• Display_image_php

    British Medical Association identity

  • 2_john_lewis

    John Lewis identity

  • 7_d_ad1

    Bridge of Weir Leather identity

  • 8_vaux_cross

    D&AD

  • 10_nicholas_signs

    Vauxhall Cross identity

  • 11_meneba

    Nicholas Signs identity

  • 14_lcp_programme

    Meneba identity

  • 15_reuters

    LCP programme

  • 18_ln_leaflets

    Reuters brochure

Graphic Design

John Lloyd

Posted by James Cartwright,

John Lloyd is one of Britain’s great graphic designers. From his early days at the London College of Printing in the 1960s to his three decades at the helm of LLoyd Northover, he has consistently produced clear, communicative graphic design and branding for a prestigious range of multinational clients including the RSC, John Lewis Partnership, National Rail and BAA. Having recently launched a retrospective website featuring some of the highlights of his design career, we decided to pick his brains and have a look back at an illustrious creative history.

What was going on at the LCP when you studied there?

I was at the London College of Printing as an apprentice lithographic artist from 1960-64 and as a graphic design student from 1965-68. It was an extraordinarily stimulating time to be a design student in London – we were surrounded by a surge of creativity in all the arts. It was a time of unbridled experimentation and great optimism. With every new project, you felt you were breaking new ground, and the LCP was at the centre of it all. My years at the LCP were the most creatively stimulating of my life.

How did it shape you as a designer?

The main focus of the London College of Printing was to serve the printing industry and so the tradition of teaching typography and printing as highly sophisticated arts and crafts underpinned everything. Allied to that, the LCP provided a classic Bauhaus-influenced art school training and, as a result, I was directly influenced by the early twentieth century pioneers of modern graphic design, and it was as a student that I first came across the work of Saul Bass.

I was struck by the simplicity and power of the images he created. His quest for the pure and essential idea has been a source of inspiration ever since. I am a modernist at heart; for me less is definitely much more.

How do you approach a new project?

I always start with an open mind and no preconceptions and I try to get as far away from the computer as possible. Computers can restrict the creative process. Use other media – drawing, painting, collage, photography – to stimulate ideas. Get out of the studio and look around. Try techniques involving randomness and chance. A designer needs to present himself with as many alternative options as possible from which to develop the most effective solution.

Creativity in design involves original thinking applied to solving the client’s problem. It is not about being crazy, wacky or “off the wall” for its own sake – to be effective, a visual identity needs to be distinctive, legible, timeless, identifiable at a glance, and memorable. The best designs achieve these aims through simplicity and clarity of form. It has nothing to do with a designer’s self-expression.

How has the industry changed since you’ve been practicing?

I think there are two key differences. The first is to do with technology. When we started Lloyd Northover in 1975 the Mac was still nine years away (it was invented in 1984). In 1975, graphic design practice was very much a craft-based activity. All our presentation roughs were made by hand – we sketched visuals, mixed paints, laid colour washes and hand-lettered the type. Final specifications were made by marking-up typescripts, casting-off type, and arranging galley proofs on pencil-drawn layouts.

Our finished artwork was made by hand too, using overlays for colour separation, and paste-up of text. The studio was stocked with pens, pencils, brushes, paints, inks, Letraset, and Cow Gum. The Mac quickly swept all this away; now, I’m hard-pressed to find a pencil in a graphic design studio. If we add to this revolution the internet, email and smartphone, there is no doubt that technology has transformed the way we work.

The second key difference is the rise of design management. In 1975, working relationships between client and designer were usually close. Clients tended to respect designers as talented specialists. We were embraced by client organisations, taken into their confidence and treated as partners. Now, there is often someone between the client and the designer – a design manager. As a result of this, design has come to be viewed as a commodity. Bidding and selection procedures have become much more methodological, the designer is kept at arm’s length, and the relationship of trust between client and designer has, in many cases, been eroded.

Career highlight?

One of the high points of my career came shortly after the sad death of Saul Bass in 1996. Herb Yager, Saul’s surviving business partner, decided to look for a sympathetic design business with which to merge the Saul Bass practice in Los Angeles and he chose Lloyd Northover. So, in 1996 I became, with Jim Northover, the inheritor of the design practice of one of America’s greatest graphic designers, the man who had inspired me as a young apprentice 36 years earlier, and who had provided a creative guiding light ever since. That was quite a moment!

