Archive for the ‘t-shirts’ Category

Tick a tick a Timex: It’s the Blockhead watch!

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

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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’.”

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The M!ss!ng L!nk t-shirts

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

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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.

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Original artwork, pen and inks on card, early 80s.

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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…

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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.

Process: Pictures from our exhibition

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

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Process: The working practices of Barney Bubbles uses the three areas of Chelsea Space to guide visitors through the methods by which this master designer realised his audacious creations.

And there’s a continuous soundtrack of the music for which he designed, from Cressida to Costello, from Hawkwind to The Damned, from Iggy Pop & James Williamson to Red Dirt.

In the entrance to Chelsea Space is selected ephemera – adverts, badges, music press ads, stickers – as well as books, magazines and other finished artwork and designs, including the rug made in the image of a panel on the cover of Brewing Up With Billy Bragg.

There is also a showreel of 10 of the videos directed by Bubbles (including two never publicly displayed before: Incendiary Device and Darling, Let’s Have Another Baby for Johnny Moped).

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A face-off is conducted between Elvis Costello (in 1977’s Warholian 60″ x 40″ Live Stiffs poster) and Chuck Berry (in the form of the wall-mounted sculpture created by Bubbles for music publisher Peter Barnes) at each end of the ramp.

On the ramp wall are posters, sleeves and other exhibits denoting approaches, recurrent themes and areas such as art direction, colour usage, application of symbols, photographic treatment, geometric arrangement, etc.

In the main room there is no finished artwork, excepting a copy of Damned Damned Damned with it’s deliberate printing error, and an NME Book Of Modern Music to demonstrate from whence Bubbles was taking his design leads at the time of production.

Sketches and proposals, along with personal effects, influences, paintings and sketchbooks rest on plinths and trestles colour-schemed to a typically exuberant Bubbles palette.

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The walls are lined with pen and ink artwork, PMTs (Photo Mechanical Transfers), proofs, proposals, paste-ups, photography, etc. There’s a guide to the technical aspects of producing artwork in the pre-digital age, as well as a professional CV.

If you get the chance, do drop by; we’re around a lot of the time so can be on hand to talk you through the show and answer any questions.

Video and music track listings for the show are available here.

All photos Donald Smith.

Coming soon! The Barney Bubbles exhibition!

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Exciting news – the Barney Bubbles exhibition opens in London this autumn.

PROCESS: The working practices of Barney Bubbles will run from September 14 to October 23 at leading London gallery Chelsea Space.

PROCESS will present many fascinating exhibits  – some displayed for the first time in public – to pinpoint Barney Bubbles’ approach to the body of design work which has cemented his reputation as one of the greats in his field.

By examining  Bubbles’ activities from leaving art school in the early 60s to his death in 1983, PROCESS also traces an important strand in the development of the practice of graphic design.

Situated as it is within the grounds of Chelsea College Of Art & Design in the shadow of Tate Britain, Chelsea Space’s hosting of PROCESS will provide students of design and the visual arts and other creative disciplines – as well as the visitors to the home of British art – with vital insights into pre-digital working methods across the range of media.

Delineating the stages of production, PROCESS will also investigate the ways in which Bubbles conjured brilliance by his unique conflation of references and influences.

PROCESS will be complemented by a series of events, including an opening party, talks, q&as and performances from musicians, designers, photographers and others who worked with Bubbles.

We’ll be unveiling details of that programme over the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled. Already we’ve agreed participation with quite a few people, some of whom will be speaking publicly for the first time about their association with, and appreciation for, the work of this intriguing and elusive figure.

Chelsea Space is the place where The Clash, B.A.D., Carbon Silicon and Gorillaz mainman Mick Jones launched his installation The Rock & Roll Public Library, which has evolved as it has toured other spaces.

Similarly we’re looking for PROCESS to be the first manifestation in a rolling series of  Barney Bubbles shows over the coming years.

