Sometimes, writing about graphics can feel like a constant harking back to a golden age of British graphic design, long since lost to the evil forces of photography, Photoshop and general bad taste. But not everything from that time has disappeared.
Like Artist Partners for example, who are not only still going but have set up a usefully informative website which covers their past as well as their present. And their past was very glorious indeed.
Founded in 1950, the agency represented some of the biggest names in illustration, graphics and photography from the fifties onward. There’s no point repeating their entire history, because they’ve done the job already. Although I was particularly interested to see that Reginald Mount was one of the founding partners. He’s a fascinating character who seems to pop up at all sorts of interesting points in the history of graphics, and I’d be interested in finding out more about him one of these days.
They’ve put together a small retro section on their website as well, with a few nice images, like these Sunday Times advertisements by Patrick Tilley.
But it’s not the website that made me want to post about them, it’s this (the cover also, incidentally, designed by Tilley), which we’ve had on the bookshelves for a while now.
Dating from, I guess, the early to mid 50s, it’s a brochure for the artists represented by AP, and a very delightful book in its own right. Here’s one of the section headings for example.
Or this one, by none other than Tom Eckersley
Oh to be sitting at at an advertising agency desk in 1954 and trying to decide who to commission. Because there is such as wealth of wonderful talent in this book. Amongst other people, Artist Partners represented Eckersley, Hans Unger, George Him, Eileen Evans, and of course Reginald Mount. And even Saul Bass. Here’s a trade advertisement for Enfield Cables.
And a rather fetching advertisement for Technicolour by George Him.
My main sadness is that it’s only partially in colour, because there are simply hundreds of pieces which I haven’t ever seen before. For every page like this
(Two Hans Ungers – one GPO, one London Transport, a Leupin and another Patrick Tilley)
there are ten like this.
I’ve managed to find the peas one in colour at least for your entertainment.
That’s more than enough for now, but I’ve still only barely scratched the surface of this wonderful book. I’ll post some more images from it next week.
But if you can’t wait that long, Abebooks is offering one copy for sale. I can’t tell you anything about the condition as it’s all in German – but let me know how it is if you can’t resist anyway (or, indeed, if you speak German). Well it was there this morning, but now it’s gone. Hope you like it.