Feature: Visual culture


Cute culture

The Japanese obsession with cute icons is rooted in cultural tradition

A terrible beauty

The atomic bomb’s mushroom cloud has become the logo of annihilation
Punk uncovered: an unofficial history of provincial opposition

Punk uncovered: an unofficial history of provincial opposition

British punk gave a sound, a voice and a visual currency to the disenfranchised and remote. Overlooked, uncelebrated and difficult – the output of the anonymous artworkers who packaged the vinyl spewed out by punk’s first waves captured the oppositional (and occasionally political) spirit of the time. By Russell Bestley and Ian Noble.
23 Envelope: ambience and inner space

23 Envelope: ambience and inner space

Operating undercover, using the enigmatic title of 23 Envelope, Nigel Grierson and his partner Vaughan Oliver created designs of exceptional power. Their work inspired the next generation of image-makers. By Rick Poynor

Kicking complacency in the ass

In the late 1960s, the underground press was a spontaneous and primitive rebellion against the status quo, with visual and verbal obsecnity as its most potent weapons. Sex stimulated sales, but ultimately sapped its creative radical energy

Your system sucks!

The flight from Modernism left a yearning for graphics that were rough, real, unaffected and believable. At some point, though, the downtown poster hardened into a convention

Prints of Islam

In Syria and Beirut, craftsmen make inexpensive devotional images for the workplace and home

Video to go

Video packaging is an area of graphics both marginal and ubiquitous. Who decides how it looks?

Cult of the ugly

Designers used to stand for beauty and order. Now beauty is passé and ugliness is smart. How did we get here and is there any way out?
Tokyo Salamander

Tokyo Salamander

Vaughan Oliver’s collaboration with Shinro Ohtake is an oblique diary of dreams
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