This is the test. I got this record as a surprise present the other day and couldn’t wait to come back home to listen to it. But then the layout caught my eye. The SSD font. Berthold City. In medium. If you like typography and hardcore, one of the first font names you’ll remember is for sure the one of this font. Whether you know it as the SSD font, the Youth Crew font, or simply by what name it goes by in typography.
Berthold City’s history goes back to 1930s Germany. It was designed by German designer Georg Trump in 1930 when working for Berthold, a globally active, flourishing German typefoundry at that time with head offices in Stuttgart, St. Petersburg, Budapest, and Vienna among others. Slap serifs regained popularity after World War I for advertisement and City was released at that time as “a distinctive, rectangular design that evokes a sporty, urban feeling,” as stated on Berthold’s page.
It is SS Decontrol that brought Berthold City in bold and with an upper case exclusive look into hardcore. But its real year of glory was 1988. At the peak of Youth Crew, a lot of bands used this font on their record releases as their logo font. Gorilla Biscuit used it for their ST 7″, Side by Side for their “You’re Only Young Once” 7″ cover or Chain of Strength (who explicitly name the SSD font as inspiration) sported it on their “True Till Death” t-shirts that they made for their first show in 1988. Also High Impact, Turning Point’s label in 1988, put out a t-shirt using this font that year. Berthold City thus became since then synonym with Youth Crew. A simple search “youth crew records” in any search engine will verify this.
Images (5) Chain of Strength Shirt from xshirtsx.blogspot.com(6) Turning Point Shirt from teetilldeath.com, Clearsight record cover from store.deathwishinc.com, Ancient Heads record cover from shop.react-records.com
Another font that became indistinguishable with hardcore in 1988 was Princetown Regular. This only upper-case font was designed by British designer Dick Jones when working for Letraset UK in 1981. Since then it became a regular font for American high school and college sport teams.
In 1988, Judge used this font for their “New York Crew” 7″ for their logo and it’s also the font on Youth of Today’s “Youth Crew 88″ t-shirt that they made for their 1988 summer tour. Alex Brown did the layout and remembers that he wanted it “to look like some sort of team logo. I was really into the way the first couple of SSD records looked”, he keeps on and adds: “and I suppose that could be cited as a motive for the typeface I used; something bold and clean.”
Later on, Princetown became, as Berthold City, another classic font for Youth Crew and straight edge bands. Think Floorpunch.
Fonts images from myfonts.com, if not differently mentioned all other record covers from discogs.com, youth crew 88 t-shirt from doublecrossxx.com, record cover Monster X from vinyl45lp.com, record cover Mouthpiece from recordnerdyo.blogspot.com
This post is part of series on hardcore(-punk) layout. The complete series so far can be found here.
Saw this in Bex, a small Swiss village.
There is not a lot of talk about the streets, nonconformity, graffiti, punk rock or skateboarding here. Since 2009 (as far as I can track this back) Modernica collaborates with street wear brands and graffiti writers turned artists. Collaborations were made with A Bathing Ape, Retna, Krink, HUF and The Hundreds – most of the time for limited editions runs ranging from 1, 5 to 100 pieces.
Of course, stories were also told about these collaborations. They can be broken down to either “classic design meets hip, urban vibe” or “classic design meets (soon-to-be) classic design.” So another way of reading these stories is to read them as stories about the institutionalization and legitimization of street wear design or artist identities and the negotiations of images, of (brand)identities that go along with it. Here is their chronic:
MODERNICA X BAPE (A Bathing Ape) – Fiberglass Side Shell Chair – September 2009
This Fiberglass Side Shell Chair, coming in three colors, was the first collaboration Modernica did with a “street wear” brand. “Exclusively from Japan,” is how this collaboration with A Bathing Ape is announced on the Modernica blog. For Highsnobiety, this collaboration is just a logical development for Bape as a brand. In a Sanrio fashion, there “are not many products out there that Bape has not worked on yet.” Bottom line: Bape designs everything anyway, why not a Modernica chair?
