Paul Rand “Good Design Is Good Will” 1987 from  Graphic Design Theory: Readings From the Field page 64-69 and Steven Heller Underground Mainstream” in Design Observer 2008.

  • Is the concept of mainstream vs. underground relevant in advertising of 1950’s / 1960’s and is it relevant today?
  • What is “culture jamming”?
  • Provide a visual example and description of early avant-garde culture jamming.
  • Provide a visual example and description of culture jamming today.

I believe that the concept of mainstream vs underground was relevant during the advertising of the 50s and 60s because, during that time, mainstream advertising could be seen drawing heavily from alternative cultures such as punk and psychedelic. Psychedelic culture was especially appropriate during the 60s and could be seen on everything from band posters to mainstream television programs. The mainstream vs underground was clearly relevant during that time as underground cultures such as the psychedelic were being appropriated and used by the mainstream to the point that it became oversaturated and the trend for that decade.

Culture jamming is a form of protest done by anti-consumerist protestors. They draw appropriate trends in culture from the mainstream but instead, they use it to create works that satirize mainstream culture, politics, and society. Culture jamming art is meant to call out the hypocrisy of the mainstream and big corporations as well as to make fun of current trends in culture and society. One such example of culture jamming during the early avant-garde era was the work by futurist artists. These artists created art that strayed away from the avant-garde principles of clarity in favor of creating art that emphasized dynamic movement, speed, and even violence.

Today, there can be many examples of culture jamming seen mocking corporations and society. Hundreds of American artists have created art that makes fun of cultural trends, politics, and society as a whole. This was especially prevalent during the 2000s with the presidency of George W. Bush and even today with the presidency of Donald J. Trump where he was endlessly mocked by independent artists and mainstream culture alike.

Hypothesis Annotations

  1. paucity
  2. What might entitle these items to the “good design” accolade is their practicability and their beauty, both of which are embodied in the idea of quality.
  3. It is in the very solution of these problems—well-designed advertisements, packaging, products, and build-ings—that a corporation is able to help shape its environment, to reach and to influence the taste of vast audiences.
  4. Psychedelic art was a distinct vocabulary, influenced by earlier graphic idioms, that overturned the rigid rules of clarity and legibility put forth by the once avant-garde Moderns.
  5. Conversely, even before the mainstream began leeching off alternative cultures, the underground satirically appropriated from the mainstream. Today it’s called “culture jamming,”
  6. Paradoxically, Ballyhoo, MAD, and Wacky Packs were all mass-market products, but because of their respective exposure each had an influence on the kids who grew up to produce the icons of alternative culture.