In November 1976, the Sex Pistols released ‘Anarchy in the UK’ and the world was never the same. The epitome of the having the right words at the right time in the right place to change the world, the Sex Pistols perfectly encapsulated what it was to be working-class in the UK in the 1970s. And that was to be pretty pissed off. Nothing across the world at that point came close to being as disruptive and fearlessly rebellious of the status quo. A band that with a handful of songs and the right album art, kicked off an entire counterculture of punk rock in the UK. It’s a white-hot, seismic shattering of a record, putting the UK punk scene on the world stage.
Truly iconic and still relevant today, we celebrate the 45th anniversary of this massive moment in music and art with a release of a collection of rare Jamie Reid prints. The release for the prints will be at 9am on Wednesday 24th November. Sign up here for a release reminder.
Jamie Reid was heavily influenced by the Situationist International whilst studying at Croydon Art School, an international collection of social revolutionaries. He was authentically avant-garde, and his leaning towards protest art bled through his work. Reid was organising protests and sit-ins with Malcom McLaren, who later became the manager to The Sex Pistols. Even before his rise to notoriety with the Sex Pistols, Jamie Reid is as punk as it gets. Two fingers up at the establishment since day one.
In 1976 he started working with McLaren to promote the Sex Pistols. Reid assumed the role of agitator-at-large, the man who had the courage to stick a safety pin through the delicate upper lip of Elizabeth Windsor during the year of her silver jubilee in 1977. He knew exactly what kind of visuals to create to set a scene alight to create much more than a buzz, to create a movement. His work is inflammatory, incendiary, crackling with anarchic energy. His trademark fragmented style creates a menacing unease using ransom-style typography and torn up edges. The artwork looks, as if it led people to protest and got damaged in the process. It’s visceral, and you can almost hear Lydon’s ferocious vocals as you read it. The type has become synonymous with punk and anti-establishment art, used in collaborations with Vivienne Westwood and Pussy Riot.
Reid waged a visual vendetta against injustices for his entire career and his work with the Sex Pistols catapulted him into artistic acclaim. His iconic album art for God Save The Queen ranked number 1 in the list of greatest 100 album covers in the world for 2001.
Originally part of a collage to promote the punk rock documentary ‘The Great Rock ‘n Roll Swindle’, the print playfully subverts the traditional pin-up girl visual whilst staying true to the gritty aesthetics of the Sex Pistols with their trademark ransom type and lurid colours.
The vivid use of yellow and pink electrifies the slogan and the image, creating a sense of mania. The uneven layering and proportions of the image and the text is disorientating. By straying from the traditional colour palette, Reid showcases that his work can be punk and pretty at the same time.
One of the most iconic and iconoclastic works of British art history, the silver on blue gives the eerie impression of a photographic negative. The silver slickly references the silver jubilee when ‘God Save The Queen’ was released and made worldwide news, which Reid said ‘was probably the last public protest against the monarchy.’.
The optimistic shine in our Queen’s eyes sets a pleasing point of comparison for Reid’s punk rock aesthetic ravaging. One of the most depicted women on the planet, the ransom note lyrics of the Sex Pistol’s anthem ring true, she’s a commodity, a symbol of historical and societal supremacy. Reid’s work pierces right through the facade, with a safety pin to the upper lip.
There are a limited amount of these rare Jamie Reid prints available. Sign up here for a release reminder straight to your inbox when they are available to buy.
‘REID, J. & SAVAGE, J. (1987) Up they Rise: the incomplete work of Jamie Reid London: Faber and Faber.