looked at posters forever. This is what happens when a new movement appears and takes the world by storm. There is a sea change in how we present ourselves to the outside world and punk and new wave gave us a lot to be grateful for. Anarchic, often subversive using vibrant shapes and colours they often brought much-needed life and vim and vigour to the world surrounding us as we grew up. I was a young punk and got myself into a whole lot of bother at school for playing loud punk music, especially The Clash, The Ramones, The Jam, The Damned and of course The Sex Pistols. I even wrote an article for the school magazine on the origins of punk rock to explain where, how and why this music had come from. I was completely out there compared to many of my school mates. Not a bad article for a fourteen year old me to write! I must see if I can dig it out. I digress…

There is still something vibrant and anarchic about the use of imagery through those golden years and even though the posters themselves may have aged, the iconography has not and their importance has grown. Some are still upsetting and others resonate with historical import. The way in which we saw the world changed through this period and we moved from a monochrome society that had left the psychedelia of the 60’s behind to one that 70’s youth could colour in, embrace and call their own. Something that still inspires and informs. A DIY culture that said anyone can do anything. As nihilistic as it appeared to be from the outside it was also incredibly uplifting giving confidence to every teenager that invested time and pocket money into the world of the alternative.

For some, these posters are a nostalgic lookback at their formative years and for a whole new audience they are an exciting voice still resonating from a past time with a continually disaffected younger group of people who understand the need for protest and a continual fight with the powers that be. There are many similarities with the 70’s and the modern world. The technology may have changed but the fight still remains the same.


And let us not forget that the work of Jamie Reid is collected more than ever and the editions of his work, especially for The Sex Pistols, are highly desirable. They still resonate and sum up so much of why they were adored at the time and why they still have the power to connect. Pretty Vacant?  Still powerful messaging and still relevant and may well sum up so many of those in the halls of power today. Punk tore it down then and is still able to tear it down today.

As for the photographers at the time, they were lucky to have so many different characters to portray. Performers and audience provided constant photo opportunities. It all started with Iggy and the Stooges then The New York Dolls and the scene thrived through the New York bands The Ramones, Blondie, Television and Talking Heads as what became known as New Wave and carried on from there. So many great photographers forged their careers in the US and the UK through that time and the resultant photos are continually desirable. Music photography has become even more high profile since the incredible TV series Icon – Music Through The Lens was released. If you haven’t seen it then please check it out.

Portraits of the bands of the time exuded attitude and no wonder these musicians were revered by a disaffected youth. Change was in the air and the times they were definitely changing. And now, we seek out these items and scour the land looking for these distinctive works. Just look at the pictures taken by Dennis Morris of The Sex Pistols. He captured intimate moments with the band and we see behind the veneer of confident young punks. Such a dark time when the UK’s young gig-goers were living a monochrome existence found the life and heart of a new way deep within the punk ideal. And Morris captures this vibrant moment with full clarity and brightness especially in his live shots. A beacon of hope that youth didn’t have to accept the world presented to them.


I rest my case, guv’nor!

All these works and their mediums are rated as art in their own right and decidedly so. We are updating our collections and available items constantly, so keep checking back for more and more surprises.