Art, Literature and Punk

One of the first things people noticed about punk was the visual style of it all: its fashion and its sense of design were unlike anything that had come before it, making mashups of artistic conventions, using ransom note style typefaces, and developing “anti-fashion” sensibilities. Punk’s DIY ethos meant anybody could do it if they put effort in.

Punk and visual art go hand-in-hand. In the Southern California punk scene, the work of Raymond Pettibon helped create the aura of Black Flag and hardcore with its dark humor and stark imagery.

More the culture of punk highlighted non-traditional artistic ventures from flyer art to tattoos to comic strips.  Punk art engages both low and high art sensibilities at the same time. Local artists R.K. Kyle, Chelsea Elliot, Bill Dunlap, Jazzlyn Weaver, A.J. Small, and Jess Muessen all come from a punk tradition.

Savage Mountain Punk Arts is excited about the potential for curating art and fashion shows that highlight the visual elements of punk and artists who’ve come out of that tradition.


Some of the early punk musicians thought of themselves as poets first: Richard Hell, Patti Smith, and Jim Carroll first and foremost. John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X met at a writing workshop in L.A. before they ever thought of putting a band together. Frank Portman—Dr. Frank of San Francisco pop punk stalwarts The Mr. T Experience—is the author of three young adult novels and gave a reading in Frostburg in 2015. In the last few years, a movement of punk literature (novels and poetry collections in which punk rock plays a crucial imagistic background as well as memoirs by punks) have broken into the mainstream.

More, so much of punk literature shares a spoken word space with other traditional arts and storytelling.

But beyond the more literary endeavors of punk, punk rock spawned the notion of ‘zines: writing by fans for fans. Western Maryland birthed several of these efforts in the nineties, including Peppy’s Enema, Scream, and Fukter Faxion, which included music reviews as well as ramblings, op-ed pieces, and stories.

Savage Mountain Punk Arts is excited to be a co-sponsor of several panels at the annual Western Maryland Indie Lit Festival focused on ‘zines and writing and music. More it will be sponsoring spoken word events and working to collect oral histories to maintain the sense of the literary in punk rock, and punk in literature.