Author: nickandh

A History of Fish in the Home

Notebook: 4 November 2017 | ILLUSTRATION I like fish. I like the way they look, I like the way they move and I like to eat them. Nigel Bents likes fish too. He’s an artist and in 1982 he produced a lithograph entitled A History of Fish in the Home. His print is a ‘montage’ of collected 1950s images of fish from old magazines, books, other printed ephemera and ceramics. I loved his print (pictured below), bought a copy from him and it has hung on our kitchen wall for the last 35 years or so. Nigel described the background and inspiration for his artwork and his continuing love for fishy things: I love fish and I loved 1950’s homes, hence the 1951 Antelope Ernest Race chairs abounding in the print. I was in my mid twenties, doing a postgraduate fine art printmaking course at Central School of Art; I spent two happy years doing 8-colour offset lithographs, gradually building up the colours from lighter to darker. I got the images from design annuals, old mags, comics, MAD …

‘The Visual History of Type’ reviewed

Notebook: 2 October 2017 | BOOK REVIEW | TYPOGRAPHY The Visual History of Type by Paul McNeil. Published by Laurence King 2017 Wow! What a fantastic book this is. The legendary Dutch designer and typographer Wim Crouwel has described it as, ‘amazing, overwhelming, stunning’ and ‘wonderful’ and he’s not wrong. It is an essential record of every major typeface created since the development of printing with moveable type in the 1450s and it is well designed, easy to navigate and beautiful to look at. I couldn’t put it down. As a graphic design student in the late 1970s, my knowledge and understanding of type was built on what I gleaned from the Letraset catalogue, fusty old art college library books (apart from Sutton and Bertram’s rather good Atlas of Typeforms first published in 1968) and what I saw around me in print. These days, students can raid the internet for information but they will still welcome Paul McNeil’s book, which I’m sure will become the definitive reference guide for students, professionals and anyone else with an interest …

Best of my summer reading

Notebook: 5 September 2017 | MAGAZINES Earlier in the summer I visited the magculture shop in Clerkenwell and came away with a bagful of very attractive magazines and books, and last week, I finally got round to looking at them while away on holiday in Dartmouth. Here’s my pick of some of the best bits: Row 1: The California Sunday Magazine Row 2: The Happy Reader Row 3: Pulp Row 4: BE: The journal of the built environment Row 5: Real Review Row 6: Fleckhaus: Design, Revolte, Regenbogen  Row 7: The Secret of Scent    

Raw re-visited

Notebook: 11 August 2017 | ILLUSTRATION | COMICS I have a collection of old copies of the dazzling Raw magazine and their spin-offs – the Raw One-Shots. They were published by Raw Books and Graphics who were established in Manhattan in the late 1970s by New York artist and designer Art Spiegelman (who later went on to create Maus) and his French partner Francoise Mouly (now long-time art editor of The New Yorker magazine) and Raw magazine was a showcase for some of the best alternative illustrators and comic book artists of the time and it featured and brought well-deserved attention to artists such as Gary Panter, Mark Beyer, Charles Burns, Sue Coe, Jerry Moriarty and of course Spiegelman himself. The first eight issues (Volume 1) were large format and mainly black and white but with richly coloured card covers and often some sections on different paper stocks. The last three issues (Volume 2) were much smaller in size but a lot thicker and published by Penguin. I have every issue apart from the very first. The Raw One-shots …

Transition: Elsewhere No. 5 – A Journal of Place

Notebook: 5 August 2017 | MAGAZINES | ILLUSTRATION We live in a small hamlet on the edge of a South Norfolk village. Our house is part of the old Victorian manor estate and is nestled on the side of a gentle valley and sheltered from the prevailing winds by woodland and large hedges. I wander down the track to the road that follows the stream along the valley bottom and then I climb another track that takes me up and out of the valley on the opposite side. After a short while I come to the top of the track and open fields. Looking back behind me, all I can see of the manor estate is the coach house clocktower which peaks out from behind the trees and reminds me of one of Alfred Bestall’s illustrations from a Rupert Bear annual. In front of me and off to the west lie a dark band of fir trees that mark the edge of the brooding Thetford forest. It’s early August and the landscape looks very ‘black’ …