Images (1)-(3) global.rakuten.com
MODERNICA X RETNA -Case Study Storage Unit – December 2010
Retna is a “neighbor” of Modernica (his studio is next to their Downtown warehouse). Also, they “admired his work for a awhile,” as Modernica explains further on their blog. Retna is presented as a recognized, successful artist (he sells his “artful tagging” “for upward of $ 30,000″), who “painted” one Case Study Unit for Modernica. He adds an “urban vibe” to their “iconic furniture,” so Modernica.
MODERNICA X BABE – Ballpen Camo Side Chair – August 2012
“Classic Bape design meets classic furniture design,” is how Highsnobiety summarizes this second Babe and Modernica collaboration – side chairs in three different colorways limited to 100 pieces. Babe adds “their own flavor to some classic pieces for furniture.” The collaboration makes sense because Bape’s founder Nigo is a “well-known fan of Mid Century furniture and products.” Also, he has already designed numerous pieces of furniture. This might also be a reason why Modernica collaborated with Bape in the first place (except for adding the label “Japan” to there brand image): In January 2010 Modernica posted a magazine’s sneak peek of the house of Babe’s founder, Nigo, showcasing a custom designed Case Study Day Bed.
MODERNICA X KRINK – Case Study Fiberglass Shell chair – September 2012
Krink used five Fiberglass Shell Chair “as his canvas,” so Modernica on their blog. For Modernica, Krink chairs are a “cool collection of new art with a distinctively hip vibe.” Krink, as Retna, is presented here as an artist and “art collectors” are specifically addressed by Modernica to buy these chairs. Krink himself presents this collaboration as him adding his “signature style” with his now “classic Krink silver ink.” For Laimyours Krink thus turned these seats from “slightly inaccessible intellectual property to rough, almost raunchy, interpretations.”
Images: (1) hvw8.com/news, (2) krink.com/projects/modernica
MODERNICA X HUF- Fiberglass Shell Chair- January 2014
HUF “teamed up” with Modernica during their 52 Colors in 52 Weeks project in tainting a shell with their signature color “day-go-glow punk green color.” HUF’s green is a “homage to the punk rock days in the early era of skateboarding,” as stated on the Modernica blog. Skateboarding that was “simply not accepted” at that time shaped also HUF’s founder “Hufnagel’s outlook on life,” as one can red further.
For Highsnobiety, the “LA-based streetwear brand now goes full-on interior design.” The Hundreds argues similarly: HUF looks “toward extending their reach, and moving into lifestyle.”
MODERNICA X THE HUNDREDS – Fiberglass Arm Shell Rocker – April 2014
Bobby Hundreds offers three main arguments for collaborating as “a design company” with Modernica to make an “extremely limited quantity” of the Arm Shell Rocker: the exclusivity (“first time that Modernica has produced a true black shell.”), the visual identity of The Hundreds is applied on the chair (“implementing our familiar CMYK color combination”), and their “deep appreciation for Eames’ work.” For him, The Hundreds as a lifestyle brand and their quest for “timeless design” extends “beyond clothes, to food products (Tapatio), and even furniture.” In creating their first furniture piece, Modernica was an “obvious partner because of their authenticity and history.”
This was like a treasure hunt. Even better. Kevin Crowley, singer and designer of New York Hardcore legend The Abused and also inventor of the New York Hardcore logo, took the time to talk about his artwork with me.
