Art School

Commercial Design

The Commercial Design department of St Martins introduced me to a whole new range of skills and values. I learned about the world of typography and graphic design and since this was long before the advent of computers, everything had to be done by hand. We were set projects to train us to think in design terms and required to devise - among other things - logos, trade marks, promotional booklets and book jackets.

The cluster of musical instruments was created as a logo for a concert hall. One of the two trademark designs was for the whale fishing industry, the other for Merrit, a manufacturer of crab paste.

The company diary covers were attempts to enliven dull, workaday items. For the W. S. Collett 1954 Diary, I combined lettering with areas of texture and decorative mark making. For the Samuel Golshman 1955 Diary, I created a stylised clock to symbolise the passage of time.

To serve as a trademark for D.H. Hall & Co, a fictional brewer, I borrowed a wild boar from mediaeval heraldry. My design for the beer bottle label surrounded the beast with a varied assortment of typefaces.

To ensure that the road sign I designed for the Two Hawks Hotel would stand out, I made it an unusual shape. The hawk itself was based on the ancient Egyptian ‘Hawk of Horus’ in the British Museum.

My Prevent Smog booklet aimed to promote a clean air campaign. Early 1950’s London sometimes suffered dense smogs known as ‘pea soupers’. My artwork contrasted the lethal gloom of this pollution with a vision of sparkling clean air. All the shop fronts and street details came from my sketch books.

I shall always be grateful for my training in Commercial Design. Having to construct letters by hand not only taught me precision but also increased my sense of spatial awareness. Learning to think in design terms added authority to my illustrations and formally underpinned my work as a painter. Good design, it seems to me, is just composition in a more rigorous form.