Jamie Reid the infamous British artist and graphic designer best known for his iconic and influential work within the realm of Punk Rock and political activism has died aged 76. Born on January 29, 1947, in London, Reid’s innovative and provocative visual style played a significant role in shaping the Punk aesthetic of the late 1970s.
Reid gained widespread recognition for his collaboration with the punk band the Sex Pistols. He designed the album cover and promotional materials for the band’s seminal album “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” released in 1977. His work for the Sex Pistols is characterised by its use of cut-and-paste collage techniques, ransom note-style lettering, and bold graphics. One of his most famous creations is the “God Save the Queen” artwork, ( see above) featuring Queen Elizabeth II.
Beyond his work with the Sex Pistols, Reid was heavily involved in the Punk and countercultural scene of the time. He created artwork for other punk bands and activists, using his designs to convey anti-establishment messages and critique social norms. His artistic approach was strongly influenced by Situationist ideas and the concept of détournement, which involves repurposing existing images or symbols for new meanings.
Jamie Reid’s art extends beyond music into political activism. He was actively engaged in various social and political causes, using his artwork as a means of protest and commentary. His collaborations with anarchist and activist groups often blended art and politics to challenge authority and promote social change.
Reid’s legacy continues to influence contemporary art, design, and cultural movements. His rebellious and confrontational style paved the way for the fusion of art, music, and political expression that became a hallmark of punk culture. His work serves as a reminder of the power of visual communication to challenge the status quo and provoke thought.
He collaborated with the punk historian Jon Savage on a book of his work, Up They Rise: The Incomplete Works of Jamie Reid, published in 1987. “I first met Jamie in late 1978,” Savage says. “I remember walking upstairs in a house, and there were these trunks full of Sex Pistols artwork. The combined impact of that made an indelible impression – it was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This was something very important that needed to be preserved.”
Savage pinpoints Reid’s style as containing “complex ideas in an apparently simple format. It’s not black and white, whereas a lot of punk iconography was – here was something that was intensely colourful and very, very simple”.
He said that Reid’s grounding in radical politics gave “an added element of sophistication. In comparison to some of the rather tawdry and imitative punk graphics, Jamie’s came from a deep place.”
Jamie Reid’s influence on art and culture remains significant.