Well-done GOTH?

I'm looking for some examples of very well designed GOTH graphics for a student of mine who is doing a design project on Goth fashion labels. Can anyone offer some names of designers or links to their work that I can show her?

Frankly, I'm at a loss. It's a genre I know very little about, past its typical penchant for using Blackletter (mostly due to Nazi appropriation). And honestly, all the typical band posters and skateboarder fashions I've seen in the Goth genre fall squarely into the cheesy category.....poor layout, muddy hierarchy, bad legibility, overly dramatic or contrasty color palettes....just bad design in general.

Have any serious and skilled designers or firms taken up goth graphics and produced any exemplary bodies of work?

Thanks for reading

Tomi from Suomi's picture

Hi, Darrin-

I'm no expert on goth fashion or ideology, but I do know that you've got that Nazi thing totally wrong. Blackletter type comes from Medieval (or Gothic) origins. Maybe you confuse Goths with Skinheads?

blank's picture

What you call goth design looks that way on purpose. It’s a manufactured counterculture created in the late 90s and early 00s by record companies and stores like Hot Topic for the purpose of reinforcing the us-vs-them mentality of social cliques. You won’t find examples that look good from the mindset of a design teacher hung up on traditional notions of good design because the entire point of this aesthetic is to be condemned as ugly by people who are not part of the group that identified with it, thus allowing that group to wallow in their self-identification as outsiders. If the design started too look professional then it gets associated with mainstream pop culture and would no longer be commercially viable.

jacobsievers's picture

James is right - though I would point out that the genre has its roots in the post-punk of the seventies and owes much to the Velvet Underground, Warhol, Jasper Johns, etc.

Try examining specific instances of design irony: Blackletter type, excessive ornamentation, etc.

Steven Acres's picture

Can you be more specific what you mean by "goth." That means different things to different people.

aluminum's picture

Hot Topic didn't manufacture it, though they've repurposed and commodified it.

I don't think it has anything to do with Nazis...the blackletter more likely comes from Goth's music roots in 80's punk and metal.

Wikipedia has an OK overview that should point you towards plenty of historical references to base designs off of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goth_subculture

Jonathan Clede's picture

I agree that you'll need to clarify what you mean by goth. Since you mentioned fashion labels, you're probably thinking of something more recent. But when I think of the gothic subculture, the first thing that comes to mind is Bauhaus's Bela Lugosi's Dead from 1979. The single looks like this:


You can't get any more gothic, but the type alone doesn't say that.

In 1982, Christian Death was doing something more obvious:


I suspect this is related to black metal lettering. Maybe that's more like what passes for goth these days.

This is from Southern Death Cult in 1983, and it was too lovely not to include:

Dunno, maybe that information will give you starting point?

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