instant litter: waiting for a rise from the rubble

When there is no more negation to negate. Art looks back at the punk scene and what lessons can be learned, or unlearned…

Art Chantry (

Back in around 1984, I put together a little book about Seattle punk posters called “Instant Litter.” It was a local hit and I think I gave away more copies than we sold. I sent a copy to the ‘books collection’ at the Museum of Modern Art and they liked it enough to stock it in their book shop there. So, the largest distributor of my book about cheezy Seattle punk posters’ biggest distributor became the MOMA in NYC. Crazy, huh? They sold more copies there than anywhere else.

---AC:who is this band on the poster? some american group, no doubt or they wouldn't be politically defacing the american flag like that in such a blatantly political act in a military town like orting (home of the veterans hospital). is it the sludge dumpsters? Read More:

The other funny thing about that was that once I had published a book – I was taken seriously by people who previously ignored me. Suddenly doors opened up for me. I was asked my opinion. I was allowed in the door to present myself. I started get serious work. It was so strange. Suddenly I was known. I think the moral of this little tale is that if you want to be taken seriously in your field – write a book (any book, not matter how trite). That gives you instant cred. Stupid but true.

I found this poster in Orting, Washington (near mt. rainier out in the puckerbrush south of puyallup). It was hanging on the bulletin board of a cute little homey cafe (where little old ladies serve homemade pie) next to some real estate biz cards and some signs trying to sell puppies and used sporting equipment. It advertises a show at the Fox Hollow coffee shop on Friday, april 29 at 7pm. It features the gentle tones of “the hyper-space dumpsters, the sludge junkies & cycrops II (and more!).”

---This book came out right as the punk movement was losing steam, so it's an interesting look back at the scene right before it became less relevant. Most of the posters in this collection are from the D.I.Y. aesthetic and thus are generally by the groups they're promoting. This is another all black and white collection, because the posters were originally b&w photocopies to begin with. Most posters are presented three or four to a page with a handful as a full size page with small commentary.--- Read More:

This looks almost identical to the posters I found on the walls of Seattle promoting extremely early DIY punk shows in Seattle back in 1978! But this one was out in the boonies in a podunk town with a conservative religious population of a few hundred! Amazing,huh? The trick is that it took thirty-five years to get there. I pulled this off the wall a month ago. It looks almost identical to several of the posters I published in that book all those years ago.

Art Chantry. Read More:

One of the things I find so interesting about punk is that it exploded everywhere all at once. Yes, people have traced precedents (the british claim punk started in tacoma washing with a band called the sonics.) But as soon as it popped up in New York City (it’s home according to critics) bands were also performing and releasing records in places like Detroit, Boston, Los Angeles, Akron, and even Texas. when the London punk scene became such a media baby, the rest of the world copy-catted almost within minutes. Punks traveled across the planet in a period of six months. I saw my first punk poster hanging on a wall in Bellingham, Washington, sixty miles away from the Canadian border.

---Tina Turner; Annie Rose. University of Washington, Seattle, 1983. Artist: Art Chantry. With some exceptions, 1970s posters from the Pacific Northwest are a stodgy lot. But as the end of the decade approached, excellent work began to emerge from the burgeoning new wave and punk scene. Indeed, relative

solated from the rest of the country, Seattle developed its own indigenous punk aesthetic. Art Chantry is currently one of the best poster designers working in the Pacific Northwest. Not only an excellent illustrator and draftsman, he has chronicled the popular aesthetics of his region with a book on the Seattle punk and new wave poster art, called Instant Litter (1985).--- Read More:

It took the hippies several years to become the dominant bohemian culture. The beats remained obscure. 70′s/disco took at least a half decade to become the dominant style in pop culture. Punk happened like a nuke – wham!

So, now 35 years later it trickled all the way into the furthest reaches of our chard culture. If you’ve ever seen Orting, you’ll know it’s reached it’s endpoint. It can’t go no further away from it’s source. It’s become as common a cliche as a hippie or a beatnik or a drag queen. Whenever I see some kid walking down the street with leather and chains and a pink mohawk (yes, you still see that now and then) ,I want to lean out my window and shout, “go make your OWN culture, ya copycat!” I mean, that was played into the ground thirty-five years ago. Can’t anybody come up with anything new anymore?

---Some artists define a city or a scene just as well, if not more so, than all the journalists and self-appointed experts who traditionally report on it. Chantry is one of those people whose past-is-present and future-is-now artwork is instantly recognizable to even those who may not know his name, or that he is one of the most innovative and knowledgeable creators and thinkers to come out of Seattle.--- Read More:

But, they won’t. They can’t. Punk was about negation. When everything is finally negated, what ya got? We may have to wait a long time for a new pop culture of import to rise from the rubble left behind in the wake of punk.

---Sonics Poster for Halloween concert, The Paramount, Seattle, October 31, 2008 Poster Design by Art Chantry--- Read More:

Related Posts

This entry was posted in Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Marketing/Advertising/Media, Modern Arts/Craft and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>