Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Art of Punk: Jonathan Minto

I’d like to apologise for taking until my 19th Art of Punk post to feature someone with more photographic-based portfolio. I love the abundance of illustration within the punk rock scene but it’s refreshing to see more abstract, graphic and photographic artwork sometimes. That’s why I really don’t know why it’s taken so long for me to write about the wonderful Jonathan Minto! I’ve been a fan of his photography, record sleeve and t-shirt designs – as well as his bass-playing and head-banging skills in Caves – for quite some time.

Jonathan Minto, or Minty, is a man of many talents. Firstly he is an extremely skilled photographer and a photographer of many different subjects at that. Of course, this being a music blog, I should start with his live music photography…

I particularly like the images with a sense of motion to them. It really captures the energetic essence of live music and makes me wish I was at a live show. His photographs of Against Me! are used as part of the band’s official website too which is awesome – check it out.

I won’t share much here – go check out the full online portfolio – but Minty also has a talent for capturing portraits and landscapes. This tree photograph in particular really caught my attention – it’s beautiful.

It’s clear from a lot of Minty’s photography that he has an eye for composition and patterns in the natural, and indeed man-made, world. They make for great standalone photographs but it’s also wonderful to see them repurposed as striking designs for music. For example, taking the texture of a stark almost black and white photograph of the sea and envisaging that it’d look great on a record sleeve – Nervous Tensions by Hot Mass.

I don’t own a copy of the Hot Mass record but I do own a number of other Minty record sleeve designs. The artwork for Great Cynics’ I Feel Weird is a classic as it’s actually a self-portrait.


When it comes to the more typographic elements of a record sleeve design, Minty generally sticks with handwritten lettering. Personally I’m a big fan of handwritten lettering – especially when it’s nice handwriting (so, perhaps not my own) – and it does generally work well for record sleeves, gig posters, t-shirts etc. It retains a sort of DIY-feel which suits the bands and, in the case of lyric sheets, makes them seem more human and relatable.

Lastly, I mentioned Minty’s eye for composition and patterns earlier… well, see how he recreates them in graphic t-shirt and/or poster designs. It’s a bit different from the highly illustrative in-your-face t-shirt designs that you typically get in punk rock but great stuff nonetheless.