Inspiration

Vaughan Oliver, the visual master of 4AD passes away

Vaughan Oliver, the visual master of 4AD passes away 1200 800 martin

Vaughan Oliver, the acclaimed English graphic designer who defined the aesthetics of a whole post-punk genre via his work for London imprint 4AD amd one of the few graphic designers with an instantly recognisable style has passed away.

Born in Segefield, Durham County to working class parents “the young Oliver spent most of his school days in the ‘art room’ where he developed an interest in Surrealism and the work of Salvador Dali. The local record shop was his ‘art gallery’” writes Vaughan Oliver Archive’s Kickstarter page.

“After studying graphic design at the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Polytechnic, he went south to London to work for one of the big design groups. But Oliver wasn’t made for the world of commercial graphic design, and a chance encounter with the record label owner Ivo Watts Russell led to a 30-year marriage between Oliver and the cult indie label, 4AD. ”

“I like to elevate the banal through surrealism,” he has said. “Mystery and ambiguity are important weapons in a designer’s arsenal. I try to make images where you don’t always get “the message” straight away – but these things leave a hook in you. Leaving some space for interpretation is important.”

His enigmatic visuals are his trademarks, a tribute of his to Roger Dean and Dali, who inspired him to follow the path of graphic design and mesmerize everyone.

Oliver was best known for his work with graphic design studios 23 Envelope and v23. Both studios maintained a close relationship with record label 4AD between 1982 and 1998 and were to give distinct visual identities for the 4AD releases by many bands, including Mojave 3, Lush, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, The Breeders, This Mortal Coil, Pale Saints, Pixies, and Throwing Muses.

Oliver also designed record sleeves for such artists as David Sylvian, The Golden Palominos, and Bush.

Joy Division: 40 years on from ‘Unknown Pleasures’, astronomers revisit the pulsar from the iconic album cover

Joy Division: 40 years on from ‘Unknown Pleasures’, astronomers revisit the pulsar from the iconic album cover 1920 1060 martin

The English rock band Joy Division released their debut studio album “Unknown Pleasures” 40 years ago. The front cover doesn’t feature any words, only a now iconic black and white data graph showing 80 wiggly lines representing a signal from a pulsar in space. To mark the anniversary of the album, Manchester University recorded a signal from the same pulsar with a radio telescope in Jodrell Bank Observatory, only 14 miles (23 km) away from Strawberry Studios where the album was recorded.

Peter Saville – graphic designer and co-founder of Factory Records – designed the album cover based on a picture spotted by band member Bernard Sumner in an encyclopaedia. The picture itself can be traced to the work of the postgraduate student Harold Craft, who published the image in his PhD thesis in 1970.

What we see in this enigmatic image is the signal produced by a pulsar known as B1919+21, the first pulsar ever discovered. A pulsar is formed during the violent death of a star several times more massive than our sun. These stars go out with a bang known as a “supernova explosion”, during which the core of the exploding star is compressed in an almost perfect sphere with a radius of little more than 10 km. What’s formed is called a neutron star.

This stellar remnant, still more massive than our sun, is so extremely dense that the atoms from the original star cannot maintain their structure – they fall apart leaving smaller particles called neutrons, which form a vast ocean beneath the star’s crust. Pulsars are rapidly spinning neutron stars that can be observed from Earth. Thanks to their rotation and a magnetic field which is a trillion times stronger than that of the Earth, the magnetic north and south poles of these super magnets shine like a lighthouse. After having travelled for many hundreds of years, flashes of radiation from B1919+21 reach the Earth every 1.34 seconds.

These flashes from pulsars are especially bright at radio wavelengths, so their signals can be recorded using radio telescopes. A radio telescope works similar to a radio in your car – its antenna focuses radio waves from space onto a point where they can be detected and turned into an electric signal, which can then be converted into sound. They used the Mark II radio telescope of the Jodrell Bank Observatory at the University of Manchester for our recording.

