The Power of Black Flag

Posted by // November 23rd, 2012 // Graphic Design No Comments »

Over the decades iconography has become an essential way for bands to market their music and generate additional publicity. They have also helped to generate additional revenues through T-shirt sales and other merchandise (alongside record sales and touring) to sustain musicians who are trying to earn a living through their craft. An iconic image can grow to define a subculture, even reaching popular mainstream society in some cases. Using the punk genre as an example, this scene has always produced bands that have utilised this basic idea. With a do-it-yourself attitude leading to homemade merchandise and fan-led promotion, their vision, beliefs (often supporting a strong political and/or societal view) and music can lead to further popularity.

Today we focus specifically on influential hardcore punk band Black Flag. Formed in California during the mid 1970s, the band became popular because of their anti-authoritarian stance and lyrics that highlighted non-conformist issues which related to their youthful audience. They were also recognised for their experimental sound which differed greatly to their contemporaries of the time.


Source: Sarri Sarri | distro & records

Their iconic logo symbolised the band’s focus on rebellion and was the exact opposite of a white flag (symbolising defeat and surrender). Designed by Raymond Pettibon, brother of Greg Ginn (guitarist and song-writer), the logo and additional related artwork was used on merchandise, flyers and albums / singles covers. The font used for the band’s logo and additional artwork was Friz Quadrata bold, which was used by other bands such as Bad Religion and The Offspring.


Source: johnwilliamsphd

The logo soon began appearing across Los Angeles, graffitied onto public and private property. The increasing presence of Black Flag in California and further afield led to the logo becoming synonymous with the music. It has continued in its popularity into the twenty-first century with tattoos and alternative T-shirts including Seinfeld, Tegan and Sara, Cat Flag and Beach Boys. People with the Black Flag logo tattooed onto their body include musician Dave Grohl and actor Edward Norton. Johnny Depp also has a three bar version on his right index finger.

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