Swissted is a personal design project that showcases two of my favorite things--Swiss graphic design and punk rock. Using only Akzidenz-Grotesk medium, I have recreated and reimagined 200 ready-to-frame posters bound within one oversized art book. The following 10 designs are some of my favorites for reasons ranging from a great Bad Religion show I attended at a seedy bar in 1990, working with Iggy Pop on his Skull Ring album, or just the fact that I love bold and expressive typography.
I was at this amazing 1990 show at the Eagles Lodge in Schenectady, NY. My good friend Chris booked all the shows at this old-man’s bar where a bunch of regulars would drink whisky up front while one hundred lucky kids would slam to the sounds of a then unknown Jawbreaker opening up for Bad Religion in their prime. Brett Gurewitz, guitarist of Bad Religion and owner of Epitaph Records, wrote me to say he loves the <em>Swissted</em> book—for me, that’s the ultimate compliment.
What a lineup—the Ramones with the Runaways and Suicide at the Palladium. I lived directly behind the Palladium in ‘94 and was fortunate enough to catch Fugazi play the last show ever here before it closed. Unfortunately, like so many other buildings in the East and West Village, it’s been turned into NYU housing.
I love the Bad Brains and chose this specific venue because I’ve lived on Jane Street in the West Village of New York City for the past 15 years. The Rock Hotel was a great venue for tons of local and touring punk and hardcore acts in the mid ‘80s. Luckily this beautiful building has been landmarked but It’s now a swanky maritime themed hotel with super tiny rooms.
I grew up a huge fan of Iggy Pop and The Stooges so I was thrilled when I got the chance to design Iggy’s “Skull Ring” album. He was the nicest, most appreciative guy. I was blown away by how kind he was. And since my design studio is named Stereotype, he kept calling me Stereopticon.
Typography is a huge part of <em>Swissted</em> and all of my designs for that matter. I love looking at type and words in a different way and finding unique things within a band’s name. I love the rhythm, balance, and rhyme of Bauhaus’s moniker and thought it would be fun to illustrate and punctuate that. This poster along with two others were selected to appear in this year’s Type Directors Club’s traveling exhibition.
Many of the original Swiss Style poster designs were abstract representations of their subject matter. If you look at Josef Muller-Brockmann’s “Musica Viva” series, there’s not a musical instrument or musician to be seen. He used shape, structure, motion, color, and typography to evoke the feeling of music. And while most of the <em>Swissted</em> designs follow that philosophy, a few of the posters do have a slight literal concept to them. This poster for Fang gives a wink to the band’s name in that the white triangle can be seen as one razor sharp tooth.
This is the only design of the 200 posters in the book where I reference imagery or branding from a band. When blown up, cropped, and put on a 45 degree angle, Raymond Pettibon’s iconic logo for Black Flag is transformed from a legendary hardcore icon to unmistakable Swiss modernism.
The main purpose of The International Typographic Style is to communicate a message with unembellished clarity. When set in straight Akzidenz-Grotesk medium, some great band names like the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles really jump off the page and create an interesting contrast between the subject matter and the clean and direct typeface.
This is a poster for the great British punk band 999. I really like the illusion of movement that the multiple overlays create and how it forges one unfocused nine out of three. I think it’s also a good example of what you can do with the limitations of black and white.
Even though the book is titled <em>Swissted</em>, many of my posters are influenced by a lot of American designers as well. Reid Miles, who designed hundreds of iconic Blue Note Records covers in the ‘50s and ‘60s, is one of my all time favorite designers. This Radiohead print has a touch of that classic Blue Note vibe.