Quick Book Review: “Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk and Post-Punk Graphic Design” by Andrew Krivine
This is a big, heavy coffee-table book about the graphic design of the punk music scene. The author, an American, became obsessed with UK punk in 1977. (I did, too, so I can relate.) He found the graphic design of punk records, posters, buttons, and fliers fascinating, and he began collecting them. His collection grew to massive proportions. This book contains hundreds of graphic images from his archives, which is arguably the largest collection of punk and post-punk graphic art in the world, as well as a few short, incisive essays by him and others. The genres covered are fairly broad: some proto-punk (Velvet Underground, NY Dolls), American hardcore, goth, post-punk, etc., but the main focus is on UK punk. Music, fashion, and graphic design have always been linked, but the graphics have probably not been so tightly associated with one particular genre of music as much as it has with punk. Many British punk bands forged enduring partnerships with graphic designers and art directors (as opposed to the 50’s and 60’s, when record labels had salaried design staff that were expected to create covers on a piecework basis, with minimal focus on the genre or performer.) This wasn’t as common in the US as it was in the UK. The printing and paper stock is high quality. Seeing the graphics of the bands that I loved at the time (The Clash, Sex Pistols, Jam, X-ray Spex, Buzzcocks) brought back great memories, and also increased my appreciation for the talent of these designers. For punk fans who appreciate graphic design, or for graphic designers who appreciate punk. Whatever. It’s a great book.