The origins of Punk in the mid-1970s lay in the realities of disaffected working-class urban youth with little hope of employment, housing, and a meaningful future. The music, fashion and graphic design that emerged during this time was often concerned with political issues such as social injustice and economic disparity.
Usually straightforward, with clear messages, punk graphic design was often in black and white and often homemade using production techniques of cut-n-paste letterforms, photocopied and collaged images, hand-scrawled text. This DIY aesthetic was applied to posters, album covers and low-tech fanzines such as Sniffin Glue, which contained crudely designed pages, graffiti-like insertions and typographic errors, as well as torn-out letters from other sources.
Such ideas gained wider currency in the Punk music scene with record covers for companies like Factory Records and Stiff Records and the emergence of designers like Jamie Reid, who designed the controversial sleeve for the Punk band the Sex Pistols' single God Save the Queen of 1977, showing the defaced head of Queen Elizabeth II.
Graphic designers such as Reid, Malcolm Garrett, and Peter Saville, all closely associated with Punk music graphics, had all attended art school and, with others such as Neville Brody, revitalized graphic design through harnessing the vitality and iconoclasm of Punk to graphic skills and an awareness of Postmodern eclecticism. However, like many radical challenges to conventional lifestyles any threat was removed by the commercialization of the style, as had been the case with hippies and Psychedelia in the previous decade.