How Seattle Grunge Ate Itself
Role — Designer
Timeline — Spring 2018
The Underground concept began formulating with the death of a muse, Chris Cornell, in 2017. With his passing—as many creatives’ before him— we lost an intangible, lawless brilliance that is difficult to harness and impossible to forget. His self-murder sparked a conversation around a question that had been unearthed for far too long; what the fuck happened inside Seattle’s grunge? As a massive fan of the 90s rock scene and an unfortunate wayfarer in suicide and depression, I wanted to explore and unearth the deep emotion in Seattle’s music scene and portray it strictly through visual emotion.
The zine follows a bright, hopeful beginning and roams on to a dark and distant closure, offering only a glint of light at its close. It is unreadable, has no tangible information to be gained, and is a mess of conceptual creeds and visual longing. The Underground acted as a thesis for me to explore a more psychological approach to visual communication and now acts as a reminder of loss and hope.
Beginning with a bright and airy open, the zine starts with a quote from a Seattle native on the culture when grunge was simply emotion. Its components are created from broken printers and glitching scanners, paired with hand typography, grainy images and geometric typefaces. The book progresses with a callout from each band, revealing itself as a timeline through the years of grunge’s rise and the significant moments of its reign. It becomes more and more complex, and difficult to untangle. It is then hit with stark contrast — a break in the system. Andrew Wood’s death was a loud pause in the timeline, and it rippled for years afterwards. The visuals then get more dark and grim despite their celebratory headlines. We lose more and more artists and the layouts get almost indecipherable, offering only one ‘Eddie Vedder’ as hope for its future.
Visually and emotionally raw. The Underground instills complete and utter emotion, the kind we all feel when life isn’t right and we don’t know where to go. It swallows you, leaving one reaching eternally for the understanding of what happened to them all, how — if — we’re ever to return to a music scene like Seattle’s, and who will lead us.
The mark is created from different letters from each of the seven band logos featured in the issue; Soundgarden, Green River, Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Temple of the Dog. It is laser engraved on the cover, along with the line ‘The Day I Tried to Live’ by Cornell on the inner spine.