Recording of the same pulsar, exactly 40 years after the album was released.
Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester

The album cover shows 80 wiggly lines which correspond to 80 flashes of radio waves from B1919+21, as the neutron star made 80 turns in 107 seconds. Unlike lighthouses on Earth, each flash is unique. Some flashes are bright – these are denoted in the image by their large spikes – and some are dim.

The shape of the pulses are ever changing. At first glance, they seem irregular and chaotic, but our new imaging reveals some order in the chaos. It’s the same number of pulses from the same pulsar and observed at the same frequency as the diagram from the album cover, but in the image below, a diagonal pattern of stripes emerges.

The signal of the same pulsar as featured on the album cover. The lighter the colour is, the more intense the radio waves are. Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester, Author provided

When the original signal was recorded, it was not known why some pulsars showed this kind of pattern. We now believe that the radio waves are produced by particles which shoot away from the neutron star at nearly the speed of light. The particles are created by electric discharges between the ionised gas surrounding these objects and the surface of the star itself. So, in essence, the radio waves on the album cover and in our new imaging are caused by lightning in outer space, observed many light years away.

A “weather map” can help visualise the vast lightning systems which circulate the magnetic poles of pulsars. The pattern of their lightning changes continuously and the shape of the observed pulses appear somewhat erratic – but observing over a longer period allows a pattern to emerge.

 

Looking down on the magnetic pole of pulsar B1919+21 which is encircled by lightning. Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester, Author provided

Four decades after the release of the Unknown Pleasures album we now understand much better what those wiggly lines on its cover mean. But many questions remain about these enigmatic objects, which in many respects are nature’s most extreme creation. Something which remained true for all these years is that pulsar recordings push us to explore the limits of our understanding of the laws of physics.The Conversation

Patrick Weltevrede, Lecturer In Pulsar Astrophysics, University of Manchester
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Beautiful and captivating photographs of life on the London Underground back in the 1970s

Beautiful and captivating photographs of life on the London Underground back in the 1970s 962 801 martin


Holborn 1978 © Mike Goldwater. All images courtesy of Hoxton Mini Press.

Some things inevitably change while others stay the same. Did you know that in the 1970s, it was still acceptable to talk, kiss and even smoke on the London Underground?

What would that have looked like? Photographer Mike Goldwater spent many years documenting chance moments of intimacy and humour across the iconic network of tunnels that live beneath the capital.

The pictures, taken between 1970 and 1980, tenderly capture special moments, moments we still see today: the kisses goodbye, the buskers, the Friday night revellers, a man cradling a cat, and the commuters deep in thought and desperate to get home. We also see old ticket booths (before Travelcards existed), old school carriages, retro film posters and bell flares.

You can enjoy this fascinating series in a new book, London Underground 1970-1980. Arts writer Lucy Davies says in the book’s introduction: “Goldwater was already familiar with the Tube, though it was quite different from the one we know today. Back then, you had to buy your ticket from a window and show it at the barrier. The advertisements on the wall were unabashedly sexist. You could puff undisturbed on a cigar and tap your ash on the carriage floor.”

Lucy adds: “Some stations were lit only by individual hanging bulbs in white light shades, immersing travellers in a dim, Hades-like gloom. It made taking photographs incredibly difficult, forcing Goldwater to function at the very limit of his film’s capabilities, but it gives his pictures a wonderfully brooding, unearthly cast.”

London Underground 1970-1980 by Mike Goldwater is published by Hoxton Mini Press.

Shopfronts of London: Artist Eleanor Crow’s view

Shopfronts of London: Artist Eleanor Crow’s view 976 549 martin

Artist Eleanor Crow’s watercolours celebrating the beauty of London’s classic shopfronts are going on display in the capital.

 

Arthur’s Cafe, Kingsland Road, Dalston

Arthur Woodham opened his own café in 1948, having previously worked in his father’s cafe of the same name just down the road.

Young Arthur ran his for 70 years until he was 90, along with his wife, Eileen, and in recent years grandson James.

