Artist, situationalist, druid, activist, Jamie Reid is a man of many talents, but he is notorious for the work that he did over just five years of his 30 year career – defining the visual style of the Sex Pistols. His work, featuring letters cut from newspaper headlines in the style of a ransom note, came close to defining the image of punk rock, particularly in the UK. He is the man who put a safety pin through the Queen’s lip, the man who visually epitomized the DIY punk ethic. His best known works include the Sex Pistols album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols and the singles “Anarchy in the UK”, “God Save The Queen” (based on a Cecil Beaton photograph of Queen Elizabeth II), “Pretty Vacant” and “Holidays in the Sun”. Reid has also produced artwork for the world music fusion band Afro Celt Sound System.
His posters and record sleeves, he says, were designed ‘to articulate ideas, many of which were anti-establishment and quite theoretical and complicated.’
Jamie Reid created the ransom-note look used with the Sex Pistols graphics while he was designing Suburban Press, a radical political magazine he ran for five years.
Reid’s stint as the Sex Pistols art director in the 70’s would result in the most provocative designs of rock-music. Jamie Reid says: ‘It wasn’t the phenomen that interested me. I saw punk as a part of an art movement that’s gone over the last hundred years, with roots in Russian agitprop, surrealism, dada and situationism.’
Jamie Reid’s work demonstrated the power of graphic design in the music industry and opened the door to a strong new generation of British designers, whose purpose was different from Jamie’s. They used the creative freedom of the music industry as a showcase for vibrant design, unaffected by corporate compromise. Their influence has spread beyond music to fashion, the media and consumer packaging.
National Art Hate Anthem – Jamie Reid 2009. Record sleeve art for a limited edition 7″ vinyl single produced in conjunction with the Art Hate campaign.
Some of his most recent work is in Los Angeles, working with Shepard Fairy, for the exhibition Ragged Kingdom which opened in March of this year.