His artwork is extremely rich with references and Crowley has an abundance of stories to share about it. All of these stories revolve around a larger story arch: New York City Hardcore. They are about Crowley and his buddies, their inside jokes, the films they watched, the political issues of the time that they were concerned about, the issues of the hardcore scene at the time, and 1980s North American pop culture. All of this comes alive when Crowley talks about his drawings. But as much as Crowley’s artwork tells a story about hardcore back then, it also tells a story about hardcore today. I was amazed about how much Crowley communicated with his flyers – not something one could say about flyers today. Crowley’s flyers are like one-page mini-fanzines that carry story lines from one to the other and open up a whole universe when looked at together. Crowley’s flyers also demonstrate the locatedness of hardcore in time and place and how it is changing and evolving over the years. Some references and sayings will not ring familiar to someone from a younger generation, some places are only part of the collective memory of hardcore kids but other issues will be as up-to-date as in the 1980s. Crowley speaks about all of this with reflexive closeness. Sometimes ironic, sometimes serious, sometimes very detailed, sometimes through fragments of memories, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes with a tongue-in-cheek.
This will be a series of posts. In this one I will mainly concentrate on the universe Crowley invented for The Abused and the characters that populated it: Captain Hardcore, Mr. Softy and Ronny Rotten.
Everyone who takes a closer look at Crowley’s artwork will quickly notice that The Abused was a very thought through, thought out product and nothing was left to hazard. The Abused was a marketed product. “Just because it was DIY doesn’t mean that there isn’t marketing strategy being used,” resumes Crowley when asked if he thinks that hardcore bands used branding. He tells me: “With the Abused flyers there was a very conscious effort to portray us the way I wanted people to perceive us.” “I felt that if we created enough hype about the band,” he continues, “we would build a following even if we ended up sucking (which thankfully we didn’t). That’s why I made the coming soon flyer…to hype us…well before we even had a gig booked.”
The branding had a direct influence on the look of the flyers. For the first of the The Abused flyers (on the left) Crowley used a hatch technique for shading. He started to draw a second flyer (right) in the same technique but changed it up to another flyer he drew in pointillism technique that later on became The Abused’s trademark look. “I felt the pointillism, although more tedious, gave me the ability to create greater detail,” tells me Crowley and adds: “I also did’t see anybody else using a similar style at the time, and felt this could help “brand” the band.” Crowley thus observed keenly the graphic landscape in hardcore of the time and wanted to distinguish himself already by the way he drew. But there was another way he wanted to arouse interest in his band: “Most my flyers were dominated with aggressive male imagery,” says Crowley, “which was less about girl/boy roles and more about my own psyche and a little bit of marketing. When I was in my teens I was 6’3″ and probably weighed 150 lbs soaking wet. In other words, I was pretty skinny and nowhere near as muscled as my drawings. In a strange way, drawing such strong characters helped strengthen my character (if that makes any sense). I was projecting on paper how I wanted other people to see me (as a performer), and the band.”
“Doesn’t every subculture deserve a super hero?,” asks Crowley. It is on Flyer 2 that Crowley introduces Captain Hardcore that should become the most important of his characters, reappearing on Flyer 7 and 10. The easy guess would be that it is a transformed Captain America. But “Captain Hardcore was not only a reference to Captain America, but the whole super hero genre,” explains Crowley. As every super hero, Captain Hardcore has a special power besides being able to “pretty much kick anybody’s ass”: “His real strength was in saving us from the mediocrity of main stream music/pop culture. So essentially, he was a visual metaphor for hardcore music in general.” His force was shown by him being 3D and “bursting through the paper.” (The “Now in 3D” reference was also a reference to the worldwide resurgence of 3D films in the 1980s). The personage of Captain Hardcore was “not based on anybody in particular rather an ideal masculinity that a teenage boy (me) could identify with. I had toyed with the idea of creating a background story for him and creating a comic strip but didn’t pursue it.”
But Captain Hardcore’s attire was not all Crowley’s imagination. The gloves Captain Hardcore wears became “representational of what I was wearing in real life,” says Crowley. They were “functional wear” as they would protect his hands in case of a fight: “They were durable, cheap and easily gotten at any hardware or ‘Army Navy’ store. I think originally, I ‘borrowed’ a pair of my dad’s. They also happened to be cool looking and very utilitarian.” Later on he “upped the ante” and started wearing welding gloves (which are bigger) and he drew/wrote on them to personalize them. Another accessory that Crowley and some of his friends wore and that Captain Hardcore wears on Flyer 10 and that are also featured on the “Loud and Clear” cover are heavy duty chains. These belts could be used for self defense and weren’t “considered a weapon by the cops.” But the chains were not only representative of Crowley’s own style but became, in his art, a “symbolic of societal bondage.”
