Sex Pistols Cover Art - Building The Punk Aesthetic
How did the Sex Pistols shape the Punk aesthetic?
The simple answer is: through their artwork.
This article is here to show you that the Sex Pistols' artwork fueled their legacy as well as the punk movement's legacy itself.
The notorious Sex Pistols revolutionized punk and rock n’ roll but this wasn’t all they did for the punk community. The punk genre became aesthetically represented by them in many forms – making the Sex Pistols' image symbolic of punk culture everywhere!
Joining forces with artists like Jamie Reid and Ray Stevenson, they produced artwork that truly captured the nature of the punk movement. As the 1997: The Bollocks Diaries will tell you, the most infamous Sex Pistols album artwork is still prominent today as statement pieces that represent the punk aesthetic.
Here are the Sex Pistols’ best pieces of punk artwork:
1. ‘Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols’ Album Poster, 1977
Staying true to the original album cover, this poster features the bright art-pop contrast between pink and yellow. As well as this, it’s hard not to notice the ransom-note text that clashes against the background.
What could possibly shout punk any-louder than this bright, almost blinding Sex Pistols poster art?
Jamie Reid is responsible for this masterpiece, along with a lot of the Sex Pistols album art. The image their art projected was massively important to their image as an actual band.
It’s controversial, yes. But would they be the Sex Pistols if it wasn’t?
2. ‘Anarchy In The UK’, Tour Publication, 1976
This rare magazine was designed again by Jamie Reid to promote the sale of the Sex Pistol’s 1976 tour. It was a must have due to the unique and well-known style it was made in. True punks were dying to get their hands on one.
Featuring Soo Catwoman, this magazine couldn’t have embodied punk fashion any better. She radiated punk from every pore and we can tell! From the dog-collar choker, statement jewelry and classic punk hairstyle, it’s obvious how she became such an infamous London punk icon.
3. Another ‘Anarchy In The UK’ Tour Publication, 1977
This image of the band laughing a smiling while having beer thrown at them was used to promote their Scandinavian tour in Norway specifically. The guys can be seen as sporting the oh so popular spikey hairstyle and leather jackets, in true punk fashion – of course.
The dripping logo and splatters of beer make three words come to mind. Loud. Impulsive. Crazy.
The punk movement was nothing but rebellious – and this Sex Pistols poster shows it in all it’s glory.
4. Poster Art for ‘God Save The Queen’ single, 1977
This poster features an altered image of the Cecil Beaton’s Silver Jubilee portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.
Disfiguring the Queen by removing her eyes as well as gauging out her eyes was a risking move by anyone’s standards. Replacing them with ‘God Save The Queen’ and the Sex Pistols logo was even riskier.
Britain save punk was the real message – and it did, becoming “the single most iconic image of the punk era” according the The Observer.
Nothing shows the breaking down of societies norms and traditions better than this bass-ass artwork from Jamie Reid. It’s definitely one of our all time favorites.
5. ‘Never Mind The Bands’ Tour, Newspaper Ad, 1997
The ransom lettering seen in almost all of the promotional covers for the Sex Pistols, it spread to mainstream culture too. Newspapers began adopting it in regard to their own promotion of this punk bands music tour dates!
The Sex Pistols became instantly recognizable because of this writing style, and so did punk too.
6. ‘Pretty Vacant’ Single Artwork, 1977
This promotional piece of artwork was pretty iconic to say the least. Featuring a smashed picture frame and classic images of the punk band’s tour bus – it’s hard not to recognize this as Sex Pistols memorabilia.
7. ‘Dance To The Sex Pistols’ Promo for ‘Pretty Vacant’ Single, 1997
This poster is less well known but just as loved as the others. The photo incorporates the words ‘oh so pretty, oh so pretty’ as well as various smaller images to make up the whole in photo-booth fashion. Once put together, the image depicts one of the audiences at their gig mid-pogo (or mosh – to me and you.)
The pure energy and aggression is a staple of the punk community.
8. ‘Nevermind The Bollocks’, Virgin Records Shop, Nottingham 1977
This Virgin Records outlet got into a lot of trouble for their promotion of the Six Pistols infamous album ‘Never Mind The Bollocks… Here’s The Sex Pistols’. The community has a lot to say, that’s for sure. Any publicity is good publicity though, right?
The Virgin Records team in London loved it however. The album title was sprawled right across the London store, creating an unmissable array for all punk lovers and non punk lovers a-like!
Street art was never big until this point. Punk was so recognizable by it’s street art. Huge A’s for Anarchy could be spotted all around!
9. ‘Holidays In The Sun’ Single Cover, 1997
This album art was inspired by the trip the band took to Berlin. Nothing poetic inspired this piece though. Supposedly a brochure in cartoon style promoting family holidays is what did it.
Using the controversial topic of the broken politics in the city of Berlin, the band caused chaos with this one, leading to a law suit!
Punk = Chaos, and this dark satire of Berlin creates it.
The Sex Pistols artwork embodies all the taboo topics – from sex and politics to full blown revolution and anarchy. Isn’t that what Punk is all about?