For more info on the exhibition keep in touch by subscribing here and contacting us at info@barneybubbles.com

Barney’s t-shirts from Alfalpha to Hawklords to Wangford

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Prompted by the forthcoming regrouping of Hawklords at Nik Turner’s Barney Bubbles Memorial Concert on Sunday November 29, here’s yet another exclusive: Barney Bubbles’ sketches for a front-and-back-printed t-shirt for the Hawkwind splinter group’s 1978 dystopian project 25 Years On.

Hawklord t-shirt design Barney Bubbles, 1978. (C) Reasons 2009.

These were drawn in the bottom right-hand corner of an otherwise blank sheet of one of his pads, and feature the heraldic/masonic symbols Barney  incorporated in the concept album’s design.

Hawklords booklet 1978. Design/Concept: Barney Bubbles. Photography/Concept: Chris Gabrin.

As detailed in Reasons To Be Cheerful, years before merchandise became an ancillary money-spinner for the music biz, Barney was integrating his Hawkwind approach by providing tees for the band and gig-goers based on his designs for X In Search Of Space, Space Ritual and Doremi Fasol Latido and the Hawkwind/Man 1999 Party US tour poster.

Lorry Sartorio 1964. Design/Concept/Photography: Barney Bubbles. (C) L. Sartorio/Reasons 2009.

As we’ve noted here, Barney first designed t-shirts in 1964, creating one worn by his girlfriend Lorry Sartorio for a poster he made for college band The Muleskinners (featuring his pal and Face Ian McLagan).

Alfalpha t-shirt detail, 1976. (C) Jeff Dexter.

In 1976 he supplied an amazing logo design for his friend Jeff Dexter, then co-managing Hawkwind with Tony Howard and also looking after an ill-fated combo Alfalpha. This logo appeared on badges Barney created in conjunction with his friend Joly McFie of Better Badges and t-shirts in fluorescent pink on black with a diamante in the text. “They were very kool – made by his other mate Alan Holden from Sunrise Studios,” says Jeff.  

Ian Dury t-shirt, 1978. (C) Ian Dury Family Estate/Reasons 2009.

And when punk and new wave took off, Barney provided many t-shirt designs for his friends, such as this Lissitzky-informed Ian Dury tee from 1978.

Back, Imperial Bedroom US tour t-shirt, 1982. (C) Reasons 2009.

By 1982 Barney was contributing not only his album covers but also detail from the artwork to t-shirts, such as the “bedbug”  which appeared on the back of the top fronted by his Imperial Bedroom painting for a US tour by Elvis Costello & The Attractions.

Front, Hank Wangford Band sweatshirt, 1983. (C) Reasons 2009.

When his friend from the 60s counterculture days Sam Hutt – aka Hank Wangford – started to make waves on the UK music scene around the same time, Barney not only supplied album artwork but also came up with a wonderful range of t-shirt designs which mixed Argyll knitwear and grey marl with cowpoke.

Back, Hank Wangford Jogging With Jesus t-shirt 1983. (C) Reasons 2009.

Tickets for the Barney Bubbles Memorial Concert at the 229 Club, London on Sunday November 29 are available here.

Kate Moross ♥ Barney Bubbles

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

12in sleeve. Choose Your Own Adventure, heartsrevolution, iheartcomix, 2008.

If proof were needed that Barney Bubbles continues to inspire contemporary designers more than a quarter of a century after his death, look no further than London’s own Kate Moross, the 23-year-old making waves around the world with a remarkable body of work which first started to attract attention while she was still at Camberwell College of Arts.

Poplluxxe, Cutting Pink With Knives, 2009.

10in card gatefold. Back and front, Populuxxe, Cutting Pink With Knives, Isomorph, 2008.

Inner gatefold, Populuxe, Cutting Pink With Knives.

Moross shares Barney’s deft use of colour, concerns for isometry, geometry and architectural form and his appetite for music (operating vinyl-only label Isomorph). She is similarly fascinated by symbols – not least the repeated representation of her trademark three triangles – and applies a serious work ethic across a range of media and disciplines.

Moross determinedly creates at the cross-hatches of fine art and graphic design but, in a similar fashion to Barney, refuses to be pinned down stylistically.

Right: Badges. Left: Logo, Vauxhall Skate roller-disco, 2008.