Another character that evolved around a certain masculinity was Mr. Softy, a character that Crowley introduced on Flyer 3. It was meant to sarcastically comment on being “tough punks” – best summarized in the flyer’s slogan “”if you’re not there, you’re soft!.” “I think no matter how much we postured about how tough we were,” Crowley says, “I needed to keep things in perspective and not take myself too seriously.” Mr. Softy’s name came from opposing everyone’s comments on “how ‘hard’ something was, or that someone was ‘soft.’” Also, in the same vein, it made reference to Mr. Softee (with double e), which was a popular soft ice cream brand at that time.
Mister Softee van from mistersoftee.com
Crowley drew Mr. Softy to look “mega tough.” First he didn’t have a specific image in mind. While drawing, the character turned out more and more like Don Rickles’ late 1970s character C.P.O. Sharkey in a same titled American sitcom. “He [Don Rickles as C.P.O. Sharkey] would get in peoples faces and get real intense with his eyes bulging out. He looked like he would burst a blood vessel. That’s the image that etched itself into my imagination.” Mr. Softy shows his hardness especially in Flyer 6 where he is reintroduced and kills E.T.. Crowley imagined here what would have happened when E.T. would have been stranded on the Lower East Side and not in California. But there was another motivation to letting E.T. be killed: “E.T. (because of it’s popularity) represented the status quo/social norm…so killing it off felt good.” “The best E.T. is a dead E.T,” as it says on the flyer. E.T. was so popular at that time that when Crowley showed the drawing to a friend’s younger siblings, they go upset that he had killed him.
For the last character that Crowley ever introduced, he again followed the question “what would happen if?.” This is when he invented one of his favorite characters: Ronny Rotten. “I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if Ronald Reagan had a secret alter ego as a punk rocker,” explains Crowley. He drew Reagan’s profile, added three earrings and a mohawk “in Discharge fashion.” He adds: “The fact that I could play his name off of Johnny Rotten (a true punk icon) was the icing on the cake.”
This post is part of series on hardcore(-punk) layout. The complete series so far can be found here.
Some entries of my hardcore(-punk) layout series will appear on Noisey in French from time to time. They first one is up. Thanks, Rob.
Two differently shaped limited edition porcelain plates hand-painted by Guy le Tatooer in 2012-13 (both are sold out).
I can’t remember where I met Ole Peterson but I guess it was at some 108 show somewhere in Germany in the mid-1990s. Neither can I remember why we talked about photography. All I know is that I got this letter from Russia in 1995 or 1996 with these photos here for my fanzine that I was putting out at that time. Ole’s photos just catch the right raw moment; the essence of hardcore. Those are photos that made me take up the camera.
The color of some of these photos starts to fade away. This is a way of preserving them and paying homage to their author.
Courtesy of Ole Peterson (last photo is Unbroken)
Images from krink.com
“Massive,” “imposing,” “fortresslike,” “bunker-like” this is how these kind of buildings like the one above on the UC Irvine campus are very often described. This is also what intrigues me (and others) about them.
Made out of repeated modular concrete elements that often keep their rough unfinished surfaces, these buildings are classed under the label “Brutalism” – an architectural style that was a trend from the 1950s to the mid-1970s mainly in Britain, France, Germany, North America, Japan, and Australia.
There are quite a lot of webpages out there that feature these sort of buildings. I liked the fuckyeahbrtualism tumblr a lot (and all the photos underneath are taken from there) as the often grainy images they put up accentuate the special character of this architectural school.
Images except (1) from fuckyeahbrutalism.tumblr.com