First Reference and notes

Visual Vitriol. The Street Art and Subcultures of the Punk Rock and Hardcore Generation by David A. Ensminger

visial vitreol

Ensminger is not interested in existing theories and analysis of the Punk Rock subculture, he wants to tell the story of Punk Rock by Punks.  The book explores ethnic, cultural and social groups that embraced punk and he gives examples of DIY designs, mainly flyers and fanzines, to illustrate his writings.  This book gives me a glimpse into the emotional investment of Punks without the, often erroneous, theoretical and analytical viewpoints of scholars.   I am also able to track the art and design practices through presented examples.



First Reference and notes

Notes on DIY

The more I research the DIY work ethic, the more apparent it becomes that DIY has played a role in many other subcultures and art movements during the 20th century.  Although this is old  information, I will have to consider that Punk Rock may not have been influenced by these subcultures at all, that the motivations for using the DIY method was exclusive.

This is obviously an area that I need to explore further, however I have found many conflicting theories about the influences of Punk Rock. I therefore feel that I should separate the two subjects (Punk Rock and DIY) during my initial research and observe where they meet.

Notes on DIY

Essay Title

Further exploration led me to my essay title:


The Punk Rock DIY Work Ethic in Graphic Design and Art:  Origins, Influences and Impact


I am excited about this topic and will now be focusing on primary and secondary resources in detail, some of which are mentioned in my previous post.

Watch this space……….



Essay Title

The DIY work ethic of the Punk Rock Subculture

I have decided to focus on the DIY work ethic of the Punk Rock Subculture that relates to art and graphic design.  To begin with, I will establish exactly what this means, what was the DIY work ethic during that time?

The Do-It-Yourself work ethic was applied to all aspects Punk Rock: music, flyers, clothing, record covers, fanzines and other items such as badges and jewelry.  I am interested those that relates to art and graphic design.

So why is DIY associated with Punk Rock?

To understand this, you will need to understand a bit about the Punk Rock ideology and the cultural and social circumstances during this period.

The Punk Rock ideology was similar to other anti-establishment subcultures and art movements of the 20th century such as Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Teddy Boys, Hipsters and Rockers, to name a few.  All of these movements and subcultures promoted anti-consumerism, anti-war, non-conformance and were pro-personal freedom.


The subculture is associated with working class individuals during a time when unemployment and social unrest were prominent.  Power cuts, strikes and corruption contributed to anarchy which is associated with the Punk Rock movement.


Taking these factors into consideration whilst analysing  the DIY work ethic in relation to art and graphic design, it becomes apparent why low-tech, homemade graphics, flyers and publications were produced. Handwritten, cut-and-paste or letraset typography accompanied borrowed or hand drawn images to express ideas, opinions and communicate local news and events.  No attention were paid to copyright and all established art or design rules and methods were discarded.


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Burrell, I. (2012). Civil Unrest, Corrupt Police and Porn: Why the 1970s Were No Different From Today. Independent [online]. Available at: [Accessed 11 April 2016].


  1. Johnny X (2014). Punks [online image]. Available at: [Accessed 12 April 2016].
  2. Urban75 (2007). Up Yours Fanzine [online image]. Available at: [Accessed 12 April 2016].



The DIY work ethic of the Punk Rock Subculture

Narrowing Focus

From my mindmaps and initial investigations it became apparent that I need to narrow my focus to generate an essay that is interesting but concise and to the point.  I proceeded by looking at my topic from many different perspectives.  There are three important key points that I need to consider:  The Do-It-Yourself work ethic, Punk Rock and Subcultures.  Unfortunately, all three points are hefty subjects and I have to establish clearly how they fit together and what takes precedence.  I will write another blog with my findings.


Narrowing Focus