Her flyers, posters, stickers, record sleeves, t-shirts, art direction, lighting design, stage sets and videos for the likes of La Roux,  Simian Mobile Disco, heartsrevolution and Telepathe  exemplify a dedication to detail and a ready wit.


Music video, directed by Jo Apps and Kate Moross. Audacity Of Huge, Simian Mobile Disco, 2009.

Moross – who has designed for record labels including Allido and Merok Records, created campaigns for such companies as Cadbury’s and a clothing range for Top Shop – was introduced to Barney’s work via his 1977 sleeve for The Damned’s album Music For Pleasure.

12in sleeve, card. Music For Pleasure, The Damned, Stiff Records, 1977.

From left: Back sleeve, both sides of inner, Music For Pleasure.

“It was old and new and confusing,” Moross told us while on the road this summer: last month she took part in Semi Permanent, the international design event in New Zealand, lining up with fellow Brits Harry Pearce (of Pentagram), Sanky (AllofUs) and Tim Beard (Bibliotheque), as well as such design legends as David Carson.

Moross during her Semi Permanent presentation, Auckland, August 15 2009. Photo: Otis Hu.

“I love confusing,” declares Moross. “I love codes and symbols, so Music For Pleasure has everything; graphic and illustrative, pattern and block colours, everything mixed together perfectly.”

La Roux t-shirt, 2009.

Moross says that the coherence within Barney’s disparate methods and styles lies in his ability to “fit the brief, and that’s what every artist or designer’s goal should be. Not everything needs to be the same, but it should always be brilliant, and Barney was brilliant”.

Left: Concert flyer, 2006. Right: Pull-out poster, Super Super, issue 6, 2007.

Moross’s rise coincided with the reawakening of interest in illustration, packaging and graphics in music circles in the Noughties.

Left: Clubnight poster 2007. Right: Test Card clubnight ident, 2008.

Advertising campaign, Cadbury's Dairy Milk, 2009.

“I think that the Sixties and Seventies did wonders, but then the Eighties and Nineties kind of stopped caring; it was the artists that sold the music, not the art,” she believes.

7in card with foil imprint. Into The Galaxy, Midnight Juggernauts, Isomorph, 2009.

“But it came back round. Packaging and design were back, labels and bands started employing illustrators and designers to make something special again.”

Packaging 12in vinyl and jewel case CD. Temporary Pleasure, Simian Mobile Disco, Wichita, 2009.

Moross is particularly keen on the 7in sleeve for Ian Dury & The Blockheads‘ 1978 number one single Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick.

7in sleeve, paper. Back and front cover, Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, Ian Dury & The Blockheads, Stiff Records, 1978.

“I love the way the fractured isometric shapes are broken apart in a bold three-colour composition and then beautifully reconstructed on the reverse,” she said.

10in debossed laser-foiled matt sleeve. Back and front, Switchblade EP, heartsrevolution, ISO 2008.

Sleeve detail, Switchblade EP.

Foil sticker, Switchblade EP.

“To be honest, I didn’t know Barney’s work until recently,” Moross added. “But when I found it, I wished I could have been around at a time of such awesome creativity within musical ephemera. I feel like, with my enthusiasm, I would have fitted in well.”

That may be true. But their loss in the Seventies and Eighties is definitely our gain today.

Articulating Ian Dury’s 1978 tee

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

As a corollary to yesterday’s doings on Do It Yourself (and a riff on the recent El Lissitzky post), thought you’d like to see this rare shot of a t-shirt Barney Bubbles designed for his mate Ian Dury in 1978.

The Blockheads‘ soundman Chris Warwick is wearing one in the self-timed shots on the Do It Yourself  inner sleeve.

The articulation of blocks and rectangles which assemble Dury’s name is inspired by Lissitzky’s 1922 book About 2 Squares, in which ordered objects are scattered by the impact of the two quadrants of the title. As a result perspective and projection are challenged and a new order is imposed.

And they see a black mess, About 2 Squares, El Lissitzky, 1922.

