The passing of Beastie Boys’ MCA last week has seen plenty of creative tributes circulating. In the poster above, each dot represents a word from (You Gotta) Fight for your Right (To Party), and each dot is colour coded to represent who’s singing each word. The designer, Craig Robinson, is letting you download and print it in exchange for a donation to cancer charities. Click here.
I think the poster is ‘very Beasties’. That is to say it’s playful, knowing and as graphic as the band themselves – who, from their early ‘living Budweiser’ red and white get up to the later ‘Japanese sanitation worker fights big robot’ look, always had a particular visual sensibility.
I guess all the really smart bands do – they have a genuine perspective and personality, look like a gang as much as a group and are canny enough to hire the right talent to bottle their spirit. The Beatles must be the ultimate example, but their image, as much the product of graphic designers, stylists, film-makers and others as it was themselves, always looked effortless. I suppose there was enough natural material to work with in the first place. So while their image constantly morphed and evolved, the underlying sensibility seemed coherent all along, much like the Beasties. Spike Jonze and The Fool played their parts, but they would have got nowhere if the bands themselves didn’t know who and what they were.
This sense of having a certain spirit to express isn’t always reliant on the band’s actual image. The new Saint Etienne album (as is typical of the group) features no picture of the band. But it’s as London, ‘muso’ and charming as one would expect from them. If you like your music and your parlour games, check out the detailing in the cover design. It’s a testament to any image or persona that it can be as abstracted as this or the MCA poster, and yet still have that ‘certain something’ that adds to the groups broader ‘design world’.