I remember back in 1968 going to see Yellow Submarine and loving Heinz Edelmann's animated illustrations. I had followed his work for many years in Twenmagazine where he appeared regularly.
Here are some of the finished drawings that appeared in Twen at the time of the film's release.
And thinking about the late George Martin here is one of his most memorable arrangements for The Beatles, A Day in The Life in a recently restored studio film recording from 1967. Take a look and listen here
Long before ‘Branding’ agencies got their hands on television companies the original BBC, on-screen identity, fondly referred to as the ‘bat’s wings’ was designed by one Abram Games and introduced in 1953 when there was still only one television channel.
Here is Games with his elaborate mechanical contraption featuring a spinning globe in the centre, surrounded by two spinning 'eyes'. Apparently shortly after it was filmed it broke down, luckily it wasn't needed again. The identity stayed in daily use on air until 1963.
You can see an immaculate animated recreation of the identity in all its glory here.
This is a favorite book, the 1971 New York Art Directors Club of New York Annual. It has a ballsy no-nonsense typographical structure and layout. The work is very much the hero and not the designer of the book, but having said that, I love the design. But most of all I love the look and copy in the advertising.
We are talking about the era of great ideas, wonderful copy and photography. Equally great work in a similar vein was being produced here in the UK. But those days of long lovingly written copy, with witty headlines, are a thing of the past. We live in a visually driven age of advertising. Advertising that has to communicate instantly and globally.
Who knows perhaps one-day intelligent and beautifully written ads will return. Anything is possible
Whenever I am cosseted in the dusky atmosphere of a second-hand bookshop (one of my loves), my eye always scans the shelves for the familiar orange and green spines of 1950s/60s Penguin covers.
Above and below current displays at Waterstone's in London. Vintage Penguins and Pelicans originally sold for 2 shillings and 6pence are now on sale for £3.
I still feel that dispensing with that instantly recognisable piece of practical branding was a foolish mistake on the part of Penguin’s management back in the late 1960s. Ever since there have been attempts to resurrect the styling, but mostly based on a saleable nostalgia squarely aimed at younger readers born many decades after the original covers ceased. This new audience finds the uniformity and simplicity of these covers far more sympathetic to their taste and a good-looking accessory, plus they make their bookshelves look neat.
For me, it was the green-spined crime covers that I always went for because of the stark graphic symbolised images, effective in part because of the colour restriction. More often than not, when a designer is restricted, they rise to the occasion, as did the creator of Penguin’s crime series styling, Romek Marber.
Germano Facetti (1926 – 2006)
In 1960, Germano Facetti took up the post as Penguin’s art director and immediately set about harnessing the talents of some of the most outstanding graphic designers and illustrators working in Britain. Facetti had noted the cover designs for The Economist created by Marber, so he was invited to join the coterie of distinguished Penguin designers.
Born in Poland in 1925, Marber experienced the horrors of the Nazi regime. He was deported to the Bochnia Ghetto in 1939 and narrowly escaped being sent to the horrific Belzec death camp. In 1946, as a 21-year-old, he arrived in the UK, where he was reunited with his father and brother.
In the 1950s, he studied at St Martins School of Art and went on to the Royal College of Art, where he joined a bevy of talented designers: David Gentleman, John Sewell, Dennis Bailey and Raymond Hawkey among them. Penguin had a long tradition of cherry-picking RCA graduates to illustrate their covers.
Marber was initially commissioned by Facetti to design a few fiction covers and then invited as part of a three-way competition to create a new look for Penguin crime, Derek Birdsall and John Sewell being the other two in the race. But it was Marber’s logical solution that came out on top, and he went on to design 71 covers personally with many other designers, including George Mayhew, John Sewell, Facetti and many illustrators working within Marber’s design discipline.
Marber's box of tricks
Marber’s now-classic horizontally fragmented cover structure has never dated and still stands up as an outstanding piece of 20th-century modernist design.
Above just a few of the 70 odd covers designed by Romek Marber
Many designers worked within Marber’s cover grid, and eventually Facetti extended its use beyond crime to general fiction and non-fiction.
Alan Aldridge Penguin's fiction art director from 1965 to 1967
One of the young designers to surface in the mid-1960s was Alan Aldridge, who was commissioned by Facetti on a number of covers. He later took over the reins from him as fiction art director.
Aldridge inside the box
As is the way of all young Turks, they rarely want to go with the existing order; within a very short space of time, Aldridge dispensed with the Marber grid, leaving designers, illustrators and photographers a blank canvas and full colour to work with.
Aldridge covers out of the box
And so ended Penguin’s instantly recognisable house style. But, as they say, what comes around goes around.
For more on the designers mentioned in this post just click onto the individual names:
This is Roy Kuhlman, the American graphic designer born in 1932 who sadly departed for the big studio in the sky in 2007.
He started out as a painter but was unable to make a living, so he looked for an alternative to using his abstract ideas, and this brought him to the world of graphics. He became best known to the design community via his cover designs for US publisher Grove Press, which started as a simple freelance relationship in 1952 and spanned almost two decades. Kuhlman was reportedly paid $50 per cover design and, due to financial constraints, was often limited to only two colour lines. But that didn’t stop Kuhlman from creating a very recognisable personality for the publishing house and for himself. He had a minimal graphic vocabulary, avoiding literal representation, as he always maintained that he could not draw well.
Outside of Grove Press, he worked for a range of clients, from advertising agency Sudler & Hennessey to Columbia Records and Benton & Bowles. At the latter, he worked on the IBM campaign Mathematics Serving Man, for which he won the AIGA Best Ads of the Year Award in 1960. He worked until his retirement in the 1980s but continued to make his own photographic experiments. In 1995, he was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. In his final years, he was taken by the horrors of dementia.
The above beautiful cover for Evergreen magazine by Roy from 1965 must have surely been an influence for Annie Leibovitz when photographing John Lennon's nude embrace of Yoko Ono taken in 1980.
For me, his graphic approach links with that of two British graphic designers, Keith Cunningham and John Sewell, their work has a very similar feel. Take a look. Keith Cunningham John Sewell