The Jolly Roger

Observations: 20/3/12 – 21/3/12

I’m beginning to recognise the skull in fashion, advertising, cars, television, graphic design, art, music and film everyday. There are lots of people from different styles, groups and cultures that wear t-shirts, bags or pieces of jewellery with the skull. The Jolly Roger does appear to be a very popular image, which also makes a very frequent appearance on a daily basis.


While driving I also recognised the Jolly Roger on the back of the car in front. The image did become an area of interest, which highlighted why the Jolly Roger has become such a Popular form of representation.

Jolly Roger:

According to Anistatia R. Miller, Jared M. Brown and Cheryl Dangel Cullen, the ‘Jolly Roger’ was used amongst pirates during the 1800’s. The image is also very popular amongst “Bikers, punks and goths” who consistently display the ‘Jolly Roger’. The image is also displayed on products that warn the consumer if a particular substance is potentially hazardous or dangerous.

Miller, Brown and Cullen also suggest that the image has been used in graveyards during the 1600’s. The ‘Jolly Roger’ was applied to tombstones, which also signified ‘mortality’. Pirates also used the image to signify ‘victims’ who were taken as hostage.


Through previous observations, I also began to question whether the ‘Jolly Roger’ is a simplified image of death? or whether the image has been simplified through artistic representations / contexts?

I have recognised many representations of the Jolly Roger within Popular Culture and there are several interpretations that do feature simplistic qualities. These particular observations may begin to question whether these images simplify the meaning of death.

The objective is to closely observe representations of the Jolly Roger and document any examinations, which may provide questions to this particular area of analysis. The research may require close attention to minimalism and pop art, which may provide answers for this particular investigation into the skull as a simplified form.

Miller, Anistatia. R, Jared. M Brown, and Cheryl. D Cullen. Global Graphics: Symbols: Designing with Symbols for an International Market.  Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, 2000, 49

Image from: 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: