Images by Mike Joyce
There is one thing I don’t associate with punk/indie/alt rock concert posters: Swiss modernism. When I think of a poster that’s promoting a punk rock concert, I think of something that’s busy, rough around the edges. I think of something that’s loud, just like the music itself. Now, if you can, imagine seeing a vintage punk/indie rock concert poster re-imagined and redesigned through the use of Akzidenz-Grotesk typeface and minimalist structure.
Mike Joyce’s Swissted: Vintage Rock Posters Remixed and Reimagined, a collection of 200 recreated vintage punk/indie/alt rock posters, is one of the most interesting and brilliant music books I’ve seen in a while. It is a book (more along the lines of coffee table sized) that pays homage to the hand drawn/made posters used in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, before the influence of digital graphic design, to generate faces in a crowd for bands such as the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Breeders, B-52’s, Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, the Lemonheads, Devo, Sonic Youth, David Bowie, Suicide, and Danzig, to name a few. It is also a collection of Swiss modernist pieces that all manage to be unique and strikingly different from one another. Swissted is a great example of how versatile and creative Swiss modernist graphic design can be despite being limited to only a small handful of typefaces. Each 11.1” x 14.1” poster is microperforated for easy tear and frame access.
Aside from creating a collection of provocative conversation pieces, Joyce also allows viewers to think back in time and imagine seeing bands like Nirvana and Hole opening for Dinosaur Jr in 1991; the Ramones and the Talking Heads opening for Blondie in 1975; Teenage Fanclub opening for Radiohead in 1997; and even the Goo Goo Dolls opening for the Dead Milkmen in 1987.
Swissted celebrates the union of two seemingly polarized art forms and fuses them together into an almost unbelievable book. While the styles of the original posters differ drastically from those created by Joyce, consider this: the roots of both punk music and Swiss modernism are based in transcending the bullshit, if you will. This is better explained in a foreword written by infamous graphic design critic Steven Heller:
“There’s certainly something ironic about seeing visceral names like the Dicks, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, and Suicidal Tendencies set in lowercase Berthold Akzidenz-Grotesk medium…The Swiss modernists purged extraneous decoration to create crystal clear communication, while punk rock took on bloated self-indulgent rock and roll and stripped it to its core. Both created something new, powerful, timeless.”
This is for all the alternative music junkies, graphic design font nerds, lovers of Swiss modernism, and/or coffee table book collectors out there. The book is available March 5 through Philadelphia’s own Quirk Books. Reserve your copy today!