Posts Tagged ‘David Carson’

Moods for postmoderns: Barney Bubbles at the V&A

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Top: Armed Forces by Elvis Costello & The Attractions (Radar 1979); Music For Pleasure by The Damned (Stiff 1977)

Front covers, 12in card. Top: Armed Forces, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Radar, 1979. Above: Music For Pleasure, The Damned, Stiff Records, 1977.

Coming soon to the V&A is the first full-scale exhibition to tackle Postmodernism, and it not only positions Barney Bubbles as “the key innovator” in music graphics in the 1970s but also aligns his practices with those of Robert Rauschenberg in fine art and Frank Gehry in architecture.

According to curator Glenn Adamson, Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990 will also show how Bubbles’ work anticipated that of the digital design pioneers of the late 80s and early 90s such as David Carson.

“Bubbles was creating by hand work which looks to our eyes as though it were assembled on a computer,” says Adamson. “He foreshadows the visual eclecticism we find so natural in the internet age”

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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.