Lawrence Zeegen is an educator, illustrator and writer. As Head of the School of Communication Design at Kingston University he leads teaching and research in graphic design, illustration, animation and photography at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He is a regular contributing illustrator for The Guardian newspaper and has written 5 books on contemporary illustration. Recently appointed to Icograda’s Executive Board, as the only UK member, he presents a paper on design writing at the Icograda Spring 2011 conference in Vilnius, Lithuania this week.
Design for the Real World Victor Papanek
First published in 1971, translated into numerous languages and never out of print, I came across this book for the first time in 1982 while a student on the Art and Design Foundation Course at Basingstoke Technical College. This book was a revelation – here was a designer and educator that believed in the responsibility of design – ‘design has become the most powerful tool with which man shapes his tools and environments’ he wrote. As a young design student I cared passionately, and continue to do so, about good design looking good – Papanek taught me, through this book, that ‘only a small part of our responsibility lies in the area of aesthetics.’ I am guilty of putting form before function from time to time but through Papanek, with an awareness of my responsibilities. If you only read one book on design – this is it.
The Question and Answer Book of Everyday Science Ruth A. Sonnborn
By the time that I received this book, published in 1961 as a gift from my parents in 1970, I was six years old. To say that Robert J. Lee’s illustrations relating to ‘The Sky and the Outdoors’, ‘Fire and Heat’ ‘Things You Use’ and ‘Machines that Work for You’ set me on a path that would start with a BA in Graphic Design at Camberwell and an MA in Illustration at the RCA through the 1980s before making an career as an illustrator might sound far-fetched. Find a copy of this book and see for yourself – truly inspirational illustrations. The book did nothing for my interest in the sciences – I failed O level Physics and Chemistry – able to draw the diagrams, unable to comprehend what they meant.
Strand – For the Stamps of the World – Stamp Album Stanley Gibbons
Grandma and Grandpa Zeegen gave me this stamp album as a birthday present in 1971 and I filled it with stamps from across the world, though mainly from communist countries as my uncle, Maurice (Mod) Zeegen, worked for the Communist Party in Prague and sent me bags of stamps collected from the mail delivered to the party headquarters. My favourite stamps, at the time, were a set from San Marino of Disney characters – left wing Mod was a touch disappointed, of that I’m sure. Stamp collections have always fascinated me – I was asked to design a set of stamps for the Royal Mail straight after my graduation from the RCA and this was the book I turned to for inspiration.
Here is New York A Democracy of Photographs Various
You’ve seen this book. ‘Seeing in not only believing. Seeing is seeing.’ wrote Michael Shulan in the intro to this chilling collection of 9/11 photographs. Felix Zeegen, aged 11, pulls this book out of the bookcase every visit he makes to stay with me in London. He sits transfixed for hours asking every question imaginable about that day a decade ago. With Osama bin Laden captured and killed last week Felix’s questions have intensified – this book of a 1000 photographs of the 5000 photographs taken by 3000 photographers, and consequently exhibited, gives visual meaning to his questions. This is the largest photographic archive in world history devoted to a single event.
Mini London A-Z Street Atlas & Index
Before the iPhone people used the A-Z. As a cycle dispatch rider, to earn some much-needed cash throughout the mid-1980s the A-Z was my bible. At that time I knew nothing of its origins but later discovered the history. Phyllis Pearsall had set out for a party in Belgravia on a wet night in 1935 but having used a 16-year old map to navigate her journey she arrived very late and very wet. A year later she had created the first A-Z. Before satellite imaging or much aerial photography, Pearsall had walked 3,000 miles during 18-hour days mapping the 23,000 streets of 1930s London. Pearson was an artist, before anything else, and the project was intended to fund her passion. Rejected by publishers, she printed 10,000 copies and sold them directly to WH Smith. Choosing the name A-Z from the index – the publication was a hit. The ultimate artist’s book.