Posts Tagged ‘Do It Yourself’

Barney Bubbles lines up with the greats with a clutch of works in MoMA’s 2014 diary

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

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Barney Bubbles is included among the greats of 20th Century art, design and photography in the handsome 2014 appointments calendar issued by New York’s Museum Of Modern Art.

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//Poster for The Damned’s album Damned Damned Damned, Stiff Records, 1977. (C) Barney Bubbles Estate//

 

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//Litho print of variant of front cover design for Do It Yourself by Ian Dury & The Blockheads, Stiff Records, 1979. (C) Barney Bubbles Estate//

 

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//Elvis Costello poster for Lives Stiffs tour, 1977. (C) Barney Bubbles Estate.//

The ring-bound calendar includes illustrations of work by such artists as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Ferdinand Léger as well as designs by Shin Matsunaga, Seymour Chwast, Milton Glaser and Ralf Winkler.

MoMA has selected three Bubbles works from its collection: posters for the 1977 Live Stiffs tour and The Damned’s debut album and a litho print of one of the variants of his design for Ian Dury & The Blockheads’ 1979 Do It Yourself LP.

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//Back cover of MoMA’s 2014 calendar, designed by Adam&Co//

There are 10 Bubbles designs in MoMA’s permanent collection, donated by the prominent New York art collector Lawrence Benenson. View them here.

Three London exhibitions feature Barney Bubbles designs

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Barney Bubbles sleeve variants for Do It Yourself by Ian Dury & The Blockheads, as featured in the exhibition Ideal Home at Chelsea Space, London.

Designs by Barney Bubbles feature in three exhibitions which have opened in London this week.

Above are 24 of the Crown wallpaper variations of Bubbles sleeve design for the 1979 album Do It Yourself By Ian Dury & The Blockheads, as featured in the Donald Smith-curated group show Ideal Home at Chelsea Space.

Below is sneaky iPhone shot of Bubbles’ extraordinary design for Armed Forces by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, which was released the same year as Do It Yourself and appears in the V&A’s big autumn show Postmodernism: Style & Subversion 1970-1990.

Barney Bubbles' sleeve design for Armed Forces by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, as featured in the Postmodernism exhibition at the V&A.

Barney Bubbles' Elvis Costello/Live Stiffs tour poster as featured in the exhibition Mindful Of Art at London's Old Vic Tunnels.

And above is a shot of Bubbles’ Elvis Costello poster for the 1977 Live Stiffs tour, which looms large in the subterreanean Old Vic Tunnels, venue for Stuart Semple’s exhibition Mindful Of Art, which is in aid of mental health charity Mind. The poster was sold last night at a gala auction hosted by Stephen Fry and Melvyn Bragg.

Also on display is a video installation by Kate Moross incorporating many Bubbles designs. Beamed from three TV screens this powerful light-show is cut to Hawkwind’s live 1972 track Orgone Accumulator.

Ideal Home is at Chelsea Space, Chelsea College Of Art & Design, 16 John Islip Street, London SW1P 4JU until October 22. Details here.

Postmodernism: Style & Subversion 1970-1990 is at the V&A, CRomwell Road, London SW7 2RL until January 15, 2012. Details here.

Mindful Of Art  is the Old Vic Tunnels, Station Approach, London SE1 8SW until next Monday, September 26. Details here.

Willow wins 70s Style & Design competition!

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

We have a winner of our competition for a copy  of Kirsty  Hislop and Dominic Lutyens’ estimable 70s Style & Design.

Congratulations to Willow Timmons of Cardiff, whose name was picked out of the hat for providing the correct answer to the question:

Which album by Ian Dury & The Blockheads featured 28 front cover variations of 1970s Crown wallpaper patterns? 

It was of course Do It Yourself – read all about the story behind the design here.

Your copy of 70s Style & Design will be winging its way from publisher Thames & Hudson to you very soon Willow.

