I am indebted to Melanie de Blank, widow of the late gastronomic pioneer Justin de Blank, for this treasure; a rare copy of a little known Barney Bubbles design, the recipe booklet Feasts by Victor Gordon.
Archive for the ‘Logos’ Category
Thanks to Kosmo Vinyl for digging this out of his archive; a late 70s shot of performer Pearl Harbour strolling along east London’s Bow Road clutching a carrier bag bearing that ubiquitous Barney Bubbles design, the Blockhead logo.
Kosmo Vinyl has sent this photograph taken of himself with Barney Bubbles (centre) and an unidentified person (right)* in the west London offices of Stiff Records in 1977.
“I have no idea what we are looking at,” says Vinyl, the former plugger/publicist/ideas man for Dury and The Clash who later became a record producer.
“The way I’m holding whatever it is, I’d say it’s a book or a magazine. I love the way it captures Barney’s enthusiasm and amazement.”
Vinyl has also provided some fascinating tales and insights into the creative partnership conducted between Bubbles and the late Ian Dury.
I was delighted to receive this boxed Blockhead watch recently.
Of course the typogram on the watch face – which emerges at twelve-fifteen and three o’clock – was designed by Barney Bubbles at the behest of the late Ian Dury, who said in Will Birch’s No Sleep Till Canvey Island:
“I phoned him and said, ‘I want a logo. It’s got to be black and white and square’. Then I heard somebody in his office say, ‘Wow’ and he said, ‘I’ve done it’.”
This 100-second career resume has been created by Lisa Whitaker, who is currently studying graphics at Leeds College of Art.
The DVD – housed in an “inside-out” sleeve and accompanied by a poster – came out of a course brief for a collection of 100 design objects in which she compiled album sleeves, including Bubbles’ design for Imperial Bedroom by Elvis Costello And The Attractions.
“I am fascinated by this talented man and his links to other creative people,” says Whitaker. “My moving image piece Barney Bubbles Inside Out pulls together the research and is aimed at graphic designers, record collectors and music lovers as a way of spreading the word about inspirational figure.”
Whitaker’s backgrounder on the project is here.
The absorption and reinterpretation of Barney Bubbles’ oeuvre continues apace, as evinced by this, the design for Punks Jump Up’s Blockhead EP by Michael Willis.
With an overall feel of Bubbles’ compositional techniques – particularly that of realising physiognomy by use of abstract and unusual elements – Willis’ artwork draws on such Bubbles’ creations as the BLOCKHEAD logo, the Tommy The Talking Toolbox ident, the Space Ritual tour material and the typography of the Revelations and Doremi Fasol Latido packages.
Since he was one of the pioneers of the so-called “age of plunder” (as Jon Savage pointed out in his 1983 piece on post-modernism for The Face), it was perhaps inevitable that the reintroduction of Bubbles’ work to a new generation of graphic artists and designers – via Reasons To Be Cheerful and Process – would result in the master himself being plundered.
To coincide with recent exhibition Process: The working practices of Barney Bubbles, a short run of t-shirts was produced featuring The M!ss!ng L!nk tattoo Barney Bubbles created for drummer Rat Scabies in the early 80s.
“Barney said he always thought of me as the original missing link,” says the former member of The Damned in Reasons To Be Cheerful.
Scabies hasn’t been able to locate the copy of the design Bubbles gave him for several years, so was delighted when the original turned up during research for the show. And he has vowed to finally have the tattoo inked; we have recommended a decent parlour and will keep you informed of developments.
Original artwork, pen and inks on card, early 80s.
With other examples of artwork on display at Process.
The original artwork – the broken links form a rat’s face – was a particularly popular exhibit among visitors to Process.
Rat has given the tees – on which the logo is inverted – two thumbs-up. It’s surely a testament to BB’s brilliance that the design remains full of impact. And, when wearing one, you look down at your chest and there’s a rat staring back at you…
There weren’t many produced and most went during the run of the show. However, there are some left at £10 each in L (40″ chest) and XL (42″ chest).
These two sizes are modeled here by the talented and handsome Chelsea Space assistants Gyeyeon Park and Mike Iveson, both artists in their own right.
To order your t-shirt go here.
“How can something so square be so hip?”
Designer Richard Evans sets out to answer this question in the new illustrated history of the 12in album sleeve, The Art Of The Album Cover.
Evans, The Who’s in-house designer for 35 years, provides a comprehensive overview in this glossy hardback which presents many examples of Barney Bubbles’ plundering of the history of record sleeve design for his palette of possibilities: think the crazy lettering and daring mix of photography and graphics of Alex Steinweiss and his 40s brethren Jim Flora and George Maas and, in the 50s, the work of the cool ruler, Blue Note’s Reid Miles.
Evans shows how Miles’ admiration for the “blotted line” illustrative work of Andy Warhol in the 50s resulted in gorgeous sleeves for Johnny Griffin and Kenny Burrell, while tribute is paid to the work not just of examplars such as William Claxton and Burt Goldblatt but also the teeming “unknowns” who populated the art departments of (mainly American) record labels in the 50s and 60s.
As design critic Kenneth FitzGerald recently set out in his new collection of essays, Evans recognises that everything changed with The Beatles’ 1963 debut album sleeve by Robert Freeman, setting design for music on the path to Sgt Pepper’s four years later and then onto the 70s boom-time. There are name-checks for all the leading art directors, illustrators, designers and artists, including Cal Schenkel, Neon Park, Kosh, Hipgnosis, Roger Dean and Evans himself as well as Barney Bubbles, whose work Evans deeply admires.
“I don’t have enough words of praise for the delightful and brilliant work of Barney Bubbles,” writes Evans. “He was the graphic designer’s graphic designer; a man full of the best ideas executed with great wit and originality.”
With concise sections dedicated to Neville Brody, Peter Saville, Malcolm Garrett and Stylorouge, Evans tracks the familiar tale of the damage done by the shrinkage of the packaging with the rise of the CD and the ultimately restrictive practices wreaked by increased digitisation.
As in FitzGerald’s Volume, however, the obituary for the vinyl sleeve outlined in Aubrey “Po” Powell‘s introduction (“The art of creating album covers belongs to a bygone age”) looks again to be premature in an era of renewed vigour in the field.
And Evans’ declaration that album sleeve design now resides in CD booklets also seems wrong-footed; the digital format is being rapidly forced down the gurgler by the download generation yet the demand for vinyl – though necessarily much more limited than in it’s heyday – is once again the smart choice.
The Art Of The Album Cover is available here.
Stickers, a top-ranking new book about the enduring art of the most immediate of rock & roll ephemera, provides an opportunity to show a selection of Barney Bubbles’ forays into this area of design.
Stickers is compiled by expat Brit DB Burkeman, who, pausing only to publish one of his rare shots of the Sex Pistols live in 1977, mentions in his introduction that a chance encounter with Reasons To Be Cheerful enabled him to trace Barney Bubbles as the link between the visual audacity of Hawkwind and the new wave/post-punk scene.
Burkeman’s tome covers the waterfront, from Bubbles, Jamie Reid, Malcolm Garrett and Peter Saville to Fresh Jive, Fuct, Shephard Fairey and beyond.
A great feature at the back of the book are the pages of contemporary stickers just waiting to adorn a clean surface.
Buy your copy of Stickers here.