What once started as artistic expression has gradually adapted into a profitable device by corporate entities. Grunge art is now appearing to the contemporary youth market in a range of new media formats.
For this reason, many artists practising grunge styles are able to operate professionally within the music and apparel industries. Designer Frank Major agrees: “The style is everywhere and seems to permeate through a load of themes, though in essence it works best in an anti-corporate, left-field sense.”
This style’s ties to the music industry run deep, still heavily adopted by both the punk and metal music scenes for album cover artwork. “I think you’ve got to look back to the punk era for pioneers,” reveals Major. “Jamie Reid springs to mind. His style was a point-blank graphic version of the music of the time.”
Graphic designer Maarten Kleyne’s own application, however, wasn’t driven by commerce. He explains: “I often felt that without it an image was too smooth, so grunge was a good way to add some rawness… and make it feel less smooth.”
He adds: “Personally I think a grunge style is cool when it’s incorporated to strengthen the rest of a design. Grunge should add to the artwork, not be the artwork itself.”
But Kleyne thinks that the potential themes of this style have expanded exponentially. “An increasing amount of websites make proper use of subtle grunge textures,” he says. “In the jazz artist Rob Mostert’s vinyl sleeve I only used it in a very minimal way. It took away a lot of the flatness of the orange background. I think the main theme for grunge is anything that wants to make a bolder statement.”
AP: What inspired your own application of grunge styles?
Maarten Kleyne: I’m not entirely sure if there was anything that consciously inspired my own use of grunge in design. I wasn’t giving it much deliberate thought at the time, but when I still followed tutorials earlier on, the use of textures to add a grunge feeling or more depth to an image were very common. A lot of those tutorials I believe were from Adam Smith at Advanced Photoshop, so in a way your magazine mostly inspired my own grunge styles.
AP: Which specific themes do you think are more popular with grunge styles?
Maarten Kleyne: I think metal music is one of them. Because it’s such a cliché to use it there. People are used to it, it’s some sort of comfort zone people have created for it. It’s raw, gritty and sits well with dark images, so this connects with the music themes.
AP: How do you apply Photoshop to create your grunge styles?
Maarten Kleyne: I have several layers with textures lying on top of each other with varying blending modes set, which makes them blend into one another. This creates a totally new image that still feels natural. These details and effects are amplified whenever I add adjustment layers on top.