The acute above the é of the guillotiné

Cut / Slash / Chop / Slice / Shatter

Guillotiné Headline

This Headline got me thinking. That accent above the É, I thought it was called a grave (which would have been fitting) but it is in-fact an acute accent (which is all the more fitting considering the meaning of the word, acute), only used over the e by the French, for me it took on a conceptual turn. The accent looks almost like a guillotine blade lowering into that E and that got me thinking about cutting up text, which led me to the 70s typeface, Shatter.

Shatter was designed by British designer Vic Carless in 1973 for Letraset. It is basically a chopped-up, agitated version of the modernist Helvetica, perfect for the postmodern zeitgeist.

shatter preview

Shatter designed by Vic Carless for Letraset 1973

As I started to research I began to find that the typeface was quite poignant and started to tie in a few things, it seemed to epitomise the time, along with typewriter type and the cut and paste DIY aesthetic of punk.

Shatter was used for AC/DC’s Logo and title on their 1978 album Powerage. The Lighting bolt was a significant discovery as it tied in the New York Blackout of July 13 1977.



AC/DC Logo as used on their 1978 Powerage Album

AC/DC Powerage 1978

AC/DC Powerage 1978

Talking Heads

Talking Heads, Psycho Kileer single, 1977

Talking Heads, Psycho Killer single, 1977

This cover of Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer sums up the tension surrounding the summer of ’77 in New York City with the psychopathic serial killings of David Berkowitz a.k.a ‘Son of Sam’ who was still at large during the New York Blackout. Those lightning strikes and the subsequent blackout seemed to break the tension and flip the circuit breaker somehow, and things began to change in NY. Berkowitz was caught in August and a new mayor was elected to office later that year.

This idea of the psychopath being someone who is shattered, cracked and broken is illustrated well by Carless’ Shatter but clearly the psychopath wasn’t the only thing that was broken during the 70s, it became a metaphor for society as a whole and this manifest itself in the DIY techniques of collage used by the newly emerging Punks. The general sense of anxiety and paranoia in the face of economic hardships and the threat of the cold war, and the gradual entropy of the modernist ideology. This edgy, jittery, violent postmodern aesthetic was a mirror on the time.

Jamie Reid's cover for the Sex Pistol's Nevermind the Bollocks, 1977

Jamie Reid’s cover for the Sex Pistol’s Nevermind the Bollocks, 1977

Dracula 1973

Poster for Dan Curtis’ version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula staring Jack Palance, 1973

This slashed up type got me looking more at collage, and through research into Linder Sterling, Punk zines and LP covers, I discovered the photo collages of John Stezacker and the prollages and rollages of Jiří Kolář, but i’ll talk about these in another post.

Jiří Kolář Hommage a Baudelaire, 1963, Collage, 45x35cm

Jiří Kolář Hommage a Baudelaire, (Detail) 1963, Collage, 45x35cm

Other cut up, slashed or otherwise distressed typefaces

Lee Booth, Please Keep Clear, iPhone 4s photo, digital image (Jpg), 2015, 2448 × 2448px

Lee Booth, Please Keep Clear, iPhone 4s photo, digital image (Jpg), 2015, 2448 × 2448px

The Clash

the clash

The Clash 1977 White riot

The Clash 1977 White riot

The Clash White Riot Tour 1977

The Clash White Riot Tour 1977

Lou Reed – Transformer

Lou Reed transformer-type 1972

Lou Reed Transformer, 1972, Produced by david bowie and Mick Ronson.

Lou Reed Transformer, 1972, Produced by david bowie and Mick Ronson.

Psycho (1960)


Psycho Robert Bloch, first edition cover logotype, 1959, published by Simon & Schuster


The Bantam Book cover of Robert Bloch’s Psycho, published 1969

American Psycho

The psycho continues to be a source of fascination for us

Christian Bale in Mary Harron's movie, American Psycho, 2000

Christian Bale in Mary Harron’s movie, American Psycho, 2000

cover of Bret Easton Ellis' Novel, American Psycho, 1991

cover of Bret Easton Ellis’ Novel, American Psycho, 1991


And some more recent cut ups…

The Edge Amsterdam


Clash TV series (France)



AC/DC Design

Shatter on

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