When we think of British graphic designers who made their mark on the aesthetic of musical movements, a couple of names spring to mind – Peter Saville and Malcolm Garrett being two prominent examples. Yet there’s a third name that should be considered alongside those revered designers, but which has largely been cast aside (probably for his persistant use of pseudonyms); Colin Fulcher, AKA, Barney Bubbles. With his early work applying fascist-style architectural and iconic references to the psychedelic movement in the ’60s through his association with acts like Hawkwind, (see the cover for Doremi Fasol Latido), he then turned his craft to British punk and subsequently post-punk, helping pioneer a lasting visual identity for those genres.
Ian Lynam’s recent essay for RBMA sheds light on Bubbles’ work. Among other enlightening passages, this one is memorable: “By cloaking punk music in a Constructivist skin, he placed the music in a historical context of similar movements. He would link the musical avant-garde of the ’70s with the visual avant-garde of the ’20s again on countless other projects, perhaps most notably on the “Blockhead” logo for Ian Dury’s backing band. This operational methodology is commonplace today – in fact, we are inundated by it. The act of historical reference, of quoting history and culture in a knowing way, is one of the tenets of postmodern design. But it’s important to remember that Bubbles (and many others) was doing this well before it was recognized as a potential way of working.”
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