Punk and the Skull

24/3/12 Off Ya Tree – Melbourne Central

On the way to the station, I recognised a store opposite Melbourne Central called Off ya Tree. The sign out the front of the store was extremely bright and I noticed two skulls on each side of the banner. Almost every single product within the store features skulls, the skull and crossbones was a very popular image.

Every inch of the store was completely saturated with skulls in different shapes, sizes, styles and colours. It was quite difficult not to notice an image of a skull within the store. Off Ya Tree distributes clothes, handbags, shoes, jewellery, hats, collectable items and other random products. The store is also a tattoo parlour, which also features books full of skull tattoos. The products do appear to be aiming towards punks and goths, which is very noticeable within the style of clothing.

Does the skull define different styles or subcultures?

It could be argued that the skull becomes a very significant representation for various trends, styles or subcultures. Perhaps the skull features more than just one representation besides mortality. There are so many areas or professions that are now using the skull, it’s hard to determine what the skull actually represents in the twenty first century.

Faye Dowling in the Book of Skulls quotes that “the skull has straddled the world’s of music, fashion art and popular culture to become today’s ultimate anti-establishment icon, a tribal emblem encapsulating the spirit of rock, punk, goth, skate and street cultures” p.7

Dowling also exemplifies how the image of the skull gained popularity during the 1970’s and how rock bands such as the ‘Misfits’ influenced the representation of the skull. These particular examples also influenced certain styles, trends and cultures such as ‘rock’ and ‘punk’. I have also recognised that a lot of young men wear t-shirts or bags with the misfits logo on the front, which may emphasise it’s popularity among the younger generation.

Dowling also quotes that the skull becomes a “symbol of rebellion”, which also questions whether trends such as punk or rock feature menacing and macabre representations of the skull. Are these particular images of the skull frightening or morbid compared to other popular representations?

Dowling, Faye. The Book of Skulls. Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2011.

Image Citation: Street Giant http://streetgiant.com/2010/08/17/the-misfits-announce-north-american-european-tour/ 

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