Commiserations to the many other entrants and best of luck next time – we have more exciting competitions coming this way so keep your peepers peeled.

Hats off to Dublog’s alternative record sleeve stamps

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Hats off to Dublog for coming up with alternatives to the Royal Mail’s largely lazy collection of rock record sleeve stamps.

Dublogs selection.

Dublog's selection.

Dublog’s remix is groovier, with Barney Bubbles included with the most widely-circulated of his 28 Do It Yourself Crown wallpaper covers.

12in laminated card. Front cover, Do It Yourself, Ian Dury & The Blockhead, Stiff Records, 1979. One of 10 UK issue.

One of the 10 alternatives printed in the UK, it was the first one I bought (in the week of issue in May 1979).

Crown provided the cover samples on the proviso that each album carried a catalogue number so that impressed purchasers could order designs direct.

Reasons To Be Cheerful contributor Malcolm Garrett is represented by Magazine’s 1980 album The Correct Use Of Soap as is Peter Saville, since the original sandpaper sleeve for The Return Of The Durutti Column was produced on his watch at Factory Records in 1980, though there is dispute as to whether Peter was involved in its creation.

The other designs are, from top left:  God Save The Queen, Sex Pistols (Jamie Reid 1977); Doolittle, Pixies (Simon Larbalestier/Vaughn Oliver 1989); Songs About Fucking, Big Black (1987); Best Dressed Chicken in Town, Dr Alimantado (D.K. James/David Hendley 1978); Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, Spiritualized (Jason Pierce/Mark Farrow 1997); and Go 2 , XTC (Hipgnosis 1978).

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of Do It Yourself

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Today we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Do It Yourself  by Ian Dury & The Blockheads with a visual feast including previously unpublished images.


  
When the album came out on May 18, 1979, much was made of the fact that the wallpaper cover was available in a number of variations. There have been claims that as many as 56 were printed in stock from the Crown range. We found 27 in the course of researching Reasons To Be Cheerful, most of which are reproduced here.  

The inspiration for the cover came from a book of wallpaper samples; as ever Barney Bubbles delighted in elevating the mundane and everyday, though his initial proposal was for four covers.

When Stiff Records‘ boss Dave Robinson persuaded Crown to provide the materials for free in exchange for featuring the order number on the front of the album, Stiff swiftly escalated the plans with 10 alone for the UK and many others for their licensees around the world.

With screw-hole lettering embossed onto the surface of the wallpaper, the front cover carries the tracklisting and also a Barney classic; an illustration entitled “Tommy The Talking Toolbox says it’s…for all the family to enjoy!”

(c) Diana Fawcett/Reasons 2009

One piece of original artwork unearthed for the book contains part of the lyric from the album’s lead-track Inbetweenies, which was released as a single in some countries.

The back cover carries a Chris Gabrin photograph of Dury and the Blockheads lined up outside a wig shop; this is mirrored in abstract form in a painting by Barney on one side of the inner, entitled “Better Being Mugs Than Being Smug”.

The other side of the inner – headed “Ultramine” with Gabrin billed as “Gabrinovsky” – features the musicians and their team hand-triggering portrait shots of themselves.

(c) Diana Fawcett/Reasons 2009.

A lot was riding on the album’s release. It’s predecessor – New Boots & Panties!! – had established Ian Dury as a new wave star, remaining in the charts for 90 weeks and setting up hits such as Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick

When Dury refused to allow Hit Me to appear on the album, the Stiff staff, including marketing men Alan Cowderoy and Paul Conroy (who went on to work with hit acts from Madness to the Spice Girls), pulled out all the stops with an advertising and promotional campaign which integrated Barney’s design work centred around the theme of home improvement.

Barney’s paintbrush and paint logo for the record label was extended across posters, in-store banners and music press ads, as were his graphics representing paint splashes and stains.

Famously, Stiff sent teams of wallpaper hangers to decorate music press offices before journalists arrived while the exterior of record label’s offices received similar treatment. 