Barney’s arrangements of ordered rectangular forms were rooted in Lissitzky’s investigations, particularly the so-called “prouns“.

Music press ad, La Dusseldorf, La Dusseldorf, Radar 1978.

 

1978 offers a number of examples in Barney’s work, including a music press advert for  La Dusseldorf’s self-titled debut and the sleeve and booklet for 25 Years On by Hawklords.

Booklet, 25 Years On, Hawklords, Charisma 1978.

Then there is the sleeve of Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick. That’s the song which made Ian Dury’s name, taking him to the top of the charts.

Back + front cover, Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, Ian Dury & The Blockheads, Stiff Records, 1978.

And Dury’s refusal to include the track on his second album brings us back to where we started: the all-out campaign to promote Do It Yourself. 

 

Zip Nolan: an intriguing exclusive

Monday, April 27th, 2009

We’re indebted to Doug Smith for providing this original and previously unpublished Barney Bubbles artwork complete with printing instructions.

(c) Doug Smith 2009

Logo by Barney Bubbles. (C) Doug Smith 2009.

The former Hawkwind manager and a close friend of Barney’s, Doug says: “I always thought we asked him to do it, but what with my memory being what it is, I wasn’t sure. Anyway, I came across it the other day and sure enough there’s Barney’s writing at the bottom.”

Zip Nolan Highway Patrol was a creation of Barney’s friend Michael Moorcock dating back to the late 50s, and appeared in Fleetway Publications’ comic Lion in various forms until the early 70s. Original artwork is currently fetching three figures on eBay.

Original Zip Nolan artwork, 1963.

Original Zip Nolan artwork, 1963.

In 2005 the Zip Nolan character was revived in the six-issue Albion, plotted by Alan Moore and written by his daughter Leah Moore and her husband John Reppion. This was published as a book by Wildstorm in the US and Titan in the UK.

Left: Albion number 3. Right: The Albion book

Left: Albion issue 3. Right: The Albion book, Titan.

Michael doesn’t recall having seen Barney’s Zip Nolan logo until now. “I’d guess it was Barney doing a pop art rip,” he says. “I hadn’t written a Zip Nolan since 1963.”

As revealed here, Barney had worked for Fleetway around that time, having been commissioned to produce a Mods & Rockers special for the company in 1964 (which gave rise to the R&B Here Tonight t-shirt  and the award-winning Muleskinners poster).

The lettering style of Barney’s Zip Nolan logo chimes with that for The Glastonbury Fayre triple-album package of 1972.

Left: Clear vinyl envelope. Right: Booklet cover. The Glastonbury Fayre, Revelation, 1972. (C) Jeff Dexter.

Left: Clear vinyl envelope. Right: Booklet cover. The Glastonbury Fayre, Revelation, 1972. (C) Jeff Dexter.

1972 also saw the publication of a Lion annual featuring on it’s cover – who else? – Zip Nolan. And the character was to inspire a single of the same name a few years later by The Cult Figures, an obscure power-pop tune produced under the wing of indie pioneers Swell Maps.

New Knockout R&B tee

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

To mark the launch of this blog we’ve produced a limited edition t-shirt based on the one in Barney Bubbles’ award-winning poster Knockout R&B Here Tonight.

Women's tee. (c) Reasons 2009

As originally modeled by Barney’s friend, the “mod queen” Lorry Sartorio, the tee name-checks Twickenham art school band The Muleskinners, whose ranks included Ian McLagan, superstar keyboard player with the Small Faces, The Faces, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.

T-shirt detail. (c) Reasons 2009.

And, to seal the connection,  the back of our new tee has a reproduction of the “Cossack” ticket for a Muleskinners’ performance on Eel Pie Island (or “Eelpiland” as Barney called it).

We’ve given tees to Barney’s family members as well as some of his close friends, including Mac and Lorry, who were suitably knocked out when we presented them. 

Custom made tags. (c) Reasons 2009.

To cover the costs of production we are now making available a very limited number in Men’s L and Women’s M sizes. These come with tags with a potted history of the shirt and a reproduction of a frame of Lorry from the photo-shoot.

For more info and to buy, click here.