Music from the punk era transformed the world of music. If you could play three chords, you could make records. You didn’t even need a record label. You could start your own. The same thing happened in graphic design. All you needed were a few a sheets of Letraset and access to a photocopier, and you could make your own record covers. And lots of people did just that.
Action Time Vision: Punk & Post-Punk 7" Record Sleeves [Unit 26] is a celebration of DIY graphics from the punk and post-punk eras. You might call it outsider graphic design. With a few exceptions, trained designers rarely did 7” singles covers for this notoriously shouty and aggressive music. Apart from a few covers done by Barney Bubbles and Peter Saville, most punk and post-punk covers were designed by band members, label owners or friends.
Few of the sleeves showcased here are beautiful in the normal sense of the word. But they all have an urgency and an exhilarating disregard for design conventions that makes them exceptional. They are all clarion calls for independence and freedom from pop industry norms.
The work in this book is culled from the record collections of designer (and Unit Editions co-founder) Tony Brook, and leading punk scholar Russ Bestley. As one of the world’s leading authorities on punk and post-punk music, Russ has contributed an insightful essay to the book. The book also features interviews with designer Malcolm Garrett, Mute founder Daniel Miller and Sniffin’ Glue editor and musician Mark Perry.