His controversial art is known all across the globe – from piercing the late Queen’s lip with a safety pin to Nazifying Donald Trump with swastikas.
Provocative and unafraid to speak his mind, Jamie Reid is no stranger to scandal and uses his creative voice to send shockwaves through the status quo.
The British artist and anarchist will remain in history as the man who came to define the punk rock music scene of the 1970s with his iconic artwork for the band Sex Pistols.
But more so, as the one who has never been afraid to challenge the norm and rise against political issues.
Whether made specifically for Sex Pistols or as a separate piece, Reid’s work is always witty, ethically motivated and unabashedly rebellious.
And now, he is about to bring his unique vision for radical change to Aberdeen.
In this article we will take a deep dive into the artworld, political beliefs and controversial opinions of the legendary Jamie Reid:
Reid reveals a surprise personal connection to Scotland and how he created his first ever artwork for the Sex Pistols in the north-east.
He explains what drives his artworks and where he stands on current politics.
And how the Nuart street festival is “close to his heart”.
Almost 40 years of Reid’s work will be splashed on the city’s Crooked Lane next month as part of the Nuart street festival.
This will be a “spiritual homecoming” for him after nearly 50 years, having had his big break in Aberdeen in the mid-70s.
Reid doesn’t hesitate to proudly say “he is Scottish” as his dad is from Inverness and a DNA test recently confirmed he is actually 70% from the north-east.
“It’s a little Deja Vu for me with Aberdeen,” he told The P&J. “It’s unbelievable really…the first image that I ever did for the Sex Pistols was here in Aberdeen.”
Reid was living on the Isle of Lewis at the time, working for the left-wing weekly newspaper West Highland Free Press whilst involved in community politics.
One day, he received a telegram from legendary music manager Malcolm McLaren – a friend he had made at Croydon Art School – asking him if he could do the artwork for a new band.
On his way back to London, Reid stopped in Aberdeen to print an idea at Peacock Press – and just like that the first ever poster for the Sex Pistols was created.
Little did he know at the time that while this particular piece would never be used, it would pave the way for the legendary work that would define a generation.
‘My work is more relevant now that it’s ever been’
His signature newspaper-cutting graphics in the style of a ransom note have now become synonymous with the spirit of British punk rock music.
Reid’s most iconic artwork for the Sex Pistols includes God Save The Queen, Pretty Vacant, Anarchy in the UK and Never Mind the B******s, Here’s the Sex Pistols.
These will be just some of the prints and posters to cover the wall on Aberdeen’s Crooked Lane as part of a big montage collage of his work.
Although different, they are all driven by the same beliefs instilled in him by his politically active family – social justice, love for nature and rebellion against aristocracy.
“I believe that you can actually change things,” Reid said. “It is possible.
“People might go in for the nostalgia but they will also see how my work can be overly political and slightly spiritual. It’s more relevant now that it’s ever been.”
Political activism has always been the driving force behind Reid’s art, having created his ransom note style while running the radical political magazine Suburban Press.
And to this day, the fire in his belly still burns – with his more recent work partly inspired by the connection he has formed with a radical group called Eat the Rich.
Reid is not shy to express his opinions and is openly pro independence, saying “there are some weird things happening at this time, politically. It’s such a strange time”.
He admitted he can’t believe recent shock revelations about the SNP and is full of praise for Nicola Sturgeon.
Staying true to his punk nature, he said: “She [Sturgeon] brought about stability in Scottish politics and now it’s just gone overnight.
“I loved the way she stood up to that public school a******e Boris Johnson.”
‘I’ve never turned Scotland down’
The artist closes off with sincere regret that he will not be able to attend the Nuart festival in person due to his health.
With a slight giggle, Reid said that if he was 10-20 years younger he would have moved to Scotland – “but Liverpool is not that bad either”.
And when he was approached to join the world-class line-up of artists gearing up to “rewild” Aberdeen for Nuart, he didn’t have to think twice.
He said: “I’ve never turned Scotland down. I love it here.
“However, the rewilding theme is close to my heart.
“When I think about all that we have done to this planet in the last 300 years, it’s beyond belief. Maybe it’s too late. Maybe the planet will decide humans are bad news.”