Spotless and serving up home-cooked breakfasts followed by traditional lunches with hand-cut chips, this celebrated destination was frequented by loyal customers for seven decades until its closure in 2018.

 

Barneys Seafood, Chamber Street, Tower Bridge

Tucked under a railway arch near the Tower of London, this legendary eel, fish and shellfish shop attracts hordes of East Enders, eager for eels freshly boiled on the premises.
The founder, Barney Gritzman, was the brother of Solly Gritzman, owner of the famous Tubby Isaac’s jellied eel stall. Barney opened his business before the start of World War Two and it has been run by the Button family, trading under the name Barneys, since 1970.

 

 

C W Tyzack, Kingsland Road, Shoreditch

Cecil Tyzack founded his business in 1936 and his shop, further down the Kingsland Road than Arthur’s Café, is still open, although it is no longer owned by the Tyzacks.

The family name lives on as a hand- and power-tool manufacturer, Tyzack Machine Knives.

Cecil was born into a branch of the Tyzack family of saw makers who came to London from Sheffield in 1839. They manufactured and sold tools from a succession of shops in Old Street until the beginning of this century.

Today vintage Tyzack tools are popular with collectors.

 

Daniel Lewis & Son, Hackney Road, Cambridge Heath

This was London’s oldest ironmonger, originally founded by Presland & Sons in 1797, purpose-built as a shop and factory.

In the 1890s it became W H Clark Ltd.

Daniel Lewis, who joined as a junior in 1948, took on the business in 1971 and continued trading under the Clark name.

Daniel’s son, David, worked there from 1992 and renamed it after his father in 2002.

In 2012, he was forced to close when council regulations prevented customers parking and restricted deliveries.

Since I painted it, the shopfront has been replaced by a new replica, which is a close copy of this Georgian original.

Until the end, the original interior, with all its fittings and the manufacturing workshops at the rear, survived, revealing how the business evolved, supplying first the coach-building industry and then metal fabricators, architects and sculptors.

 

The Cookery, Stoke Newington High Street, Stoke Newington

This drawing shows an uncharacteristically short queue. Often the line of customers extends all the way down the street, which is always a good sign – revealing that the meat is worth the wait.

I cherish this frontage, with its mid-century script in red on a glazed background, red canopy and grinning butcher mannequin, welcoming customers inside.

 

Sewell’s, Plaistow Road, Plaistow

This florist in Plaistow has been run by the Sewell family since the 1930s and is celebrated for its ingenious window displays.

I painted it during the Tour de France when the window featured two bicycles adorned with flowers beneath strings of bunting – all in yellow and adorned with Union Jacks in support of our team.

The wide pavement allows for a cheerful array of bedding plants outside to greet customers before they enter the fragrant interior, filled with buckets of cut flowers.

 

Syd’s, Calvert Avenue, Shoreditch

London’s oldest coffee stall has been open for a century and is still run by Sydney Tothill’s granddaughter, Jane.

This mahogany refreshment stall is one of my favourite London landmarks. It has moved from its pitch only once, to feature in the film Ebb Tide, starring Chili Bouchier, in 1931.

The stall opened 24 hours a day during World War Two, when the War Office brought Syd’s son (also Syd) back from a secret mission to ensure the supply of hot tea to the ambulance and fire brigades during the London Blitz, after Syd senior was traumatised by a bomb that exploded nearby.

The work can be seen at the Townhouse Gallery in Spitalfields until 20 October and is published by Spitalfields Life Books in collaboration with Batsford Books.

 

All illustrations by Eleanor Crow.
Full article on BBC news.

Branding a movement: Extinction Rebellion

Branding a movement: Extinction Rebellion 593 596 martin

Campaigners have issued three core demands to the government: to “tell the truth about climate change”; to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025; and to create a citizens’ assembly to oversee progress.

With such a clear and strongly communicated set of demands it is no surprise that XR’s other communications have also been equally well thought through. People were already activated but not organised and the XR movement has acted as a powerful force for bringing people together under a shared identity – something bigger than themselves that they can be part of.

