DEVO's Mark Mothersbaugh Unveils New Book 'Apotropaic Beatnik Graffiti'

"This book is not typical in its layout or content," Mothersbaugh said of the collection, derived from his decades of dedication to the mail art movement

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jan 25, 2024

Although DEVO might be done touring, co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh has long had plenty of other artistic fixations to keep him busy — be it composing film scores or collecting mail art. The multi-disciplinarian's latest venture draws on his decades of dedication to the latter, comprising five archival books in his collection of hundreds for Apotropaic Beatnik Graffiti.

Due March 12 through Blank Industries (in association with Mutmuz Publishing), the hardcover art book is a lifelong project of Mothersbaugh's finally coming to fruition. It was all the way back in 1969 that he discovered — and began participating in — mail art, the movement of artists around the world sending small-scale works to each other through the postal service. 

Mothersbaugh began collecting the postcards he created, saving each 100 in an archival book. Having now amassed over 700 books in his archives, Apotropaic Beatnik Graffiti is a sampling of some that have served as inspiration for lyrics, album titles, album artwork and other larger-scale art piece concepts, printed on 115gsm matte art paper with a gold gilded edge.

"This book is not typical in its layout or content,” Mothersbaugh said in a press release. “Once you get into the imagery, it is not strictly linear, at all... it is meant to be shuffled through, working your way back 'n' forth as elements catch your eye. Feel free to mark up the pages, and/or tear out and post a page above the entranceway to your home as a protective talisman, or on the bumper of your car! Three visionaries I have respected through the years graciously agreed to write forwards, each illuminating in its own way. A handy placemark ribbon is included to assist you in returning to where you left off last time you were there."

Press notes further describe the collection as a "visual journey" of "neo-dada stream-of-conscious visual poetry, representing one human's observations of life on a sliding planet." 

Pre-orders for Apotropaic Beatnik Graffiti are ongoing. Check out a flip-through of the book below.

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