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Stephen Kroninger
EXILE art
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Punk aesthetic before there was a punk aesthetic. Love this ad. I rediscovered it the other day while going through a spring straightening up in my studio. It's on the back cover of an issue of National Lampoon from 1972. The type was appropriated from a note Mick Jagger wrote to the designer. The designer is John Van Hamersveld. The image is a detail from a photo by Robert Frank. Although you could say it's an appropriation of an appropriation as Mr. Frank's photograph is a photograph of photographs.
This is sort of piggybacking on Yuko's, Joseph's, Gerard's, Robert's and even Joe's posts. Since I pretty much post my influences on Drawger all the time I thought I'd focus on just one more of the many. On the subject of influences it was the late John Lennon who said, "You see we're influenced by whatever's going."

Robert Frank, Tattoo Parlor, 8th Avenue, New York City, 1951
 I first heard EXILE ON MAIN STREET in 1972 when I was fifteen years old, the year it was released. It was my favorite Stones album then and it's my favorite Stones album now.  An advantage of growing up in the middle of nowhere, particularly in those days beyond the reach of today's media saturation, is that you didn't know what you're supposed to like and not like. You were somewhat removed from mainstream opinion. Apparently this record wasn't well recieved by the rock critics or the general public at the time but it was well recieved in my rural, bucolic village of Orefield Pennsylvania head. I played it to death that summer. I still find it's a great album to work to all these years later.
 One of the great things about vinyl was the cover art. The best ones were every bit as important as the music.  Often one would experience the cover art in the store before hearing the music at home. I remember poring over every detail of this one in the car on the way home after I bought it. It reflects the music perfectly. Then again I'd revisit the artwork every time I played the records which was often. With the exception of Cal Shenkel's work for Frank Zappa, Exile's cover was out of sync with the slicker album cover art of the early seventies. Their influence grew as the decades progressed.
 After posting the ad up on Facebook, Art Chantry chimed in about it. As he's a much more eloquent thinker than I am I'm going to quote his thoughts here. Another appropriation. How many appropriations can one blog handle? Stop me before I appropriate again! Here's Art:
"this advert (from the back of a national lampoon) is one of those images that sort of lead the way for the rest of my career. seeing this crude pre-punky thing blew me away. it was designed by the legendary john van hammersveld (the same guy who did the endless summer poster, magical mystery tour and exile on main street).

hammersveld used crude repros of famous circus sideshow acts (freaks) along with paparazzi style photos by robert frank, the same who also was hired at the same time to do a documentary film of the stones tour. it was called "cocksucker blues" and jagger immediately pulled it from circulation (it's still hard to see even now). crude sleazy and 'fuck you'. so punky.

seeing this advert back in 1971 when i was a punk kid myself, just graduating from high school and stepping into a world whose only future for ME was getting sent to the front lines of vietnam (i was 100% white trash cannon-fodder). the whole 'exile/stones' extravaganza really SPOKE to me. it was a salvation. like punk rock, it was garbage people speaking to other garbage people. it held the salvation that rock and roll represented - if you were a giant fuck-up, they didn't want you in the army (or anywhere else, either). aka- 'fly your freak flag'.

the other thing i immediately understood when i saw this advert was the whole design of it. it was so boneheaded that even a dumbshit high school kid could have done it. hammersveld instinctively went for the trashola DIY look that later was the very definition of punk design. he had no idea he was doing that - he just got lucky. however, luck is actually instinct. he had incredible instincts, that guy.

yellow flood color, red ink (actually pms process magenta at this point) for the crude clipped line-art image. the lettering was actually jagger's handwiritten notes that he sent to hammersveld (and VH actually used them straight across). how many times have i done this design? thousands? i've even done that 'use their handwriting' trick on clients a dozen times (they HATE that).

hammersveld was actually looking backward to another record cover he designed for singer claudia linear, titled "WHEW!" it's almost an identical (but slick) sister to this advert. so, he was likely just knocking out a quickie copycat of his earlier work (maybe even done at the same time - laying on the desk next to each other?) so, his instincts were really lazy, too. but, genius is seldom intentional.

this little advert basically taught me everything i actually needed to know about graphic design. after seeing this, the rest was a clear path (however crooked.) my career/life vision was established. thanks, john. you're a cantankerous old galoot, but i love ya forever!"

front cover

back cover

cover

inner gatefold

inner gatefold

inner gatefold

inner sleeve front (disc one)

inner sleeve back (disc one)

inner sleeve two (disc one)

inner sleeve two (disc two)

The original release came with a set of twelve perforated postcards. I guess the idea was to detach them in order to send them off to all your friends and spread the good word of a new Stones album. Me being me, I still have and mine they're still intact. Fortunately, someone scanned the entire set and saved me the trouble of having to do it.
Exile On Main St. postcards




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