 

Trust

A well-developed brand proposition can also engender feelings of affinity, belonging, and trust. This is important if you aspire for an existing network to evolve into a real movement. You are inviting people to activate and demand change whilst holding a banner with your logo on it. Do not underestimate the level of trust that is required for this to happen.

 

The brand toolkit

A huge amount of planning has gone into the Extinction Rebellion visual execution. They have an in-house art group, made up of graphic, fashion and stage designers and artists, who have created branded protest materials. Born from a strong visual foundation, they have expertly created a wider toolkit that is both recognisable yet adaptable.

The Extinction Rebellion logo was designed by a street artist who wishes to remain anonymous. The logo features a stylised sand-timer set inside a circle, representing the planet and is a clear symbol that time is running out. This references the warning from the United Nations that we have just 12 years to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or risk catastrophic changes to the planet’s climate.

This sand-timer logo combined with the language used throughout the campaign clearly highlights the scale and urgency of the climate crisis.

 

The simplicity of the logo has meant that it has been recreated on streets all over the globe in protest art and is instantly recognisable. It has been available for people to add to their facebook profile images, spreading the message further.

By contrasting the bold black logo and typeface with colourful graphics this works to give the movement an energetic and dynamic look and feel, emphasising the organisation’s passion and anger at the government’s in-action on climate change.

One of the most important things was that this movement needed to feel really inclusive. A lot of eco movements feel a bit hippy and exclusive, and not particularly urban. It was important to have a consistent look, so we could be an umbrella movement that everyone could come underneath.
Clive Russell, Graphic Designer at Extinction Rebellion

Pushing boundaries of design

Another great way of making the organisation inclusive and accessible has been the free availability of their protest graphics to download from their website, provided they are used strictly for non-corporate purposes. This open-sourcing of their graphics has allowed people to take a sense of ownership over the rebellion by making their own protest materials.

Maintaining a co-ordinated graphic identity in the corporate world is tricky, but this more spontaneous way gives the movement a stronger, more vibrant visual identity. It’s anti corporate subversiveness is what makes it so engaging and striking, lending itself to quick adaptions, home-made slogans and graffiti and that’s why I love it so much.

Click on the images to enlarge

50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing

50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing 1920 748 martin

NASA has released some incredible panoramas pieced together from images of the Apollo moon landings to celebrate their 50th anniversary of man walking on the moon.

Armstrong’s first step onto the lunar surface, on July 20th 1969, was broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience. He described the event as “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Apollo 11 effectively ended the Space Race and fulfilled a national goal proposed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy: “before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, both American, landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC. Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours 39 minutes later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC; Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth. Command module pilot Michael Collins flew the command module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while they were on the Moon’s surface. Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 hours 31 minutes on the lunar surface at a site they named Tranquility Base before lifting off to rejoin Columbia in lunar orbit.

The Little People Project

The Little People Project 1000 667 martin

Love some of the work on the The Little People Project, the best examples are those with a slight twist, making use of our urban landscapes. His work embodies elements of street art, sculpture, installation art and photography and are filled with political comment and the scourge of consumerism.

https://slinkachu.com/worka

PSB

PSB 540 532 martin

“…an image I felt was so good that I refused to put type over it”

– Mark Farrow

Farrow

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Design hero

FS Aldrin

FS Aldrin 1200 800 martin

Font Shop have produced a new font inspired by Buzz Aldrin:

FS Aldrin is a pure, modern rounded font available in 6 weights. Every curve and transition has been crafted by hand, giving a distinctive look and feel. They contacted the great man himself and were pretty excited with this reply: ‘Buzz and his team love the fonts and have been using them in his presentations. We hope everyone likes them as much as Team Buzz does!’

View here

Mountain biking

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My hobby and time to think…

It’s just a meter

It’s just a meter 1326 2048 martin

Rather lovely typography

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Creative juices

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