Artist for Day 7 – WINSTON SMITH

Punk Art Surrealist Winston Smith, a master of “hand-carved” collage, has been crafting his thought-provoking art since the 1970’s. After being abroad for six years, Winston returned to America and was astonished by the complacency the American public exhibited towards the corporate domination in their society.  Winston began taking “safe” images from magazines and combining them to create politically charged works of art that challenge the viewer to confront incongruities and political paradoxes of modern society.

Smith first became known (and later beloved) for his collaborations with punk legends Dead Kennedys and his numerous album covers, inserts and flyers for the band in their formative years.  His technique of cutting out by hand and gluing each individual element has inspired a generation of artists.

In 1981, his political shock piece, Idol (pictured above – originally conceived in 1977) brazenly adorned the Dead Kennedys album, In God We Trust, Inc.  That album, banned in England and condemned by the American religious right, landed Smith and Dead Kennedys a permanent spot in the punk culture “Hall of Shame.”

Even more infamously, the “DK” logo that Smith created and designed for the band in early 1980 remains an international symbol of protest against authoritarianism.  Popularly described as an icon or emblem, Smith’s mark has been carved, sprayed, and tattoed into history on school desks and park benches, walls and tattoos all over the world.

Smith is also responsible for the famous Alternative Tentacles logo for frontman Jello Biafra’s record label.


The visual left hooks that Smith threw into the underground punk scene in the 1970’s and 80’s are now impacting a much wider audience.  He has designed over 50 record covers for bands including Green Day, Burning Brides, Jello Biafra, George Carlin and many more.  He most recently collaborated with blues-rock recording artist Ben Harper for Harper’s album White Lies for Dark Times with his band Relentless 7 (Virgin).

Winston Smith’s art for Green Day’s Insomniac album was voted one of the top three favorite CD covers of 1996 in a Rolling Stone Magazine Readers’ Poll.

His images have also appeared in (and on the cover of) such well known magazines as The New Yorker,  Playboy, Spin and many more; and numerous book covers and inside illustrations, such as Greg Palast’s best-sellers The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse.

Smith’s career has been acclaimed in numerous books and films chronicling the punk rock era as well as in college level text books.

Though Smith primarily uses the medium of collage, he is classically trained in Renaissance art, having left the U.S. in 1969 to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, where he lived for several years before moving to Rome.

Over the last 35 years, Winston has had numerous one-man shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, London, Berlin, Antwerp, Rome and Tokyo, as well as group shows throughout the United States and Europe.

Winston’s transition from underground rebel to nationally recognized illustrator was chronicled with the release of his debut volume of collected works Act Like Nothing’s Wrong (Last Gasp, 1994).  Since then, he’s had two more volumes, Artcrime (Last Gasp, 1999), and All Riot on the Western Front (Last Gasp, 2001).