Left: Dury outside Stiff. Pic: Redferns. Right: Inbetweenies 12", Stiff France.

A photo-shoot took place at Barney’s Shoreditch studio with Ian Dury  - complete with knotted hankie on his head – as a housepainter.

Right (c) Alan Cowderoy/Reasons 2009.

Barney created point of display artwork on clear vinyl to be posted in record shop windows, and press ads and many badges (including an adapted Blockheads logo) continued the theme.

Promotional items even included “Blockhead” tins of paint while posters such as the one on the right below (which belongs to designer Alan Aboud) were printed on wallpaper and pasted onto exterior walls. 

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Typical of his approach to advertising in this period, Barney exploited the presence of five weekly music papers with different ads using spot-colour to “paint” and decorate full pages. Several incorporated his Blockhead ideogram (which has been identified on John Coulthart’s Barney post by Paul Murphy as stemming from British political imprint of the 30s, the Left Book Club).

One  is a cut-out-and-keep face mask (so that the reader could, er, do it themselves…), while another features a splash of paint over one “eye”. The Watchmen ident has always put me in mind of this image.

The  volume and sustained quality of the work is impressive, particularly since Barney also delivered sleeves and promotional, advertising and marketing designs for other projects in this period, including Labour Of Lust by Nick Lowe and Frogs, Sprouts, Clogs And Krauts by The Rumour and their attendant singles.

In the event, Do It Yourself didn’t achieve the hoped-for sales levels. The absence of Hit Me was compounded by the mercurial Dury’s decision to hastily release  a new track as the next single.

Reasons To be Cheerful Part 3 was recorded while on the road in Europe, and released a month or so after Do It Yourself (and effectively eclipsing it). The artwork was not designed by Barney but Dury’s friend and former art-school teacher Peter Blake. But that’s another story…

Fun for all the family at Howies

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Tommy The Talking Toolbox would have been proud.

Fun for all the family was had at Howies store in Bristol on Thursday night as our pals at the Barney-mad company hosted an evening to celebrate the publication of Reasons To Be Cheerful.

With the invaluable support and assistance of Howies mainmen Nick Hand (who also took these photos) and Tim March, we mounted a mini-display in a hitherto unused upstairs room as the first in a series of monthly events the guys are organising.

The core of our little taster was a collection of 24 of the 27 variations to the cover of Do It Yourself by Ian Dury & The Blockheads.

Pic: Nick Hand.

This seemed particularly appropriate since the site was once occupied by a Laura Ashley branch; some of the walls in the until-now disused upstairs space are still covered in her divinely daft and dated flowery wallpaper.

Part of the original artwork for 4000 Weeks Holiday (c) P. Kennedy/Reasons 2009

To keep the ID/BB theme going, we also displayed original artefacts and artwork, including the paste-up for what later became the cover of Ian’s 1984 album 4000 Weeks Holiday.

Thought to be among the very last projects Barney worked on, this has been contributed to the Reasons archive by our friend Pauline Kennedy. In her previous incarnation as Caramel Crunch, Pauline was Barney’s assistant and continued his work at such labels as Go! Discs.

  • Presentation in Howies’ denim room.
  • With a book signing and talk about Barney, complete with power-point presentation of images from the book, the evening was capped by Paul and Caz mixing up the aural medicine with DJ sets of Barney-related sounds. These, we’re happy to tell you, went down a storm.

