Punk emerged as a reaction to the rigid restrictions of Modernism and its style ripped up the rules of Swiss minimalism and neutral sans serif typography. As traditional attitudes came to be considered outdated, society rebelled against the mainstream and demanded change. It feels like we are at a similar turning point today, both culturally and typographically. Can we look to history for parallels in how graphic design and cultural attitudes are changing today?
How Punk changed Graphic Design
Sarah Hyndman on Punk, which first exploded in the 1970s and, at the time, looked like youthful rebellion.
In actuality it was part of the Postmodernist movement which began as a reaction to the rigid restrictions of Modernism. Its DIY ethos encapsulated the anti-establishment mood of the mid 1970s, a time of political and social turbulence. The former British Empire was dissolving and a new era in British music, fashion and design was beginning.
Taking the stage to articulate the feelings of a dissatisfied generation calling for change were the Sex Pistols, who played their first gig in 1975 at St Martins College of Art. Their outrageous behaviour and contempt for established conventions announced the beginning of Punk. The DIY ethos and uncontrolled, home made style was revolutionary at the time and launched a new era in British music, fashion and design.