Blast 101

  • Level 3
  • Portfolio
  • Student Work
  • Type & Print

It’s 1914 and Percival Wyndham Lewis is sitting in a Lyon’s Corner House™ in the West End of London furiously writing Blast magazine.

He is with his ‘determined band of miscellaneous anti-futurists’ and they are inventing ‘Vorticism’, the peculiarly British strand of Modernism. Little do they know it but they are also inventing a new graphic design.

The Vorticists were angry. Angry at the sentimental fussiness of the past. Angry at their regimented art education. Angry at the Liberal homogeneity of the day.

The counterpart to this anger was humour. Whimsical lists of the good things in life – strangely unsettling in this harsh context.

Their vitriol was displayed alongside their respect using the terms BLAST and BLESS in an unprecedented exercise in nailing-colours-to-the-mast. The magazine’s bold typographic style and harsh polemic statements were antidote to the prudish Victorian past.

This was Modernism, the new angular future, and these artists called themselves Primitive Mercenaries in the Modern World.

Two years later, Vorticism was dead and so were half of its members – victims of war in the machine age.

It’s 2015 and there’s a bunch of graphic design students in a Wetherspoons™ in Bristol furiously re-writing Blast magazine. Like the Vorticists before them, they are angry.

They are angry about the price-tag on their education and the profit made from it. They are angry at analogous, risk-assessed politics. The X-Factor world of hopes and dreams. Boring shops and boring pubs.

But they are also alive – they have to live through all this shit — and it has its moments…

Re-working Blast 101 years later seems a poignant framework for both the spleen and the esteem of this generation of designers. The archaic terms BLAST and BLESS are strangely pertinent in today’s drowning-in-information world and a fitting contrast to so many

clickable likes.

So who are these new graphic designers?

Where will they be in two years time?

What world will they inhabit?

Maybe they are the new Primitive Mercenaries in the [post] Modern World ?

These next pages should tell us.

Or maybe they won’t.

Mick Sheridan

Upholsterer and Author of BAST Magazine


Publication Launch Night, Bristol County Sports Club (The Sportsman), 40 Colston Street, BS1 5EA

Friday 1 May 2015, from 18:00.


UWE Degree Show, UWE Bower Ashton Campus, BS3 2JT

Private View Friday 5 June, from 18:00

Open to the public from 6–12 June 2015


D&AD New Blood, Old Spitalfields Market, London, E1 6AA

Tuesday 30 June–2 July 2015