Musicians make music. Fans take that music and turn it into movements that change the world.
We produced a linoleum cut print series to celebrate the passion and style of the hard-cores.
The committed. The ones who put the “fan” in “fanatic.”
Because they don’t just listen to music. They wear it. And they live it.
Here’s to the Stereotypes.
Greased-back hair. Leather jacket. Biker boots. Levis. What began as the working-class uniform of early motorcycle gangs became the quintessential example of classic American style. It’s been appropriated over the years by hippies, metalheads, grunge fans and, well, the rest of the goddamn world. (BTW, you’re welcome, rest of the goddamn world).
Born from rockers. Stripped down. Spiked up. And slammed together with three chords, spit and safety pins at hole-in-the-wall clubs in NYC and London. Its signature look has influenced fashion designers from Vivienne Westwood to Versace. Today, this most counter of countercultures lives on wherever there are young (and not-so young) people looking to make a personal statement about their view of the world. Long live Punk.
Go ahead and mock if you must, but disco had style. Tailored suits. Sequined dresses. All enhanced with a kilo of 70s Euroglam. At the discotheque, you had to stand out to fit in. Oh, and disco didn’t die, it mutated. Because there will always be those who live to move gracefully around a dance floor in a killer outfit. The rainbow colored, spandex-suited genie will not be going back into the bottle.
After black artists had their music appropriated in the 50s by white rock ‘n’ roll acts, they spray-painted a defiant line in the sand with hip-hop, changing the course of music and fashion forever. The fusion of fresh beats and sportswear exploded on the streets of urban America, ultimately becoming a unifying style from the ‘hood to the ‘burbs. Today, hip-hop has gone global and can be found on runways from NYC to Tokyo.
Early performers at the Grand Ole Opry were not afraid to flash some sequins or floral appliqué. Their fans have been dazzled and inspired ever since. Country girls and boys certainly know how to rock (so to speak) the style. The woman portrayed here refers to herself as a “Country Chick,” and will gladly kick your ass if you have a problem with that.
A personal print series and self-promtional piece
For several months the Stereotypes idea was stuck in my head. It wasn’t so much the play on words or double entendre (if that’s what it is) that intrigued me. The historical mix of music, fashion and style felt like an interesting concept.
I wanted a project to sink my linoleum carving tools into but also thought the studio was due for some sort of self promotional piece.
I decided the Stereotypes series could work for both.
So with my mind made up that the series would become a direct mail promotion, I got to work on creating the art prints as well as the graphic bits and pieces that make for a pleasing package to find in the mailbox!
The first order of business was a logo. The styles and music genres depicted in the series cover several decades, but the 1970s were a particularly fun and funky time in music history. So a custom drawn disco-esque logotype it would be!
A tag line was needed to punctuate the campaign.
“Hardcore fans and classic music styles” nicely summed up the Stereotypes idea.
Button stickers to use online and on envelopes.
I thought they were called badges but after a little fiddling with the Google search query I now know they are known as pin buttons. These little round discs emblazoned with miscellaneous pictures, phrases and slogans are popular with politicians and have been around for ages. Hippies and punks liked to sport them but vintage pin buttons can be found for almost any music genre.
Round stickers, 1½” in diameter (a common size for actual pin buttons), were created to stick on the outside of the mailer envelope. The illustrations and custom lettering were also formatted and repurposed, as shown above, to use as Instagram posts.
The buttons mark these musical moments:
With Love From Ringo Starr - When being interviewed about the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night, an American reporter famously asked Ringo “Are you a mod or a rocker?” and Ringo replied “Um, no. I’m a mocker.” The quote and this early Beatles button were used as reference for the illustration.
God Save the Queen - The cover of The Sex Pistol’s record, designed by Jamie Reid, is one of the most famous of all time. The image was also a popular punk era button that I paid homage to with the sticker.
Kiss 98.7 FM - New York City’s Kiss FM was one of the first radio stations in the country to feature the pioneers of hip-hop in the early 1980s. The story goes that a younger programming director at Kiss, Barry Mayo, wanted to unseat market leaders WBLS, the country’s first black-owned station. Apparently Mr. Mayo was not that keen on hip-hop himself but decided to play a new band called Run DMC. The listeners loved it and suddenly so did Mayo! Kiss FM was bought out in 2012 and changed to a sport radio format.
Let’s Boogie! Man - This funny little fellow was frequently seen in the 1070s. The dapperly dressed, long nosed dude could be spotted on t-shirts, posters and other paraphernalia. His similarity to Mr. Natural and the Keep on Truckin’ characters suggests he was probably created by the cult comic book artist R. Crumb but I could not confirm this after searching online. It appears to me as though some of the Let’s Boogie merchandise was designed by the great cartoonist himself but other pieces look like they could be knock-offs. We’ll probably never know for sure.
All the pin button stickers were meant to be tributes to the various moments and artists in musical history as well as a way to dress up the outside of the direct mail piece.
The direct mail package
Above are a few images of the finished direct mail promotion piece. The elements included:
Return mailing label on the outside envelope styled like a 1970s record album label complete with a drilled hole in the middle.
Three button stickers were used on the outer heavy cardboard envelope.
Each set of 9“x12” prints was packaged in a protective translucent envelope along with a Stereotypes branded cover sheet. The Stereotypes logo shows through the vellum envelope.
The 4th sticker, Let’s Boogie, was used as a decorative seal on the back flap of the translucent envelope.
The Stereotypes series message was printed on the back of the cover sheet.
Copywriting for the piece was done by the fantastic writer and big-time music fan Steven Romanenghi. Steve was my copywriting partner when I worked at Leo Burnett in Chicago.
Creating an edition of the Stereotypes print series.
The entire first edition of the print series was used for gifts and the direct mail promotion. I will be printing another small edition that will be for sale soon.
I’ll probably sell the prints individually but would prefer to offer them as sets. The series tells the entire story, plus I think the 5 prints make a nice feature on a blank piece of wall!
If anyone is interested in buying a print or the set, please drop me a line or leave a comment below. It will help me decide on the size of the edition. The edition will likely be small, probably 25 or 30 of each of the 5 prints.