Back in 1986, I designed this book for Edward Booth-Clibborn on the work of the illustrator/designer/artist André François.
For anyone who has ever been commissioned by Edward, they will know his classic modus operandi. He would first seek out a designer admired by other designers. Then he would wine and dine them rather lavishly. The moment agreement had been made about the commission, a manuscript, a pile of original illustrations and a batch of photographs would arrive, and you were on your own. No editor or publishing coordinator.
The great thing was that you could do whatever you wanted, but there was little money.
Like so many other designers, I fell for it time and time again because, at heart, designers just want to do nice work and the fee, although important, is secondary – we are so silly.
Having so much of François’ original work to select was wonderful, and the book was an absolute joy to work on.
André François 1915–2005
André François was born in 1915 in Temesvár, Austria-Hungary; he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest and moved to Paris in 1934, where he worked at the studio of the legendary French poster artist Cassandre.
A classic poster by Cassandre
François became a French citizen in 1939 and went on to gain worldwide recognition, with his work gracing the covers of Punch, Vogue and The New Yorker and featuring in major advertising campaigns from Kodak, Olivetti and Citroën to Pérrier and many others. His cartoons were syndicated in newspapers around the world.
François' 1965 cover illustration the Penguin edition of Lord of the Flies
The work has a wonderful immediacy; is full of wit, warmth and humour; and can always raise a smile on a grey day.
Here are just a few items from his vast output over six decades.