This is what was happening:
Edward Heath became Prime Minister.
The Female Eunuch published with a startling cover illustration by the late John Holmes.
BBC TV screened a new children's series Mr Benn.
The crew of Apollo 13 had a 'problem'.
Glenda Jackson bares all in Ken Russull's Women in Love and netted an Oscar in the process.
1st and very sedate Glastonbury Festival
And Jimi Hendrix dies of a drug and alcohol overdose at the age of 28
And this what I looked like then:
Twelve months into the job, I was feeling far more confident. The publishing world really agreed with me and I became determined to do my best and this was inspired by a few other industry art directors who I greatly admired at the time: Michael Rand, David King, David Driver, Nicholas Thirkell, Arnold Schwartzman and David Pelham.
Above cover a spreads from the pocket sized Welcome Aboard, the in flight magazine of, as it was known then, BOAC. Art directed by the brilliant David Driver who took over creative control of Radio Times in 1970 and brought to it much of his thinking trail blazed on Welcome Aboard. It was the begining of a golden era of Radio Times.
This cover of Radio Times featured the new BBC drama series Doom Watch
As a young passionate graphic designer, all I wanted to do was produce good work, and the only obstacle to that was my personal limitations and getting the work through the myriad of people who had the power of approval. In a way, they became my enemies. I would try every trick in the book to circumnavigate them. And the work itself was more to impress other designers of my age, rather than caring about the saleable effectiveness of the book jackets themselves. Such is the arrogance of youth.
The main approval processed at Heinemann was by the Sales Director Timothy Manderson, an rather rotund ex-Etonian with a liking for waistcoats and half-hunter watches. He was a character straight out of Dickens and had an equally Dickensian sidekick called Chris Forster, a kind of northern henchman when it came to approving jacket designs. My presentations would go something like this: I’d show a design, explain the concept and hold my breath. Manderson would peruse it and then in a series of sublet signals would say to Forster, “Hmmm, what do you think, Chris?” As quick as a shot he would say, “I don’t like that at all; the type should be at the top and much bigger.” Manderson would respond, “Ahh yes, a very good point, Chris. I think you’re spot on there.” He would then write the response on the back of the rough. Thus, he was not actually the originator of bad news. I then had to show it to Charles Pick, the managing director who was literally colour blind and so preferred typographical jackets. He had a disarmingly gentle voice but was a fierce operator. More often than not he’d say, “You know, Mike, I think this would be far better as a typographical cover.” And so it would go on.
But thankfully I gradually learned to fight my corner and there was enough slack in the system for me to get some good stuff through, so I had to juggle the work very carefully. Meanwhile, back in my little top-floor garret in the Queen’s Street building, I was to lose my first secretary, Sandra Spells, and was presented with a replacement by Heinemann’s personnel department: a tall, 19-year-old Mauritian called Marie Claire Permal who, as it turned out, was the slowest typist in the world but had the most adorable soft French accent. So the typing went out of the window and we somehow muddled on together.
My unofficial mentor, Publicity Director William Holden, invited me for the weekend to his country cottage, which he shared with his ‘friend’ Michael Campbell (brother of Patrick Campbell of Call My Bluff fame). I was completely unaware that Holden was gay (in fact, I’d never met a gay person at that time) as he had such a macho character: a hard-drinking ex-journalist. You also have to remember that homosexuality had only been removed as a jailable offence in 1967 and ‘queers’, as they were still called, remained very discreet.
Anyway, off I went to Rousham House in the Oxfordshire countryside, where William and Michael’s cottage was situated within the grounds of this rather splendid estate. Timothy Manderson also had a cottage there and his next-door neighbour was the actor George Baker – who later became famous for playing Inspector Wexford on TV. But Holden had an ulterior motive for inviting me: no not that, but to photograph the grounds of Rousham House for a book jacket.
Ella, the live-in housekeeper at Heinemann, had a flat at the very top of the building. She rather took to me in a motherly sort way and often gave me generous slices of fruitcake still warm from the oven. I was fond of a TV series called A Family at War,
showing at the time and repeated on Wednesday afternoons. On those days, you would find me in Ella’s flat with tea and cakes to hand, along with her Scottie dog relaxing in front of the box. I can’t imagine such a thing happening in today’s cutthroat publishing world.
I kept Thursday mornings clear to see designers, photographers and illustrators.
I was a big fan of new kids on the block: Bentley/Farrell/Burnett and I often commission Michael Farrell who came to see me during 1969. He had a genuine love of book jackets and was the first that I can recall who wanted to design the whole jacket from flap to flap. Before that, the flaps and back cover were left for the publisher to put together. Not for Farrell: he was a perfectionist and wanted total control, even though it doubled his workload for the same meagre fee of £30. This was the first jacket B/F/B designed for me…
I don't think this new vibrant, liberated style (you have to remember that until this point designers in the UK were all struggling to free themselves from the Swiss gridded stranglehold ) would have happened without Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast across the pond. And 1970 was the year that The Push Pin Style was published and a travelling exhibition was staged at Reed House in Piccadilly. It was one of those epiphany moments for many British designers and was to have a substantial influence on UK graphics in the coming decade.
Another designer I was very keen to meet was John Gorham and I visited him at his studio in Regent Street, which he shared with Dick Weaver in a sort of loose partnership. At the time, Gorham was working for a whole range of advertising art directors. His work was astonishingly good and another designer obsessed with graphics from the Victorian and Edwardian periods: both highly embellished, which Gorham loved. But far from just being an accomplished decorator, he was also an outstanding conceptual thinker. His work was always infused with ideas. And as a character, Gorham had this school-boyish innocence about him.
The best thing that happened that year was Macmillan’s Nicholas Thirkell and I being invited by the Design Council to stage an exhibition at their Haymarket space and shop (those were the days). The exhibition dovetailed with a feature in Design and Gebrauchsgrafik magazines…
I was feeling good. My efforts were paying off and there was still much to learn and do.
That year I was begining listening to a lot of classical music along with this..
Crosby, Stills,Nash & Young were kings at that point.
There were many great films. For me it was...
Five Easy Pieces directed by Bob Rafelson with its classic Jack Nicholson chicken salad sandwich scene.
Performance directed by Nicolas Roege and Donald Cammell.
The stunningly visual Zabriski Point directed by Michelangelo Antonioni.
And my job for that year...
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