A square measure

Notebook: 29 July 2017 |  VOLUNTARY WORK | THE C-WORD In 2006, spurred on by England Cricket’s epic Ashes win in 2005 and his love of sport, my eldest son Joe who was 11 at the time, joined the local village cricket club. He had a natural aptitude for the game and soon found himself playing for the Under 13 age group team and I was roped in as team ‘manager’. Most amateur sports clubs depend on an army of volunteers to help out – be it ground maintenance, making teas or, as in my case, ensuring that 11 youngsters were organised and turned up for matches on the right day and at the right time. They were a good bunch of boys (and girls) and they clicked as a team, enjoyed themselves and always seemed to do well. I remained manager and followed them through from U13s to U15s to U17s and in 2011 their hard work and achievements culminated in them winning the Junior Carter Cup, a knockout competition featuring the best U17 teams …

Liking US: University of Sussex branding

Notebook: 10 July 2017 | BRANDING I like this cluster of publications produced by the University of Sussex (US) and picked up by myself and youngest son Harry on a recent University open day visit. There’s a strong and consistent identity across all the literature, and across the website, social media and signage on the campus. The branding was carried out by designer Dan Cottrell for Pentagram in 2015 and the Pentagram guidelines are now closely followed by a roster of approved independent designers that the University calls upon. There’s a bright, breezy and confident palette of colours that contrast well with the more academic and authoritative choice of typefaces – good old Baskerville (UOS Baskerville Titling – a bespoke version for the Uni’) and Franklin Gothic in assorted weights. Type is centred to echo the original 1962 prospectus when Sussex Uni’ first opened. I particularly like the large format 12 Stories of Sussex publication – a collection of short interviews, quotes and photos from current and former students and members of staff – and three …

It’s showtime: A visit to the LCC and NUA graphics exhibitions

Notebook: 5 July 2017 | DEGREE SHOWS Last year I managed to squeeze in visits to 11 different graphic design degree shows but this year with time against me, I’ve visited just three exhibitions – Reading (see my previous post), the London College of Communication (LCC) and Norwich University of the Arts (NUA). LCC and NUA were both excellent shows – not only was the work of a high standard with plenty of editorial design and typography to satisfy my interests, but it was also very well presented with careful editing, clear captioning and lots of space around it to allow it to breathe and to show the designs off to their best. There’s no point in a student spending a couple of years producing fantastic work only to then present it poorly. Both LCC and NUA choose to loosely group the work into sections – printed magazines here, book jackets there and so on, rather than displaying the work by individual student, and (rightly or wrongly, depending on your viewpoint) this allows them to …

Reading, writing and typography

Pictured above. A collection of old signs and letters on display in the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. Photo by Rachel Bray Notebook 18 June 2017 | DEGREE SHOWS | TYPOGRAPHY Reading with a cap ‘R’ – the Thames Valley, Crossrail boomtown; home to the rock festival and the gaol where Oscar Wilde was incarcerated; and home for a while, to poor old Jude Fawley in Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure. Once upon a time I spent a week in Reading hospital having my appendix whipped out. It was my first encounter with a scalpel (a few years later I was to learn that the ’10a’ scalpel blade was the graphic designer’s preferred blade of choice). And in 1974 or so, I would have tottered on my platform shoes into Reading’s Top Rank nightclub to see the legendary singer Edwin Starr perform. The ugly old station-side nightclub has long since disappeared and been replaced by smart office blocks but the town is still rather dull and congested with traffic. …

Newies but goodies

Notebook 25 May 2017 | MAGAZINES Last month I wrote about a cluster of wonderful old magazines that I’d unearthed tidying the studio. This month I’m taking a look at a selection of new purchases that I’ve recently enjoyed, starting with a couple of heavyweight and always good-looking consumer titles… GQ (UK edition) June 2017. Creative Director: Paul Solomons, Art Director: Keith Waterfield In some ways GQ is the perfect magazine. For anyone who knows me, I clearly don’t buy it for its features about fast cars, expensive watches and male grooming products. Instead I admire it for its consistently good looks. And it’s the magazine that I like to wave in front of journalism and design students as an example of ‘this is how you do it!’ – because it does do everything so well – from its rich mix of high-quality, short and long-form content, great flat-planning and pace – to its well-engineered design and typography that always makes use of the best photography, illustration and infographics. Highlights of this month’s issue (pictured above) include a profile of London Mayor, Sadiq Khan (with portrait by …