Towson-Glen Arm Graphic Design – part 1

A flyer by Lou Thomas advertising a September 1995 show that featured his band Rive Gauche. The other bands who played this gig weren't Towson-Glen Arm groups. Note the holy seal of the Universal Life Church in the upper right corner. Thomas was an actual ordained reverend and member of this non-denominational mail order "faith" which was supported by many TGA kids as a means of expressing opposition to conventional organized religion (i.e., among the church's many untraditional policies, it clearly encourages atheists to join up; for more on  the ULC check this website: www.themonastery.org/aboutUs).

A flyer by Lou Thomas advertising a September 1995 show that featured his band Rive Gauche. The other bands who played this gig weren’t Towson-Glen Arm groups. Note the holy seal of the Universal Life Church in the upper right corner. Thomas was an actual ordained reverend and member of this non-denominational mail order “faith” which was supported by many TGA kids as a means of expressing opposition to conventional organized religion (i.e., among the church’s many untraditional policies, it clearly encourages atheists to join up; for more on the ULC check this website: http://www.themonastery.org/aboutUs)[courtesy of Lou Thomas].

Graphic design represents a big chunk of Towson-Glen Arm’s most well known output. In the 90’s the TGA design style was featured prominently in hundreds of photocopied paper flyers made to promote live performance events, though it also made its mark on zines, political pamphlets, and various oddball print ephemera. Towson-Glen Arm flyers could be found posted up throughout the Baltimore area in record stores, book stores, coffee shops, college campus bulletin boards, down on the legendary merch table in Matt Bray’s basement*, wheat pasted onto telephone poles and other utilitarian structures, or even posted (without permission) on the grounds of the public high schools Dulaney and Towson (the two schools that most of the teenaged TGA artists attended).

Towson-Glen Arm artists would often give out flyers by hand at their own shows or other all ages concerts in the area. The front steps of the Towson Commons shopping center (a loitering hotspot for young troublemakers from all over suburban Baltimore) also was a place where one could find TGA kids handing out print material. Unfortunately, as most Towson-Glen Arm shows were drug/alcohol free** events, the hedonistic “mall punk” kids who hung out at the Commons would frequently end up throwing the show flyers into the trash or they’d just refuse to take them.

The TGA movement thrust the art of graphic design into a nebulous realm where leftist fervor, wild absurdity, and primal/d.i.y. production culminated in brash displays of ragged grace. Presented here is the first part of a new blog series featuring some top examples of Towson-Glen Arm’s visual splendor.

the logo from the Daily Schoolbus zine; designed by Spence Holman; October 1994 (courtesy of Spence Holman)

the logo from the Daily Schoolbus zine; designed by Spence Holman; October 1994 (courtesy of Spence Holman)

a set list created by multi-media artist Jeff Duncan for his band The Idiots; early 1995 (courtesy of Lou Thomas)

a set list created by multi-media artist Jeff Duncan for his band The Idiots; early 1995 (courtesy of Lou Thomas)

 a flyer probably designed by Jeff Duncan and his Behind Closed Doors band mates (Aaron Friedman and Guy Blakeslee); this was made to promote a TGA concert at the Baltimore city venue The Loft  (pardon the condition of this flyer; it was actually ripped off of telephone pole back in the mid 90's.) [courtesy of Shawn Phase]

a flyer designed by Jeff Duncan and his Behind Closed Doors band mates (Aaron Friedman and Guy Blakeslee); this was made to promote a TGA concert at the Baltimore city venue The Loft (pardon the condition of this flyer; it was actually ripped off of telephone pole back in the mid 90’s.) [courtesy of Shawn Phase]

design/lettering: Lou Thomas; 1997 (courtesy of Lou Thomas)

design/lettering: Lou Thomas; 1997 (courtesy of Lou Thomas)

(* the full story behind the premiere TGA venue Matt Bray’s basement can be found in the notes to the Towson-Glen Arm Freakouts 2 compilation, some of which are reprinted here: https://towsonglenarmfreakouts.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/matt-bray-and-the-early-days-of-towson-glen-arm/)
(** While Towson-Glen Arm didn’t completely indentify with the drug free straight edge philosophy, some in the north County underground identified the excessive drug use associated with Gen X/grunge rock/’slackers’ as “counter revolutionary” therefore at odds with the TGA movement’s political beliefs.)

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