B1 – Buzzcocks
The finished version of the Buzzcocks’ logo, or at least the 7-inch single it appeared on, was 21-year-old Manchester Poly design student Malcolm Garrett’s third paid job*. He received £100 for his troubles.
Garrett was introduced to the band in 1977 through Linder, a mutual acquaintance in the year above, who was studying illustration. His first commission (a freebie) was a series of screen-printed posters to promote live gigs, and this featured a proto-version of the final logo, with its distinctive, elongated double-Z’s already in place.
He’d used the largest sized Compacta Regular Italic Letraset he could find, rubbed down the relevant letters, photographed them, printed them onto bromide paper, sliced them down the middle, stuck them down on board, and inked in the gap in Rotring pen. “It was a bit tricky, particularly to get the typeface thin enough,” he recalls. But he wasn’t quite happy with this early incarnation. “I felt The spacing around the Zs wasn’t quite right, so I modified them,” he recalls.
The new and improved logo duly took pride of place in the bottom right corner of ‘Orgasm Addict’ — in a dark blue, running on the vertical. Its forward-slanting letterforms give it a sense of attack, the outsize Z’s a jagged punky edge. It was accompanied by a striking montage of an iron-headed woman created by Linder. The iron came from an Argos catalogue, while the female torso was lifted from a ‘top shelf’ magazine.
Garrett claims he didn’t really have a rationale for the design. “I could say it was a reflection of their fast, abrasive, yet still quite sophisticated style,” he says. “But it just felt right, and they liked it. At 20 you go with your intuition and wilful energy, you don’t have the burden of experience. And you don’t get two chances to do a Buzzcocks logo that will be timeless.”
However, Garrett certainly knew what he didn’t want — home-made stencil or ‘blackmail letter’ collage style, the already tired visual vernacular of Punk. Or anything like the more typical mainstream band logos of the era, with their slick, quasi-3D chrome aesthetic that would have looked more at home on the back of a car. “You should have seen some of the logos back then,” he says, in mock horror. “Sailor! I mean Sailor! I wanted Buzzcocks’ logo to be flat and 2D, relatively plain and really fresh,” he says.
Like any strong graphic device, Buzzcocks’ logo could be rendered in all kinds of ways, yet still be instantly recognised. Garrett variously experimented with a brush script version, a fine-line pen version and a cut-out paper version. “I think this artfully demonstrates the power of an icon — anyone can draw it and anyone can recognise a drawing of it,” he says.
He’s quick to point out the irony that the band’s biggest-selling single, ‘Ever Fallen In Love’, didn't feature the original logo on the front cover at all, but a softer, hand-painted interpretation of it.
*The first was £100 for coming fourth in a logo competition. The second £50 for designing a booklet for a local church.