Punk Subculture

Punk is a very interesting subculture, I take an interest in the punks as they used ‘DIY design’ a lot, I find this links in with my own practise, especially with textiles as you can spend a lot of time upcycling materials and changing it’s original function. It had originated in the 70’s, and they explicitly challenge style establishment. The design rules were set for them to be followed, but not the punks, their design concept was to most definitely not fit in.

During this lecture we looked at Jamie Reeds design of the Sex Pistols album cover, ‘God Save The Queen’. It was interesting to analyse this image and describe it. We came up with the idea that the eyes and mouth and been erased, replaced with newspaper article style, like a ripped magazine and ransom notes. This automatically links to vandalisation, crime, and going against the queen. Covering her eyes means she is unable to be identified. Maybe that’s what the punks wanted? They were rebels and went against rules and the monarchy. The song was actually banned from the radio, as it was a play on the English national anthem, it was seen to have created new meaning and going against cultural traditions and national identity. The Queen was clearly being visually trashed and violence was shown against her image. The use of ‘bricolage’ (gathering different materials, putting a combination belonged elsewhere together creating a new meaning) and ‘resignification’ is present.

Characteristics of punk style – according to Hebdiges article.

  • chains
  • pins
  • cheap fabrics
  • trash aesthetic
  • cut outs of materials pinned on – safety pins
  • leopard prints
  • toilet chain necklace – changing functions & meaning of jewellery in style
  • tampons as earrings
  • colours that don’t go
  • jet black or hay yellow hair
  • fishnets ‘bondage’ belt strap chains

Vivienne Westwood
Mother of Punk

It is said that Vivienne Westwood was the creator of punk. Her formative style of work established the subcultural fashion and youth movement. Punk was a youthful reaction towards the older generation and through Westwoods work and McLaren, her paterner, their work captured the energy of the movement.

Vivienne Westwood designs.

Concepts, approaches, theories that I’ve learnt from this lecture:

  • Bricolage
  • In revolt
  • Homology
  • Breaking rules
  • Putting elements together
  • Conspicuous consumption

What are we learning about subcultures? What does this caste study have in common with previous?

Every case study has used Bricolage in different ways. Identity is shown in various ways, not just fashion, but visually, orally and behaviour expression. Visually shocking during the period at which they emerge. A sense of breaking rules as always. Exaggeration within the fashion and with their behaviour.

What can be applied in my own practise?

  • Everything can be signified
  • Choice of materials/medium you like has a meaning
  • Put it with something it shouldn’t go with
  • Exaggerate work
  • Address traditions of materials
  • Things have been selected, they aren’t just there
  • Explain creative decisions

Throughout my own career with art, I haven’t really noticed that I’ve used resignification within my own work, I’ve put things together that don’t usually go. For example, in my A-levels, I made a tutu out of material and laminate piece of paper to turn it into a dress. I also made a lino print and printed it onto organza fabric. I didn’t think this would’ve worked but it did.


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