    BARNEY BUBBLES SOUND SELECTION:

    Here’s a selection of 10 of the Barney best to warm the cockles (click on the links to download/buy):

    Eastbourne Ladies – Kevin Coyne (Marjory Razorblade 1973)

    Inbetweenies – Ian Dury & The Blockheads (Do It Yourself 1979)

    Lipstick Vogue -  Elvis Costello & The Attractions (This Year’s Model 1978)

    Fung Kee Laundry – Quiver (Gone In the Morning 1972)

    Love My Way - The Psychedelic Furs (Forever Now 1982)

    Opa-Loka – Hawkwind (Warrior On The Edge Of Time 1975)

    Post-War Glamour Girl – John Cooper Clarke (Disguise In Love (1978)

    Darling Let’s Have Another Baby – Johnny Moped (Cycledelic 1978)

    Just Can’t Get Enough - Depeche Mode (Speak & Spell 1981)

    Ghost Town - The Specials (single 1981)

    These are just a few examples of how the BBSS can get the joint jumping. For a playlist from Caz’s set see Howies’ blog  Brainfood.

    Peter York’s Grey Hopes

    Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

    Barney Bubbles credited one of the most creatively satisfying phases of his career to a prescient feature by marketing guru and cultural commentator Peter York published in the September 1978 issue of Harpers & Queen magazine.

    York’s piece, headlined Grey Hopes, investigated the ageing demographic of the rock consumer and the concurrent wave of post-modernism pervading popular music. “The paradox of rock is that at precisely the time that a new rock sensibility is starting to invade the commercial heartland, the whole rock thing is uncomfortably coming of age,” wrote York, who also declared: “Rock & roll is the hamburger which ate the world.”

    Extract from letter to Diane Fawcett, late 1978.

    Extract from letter to Diana Fawcett, late 1979.

    Presenting research which showed that 25- to 44-year-olds, not teens, had become the largest single group of record buyers, York pointed to the likes of Roxy Music as examples of art rockers who “consciously saw rock as a medium like any other”.

    Reasons author Paul Gorman and Peter York, July 2008

    Reasons author Paul Gorman and Peter York, July 2008.

    York cites the highly referential example of Generation X, which was apposite; Barney designed two of the group’s single sleeves, the El Lissitzy-quoting Your Generation and the symbol-strewn King Rocker (available in four variations denoting vinyl colours).

    Tony James: Barney took our ideas an inspired step further.

    Tony James: "Barney took our ideas an inspired step further."

    Guitarist Tony James says that, during the planning stages of the sleeves, he and Gen X singer Billy Idol talked to Barney about t-shirts they had designed in a Constructivist style.  “Barney looked at our original ideas and took them a very inspired step further,” he adds.

    In a letter to his assistant and friend Diana Fawcett late in 1979, Barney says that York’s article “gave me my orders for the year” regarding “technology, urban environment, rock, etc”. He also says that he had carried out “everything I wanted to. It was a great, successful year”.

     

    Inner sleeve, labour Of Lust, 1979

    Inner sleeve, Labour Of Lust, 1979. (c) Riviera Global

    This is true; the previous 12 months had been an extraordinarily fruitful period. Notwithstanding the advertising and promotional material which formed the bedrock of his business, Barney had also executed such triumphs as the redesign of the NME and creation of the paper’s Book Of Modern Music as well as sleeves for albums such as Armed Forces by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, 25 Years On by Hawklords (including the integrated stage show set), Do It Yourself by Ian Dury & The Blockheads, Labour Of Lust by Nick Lowe and Frogs, Sprouts, Clogs And Krauts by The Rumour.

    In addition Barney completed the catalogue for the Lives exhibition at The Hayward (in which he also participated) as well as Brian Griffin’s Copyright, The Ian Dury Songbook and The John Cooper Clarke Directory. We shall be exploring all of these and more over the coming months.

    Artwork for advert for Splash by Clive Langer & The Boxes 1980. (c) Riviera Global

    Barney also tells Diana he has “had his orders” for 1980, the coming year. Since this was to witness advances into video-direction, painting, the realisation of the ambitious visual identity for the new F-Beat label AND a slew of releases by Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Carlene Carter, Clive Langer & The Boxes, Rockpile, Inner City Unit,  Dirty Looks and many more, it can safely be assumed the instructions came from as rich a source as York’s Grey Hopes.