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2 “In Tacoma, one does not merely shoot another in the head. In Tacoma, they find your decapitated skull in a paper bag tossed behind some bushes with “Do not open till X-mas” scrawled on the side with a magic marker” Hailing from one of the scummiest, most depressing places in the US, Art Chantry was a perfect product of his environment. Most known for his posters and band album covers such as The Sonics, Flaming Lips and Nirvana. He walked the line between precise, letter-pressed type and chaotic collage. Like the counterculture icons he designed for, he was a counterculture icon in his grungy, loud, crude and wild design style. As a poster designer, he was the 1970’s and 1980’s equivalent of todays propaganda style street artists. His style was demonstrating grunge qualities way before the 90’s and the grunge movement became evident.

Logos: 1986-7 retail logos and labels (left): 1985 poster for New City Theatre


Chantry’s style is best recognized by his ability to lift vintage images and juxtapose large, often destroyed, damaged text while applying his own style to the images. His style suits the hot rod and punk band culture he represents in his posters, album covers and logos while still showing his attentiveness to precise placement, size relations and choice of color.

Working hand’s on is another

great influence of Chantry’s style. He describes enjoying moving around pieces of paper and type, admitting that if he had to sit in front of a screen all day, he would lose his mind. He even admits to resisting push-button phones, still using a rotary dial telephone in his office.

(clockwise from top): 1989 logo for K2 snowboards, logos from 1986 Union Sportswear, LP design for band “Thee Headcoats” (right): 1994 Posters for Rhino Records

k n i h t I d n a , m s i r , u m o e r t f a e m m o a c f o s a n e a d f i g i “I’m a b m is where all new s i ” r e u e m t o a r d m n a y s f l e s r u o y the do-itArt Chantry is extremely particular about his choice of clientele, rarely working for large corporate companies. In the past he has turned down companies such as Coca-cola, Nike and Microsoft. On the other hand, he has accepted jobs from clientel he defines as “sociopaths.” In a interview with Lonnie Stacatto, he admitted to working for pimps, pornographers, drug dealers and at one point considered working for a South American gun-runner.

Chantry’s opinion about

working for these characters is that they are no different from corporate businessmen. In fact, he claims that “ all businessmen are sociopaths” and that America rewards those without conscious. In this way, business executives are no better than pimps and drug dealers in Chantry’s opinion.

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In the 1970’s, when Chantry moved to Seattle, he became the creative and visually inspiring talent his clients needed to push, promote and stoke their causes. He designed large, loud

posters that were a perfect mixture of the chaos of collage and the clarity of type.


serving as Art Director for Seattle’s free tabloid, The Rocket, he coordinated artists and designers alike on a low budget, creating inspiring work that continue to be admired. Although Chantry has been designing through the time of transition to designing on computers, he has refused to turn to technology and in fact frequently speaks out against it.

ds on t his han u o b a d e k sses it as u When as c is d y r nt tyle, Cha 998 design s n. In a 1 g i s e d d o ity of go at a necess tioned th n e m y r t , Chan nical interview s a “tech a h n g i s s, de eve nowaday ople beli e p t a h t ge base,” es knowled er involv n g i s e d raphic esign being a g ding of d n a t s r e d m un only a fir s. program r e t u p m co

One of Chantry’s most co mpelling point is that designers ha ve spent their lives dedicated to se parating Graphic Design as an ar t form. Chantry believes that the fact businesses are now staying in-house for their designs and using designe rs as the engineers for making de signs come to life is ridiculous and destr oys graphic designers’ credibility. Only when someone has experience in fundamental, hands on design do they gain the essential

skills to create great designs. This is one of the key factors that as played into the fact that Chantry still designs strictly by hand and avoids computers.

Band Logos (left): Tribute poster


“and because everybody has got a computer now, and everybody can buy a design disk, prices are dropping and we have to buy $20,000 worth of equipment just to maintain the lowest level of competency, and at the same time we’re expected to take on all these additional skills at no extra charge. I mean, how long are we gonna put up with this shit? That’s ridiculous. That’s just absurd. But everybody in the design industry just embraces it as “it’s progress, it’s wonderful,” but it’s not when you think about it, we’re just getting screwed.”

(top): 1996 t-shirt design (Right): Poster for 1986 Give Peace a Dance for Legs Against Arms

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y, Art. Interview by Jaime Sheehan. Personal interview. Seattle, Washington, May 1, nThe Art Cha 1998. “Hot Head: w.” Estrus tr y Intervie p://www. Records. htt interviews/ l (accessed hothead.htm 3). pril 23, 201 Lasky, Ju lie, A and Art Chantr y. S ome people can’t surf: the g rap Art Chantr hic design of y. co: Chronic San Francisle Books, 2001. bitions: xhi , PS1: E eatest Hits A M r / G : “Mo : p y t / hantr S1. ht s/ P A Art C M n .” Mo ibitio Vol. 1 April p ed moma 97 (access 1 view/ 3). 1 23, 20

Art Chantry  
Art Chantry  

Viewbook describing the life and works of designer Art Chantry