Jc

Posted by James Cartwright

James started out as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our two editors. He oversees Printed Pages magazine and content wise has a special interest in graphic design and illustration. He also runs our online shop Company of Parrots and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. Main3

    An old soul such as myself appreciates when modern-day designers and illustrators go out of their way to make something look like it fell out of a cardboard box that hasn’t been opened since 1972. Rob Carmichael’s design studio SEEN is a New York and LA-based bunch of art directors and creatives who together help to create some of the best album artwork around at the moment.

  2. List

    German design studio Hort prides itself on being an “unconventional working environment” and a “place where work and play can be said in the same sentence.” In this video by Analog Mensch Digital, Hort’s much-loved creator Eike Konig talks about their work and ethos whilst rolling paint and printing a poster. The camera wanders about the studio past leaning bikes and big white desks, scrolling up bookcases and dwelling on the Anthony Burrill posters gracing the walls. Eike is always worth listening to, whether he’s musing on the differences between international and German clients, traditional and digital work and the morals of design. He says: “Visual language is a strong language. We have responsibility in the use of this power.”

  3. List

    It seems that Jacob Klein and Nathan Cowen are incapable of turning out a dud project. From their humble beginnings as a meticulously curated stream of stunning imagery to their present guise as multi-faceted design and art direction agency, the Haw-Lin boys just keep on coming up with the goods. This might not seem surprising to devotees of their original Haw-Lin blog, but it’s surprising how often arbiters of style lack substance. Not so for these boys; their fanatical eye for detail goes beyond simple aesthetic curation, extending into a portfolio of capsule collections for fashion brands, editorial shoots for the most erudite magazines and immaculate lookbooks that manage to add depth and pace to publications that can often be painfully bland.

  4. List

    I always think that creating the identity for a design conference is one of the most thankless commissions around – all those attendees ready, willing and able to offer informed and immediate feedback. So when we see it done well it only seems to right to give credit where it’s due, and Build did a fine job for this year’s TypeCon gathering.

  5. List_copy

    In the introduction to his exceptional new Erik Spiekermann monograph, Johannes Erler sums up “Spiekermann in two sentences” by way of this quotation: “I’m totally chaotic. I’m so untogether, my left leg doesn’t even know what my right leg is doing. I need order. I need systems. I don’t really do anything without a design grid.”

  6. List_2

    Their website is a combination of fluorescent colours, textures, media and effects so hectic that you can’t help but surrender yourself to it, but it’d be foolish to assume The Royal Studio’s design work is as chaotic as it appears. Behind the madness is a method which elevates their vibrant, contemporary design beyond the realms of trendy and into something actually very interesting, whether it’s an Honest Manifesto which claims that “everyone loves titles and captions” but they “don’t give a fuck about content” (repeated to fill) or a very well-executed poster advertising the studio’s 15-day tour around cities including Zagreb, Ljubljana, Dijon and Porto. The fact remains that Portugal-based Royal Studio are taking conventional graphic design and turning it on its head to see what happens, and we’re really enjoying admiring the results.

  7. List

    Of all the design disciplines, typography is almost certainly the least sexy. But Dan Rhatigan is one of the people who is able to talk about type in an engaging, and very human way. Earlier this year the Monotype type director worked with Grey London on Ryman Eco, described as “the world’s most beautiful sustainable font,” as it uses 33% less ink than the likes of Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia and Verdana.

  8. Tumblr_n4iq1a8swj1qdf776o1_1280

    Anyone you know a downright sourpuss? Treat ‘em to a link to work by Hungarian designer Anna Kövecses. Here at It’s Nice That we give high praise to work that is candy-coloured and cute – as long as it never falls under the tasselled umbrella of “twee.” Anna’s work is a perfect example of that as beneath the childish exterior lies a wealth of design knowledge and style.

  9. List

    In the year-and-a-half since we first featured Belgian designer Vincent Vrints on the site his fortunes have risen with the quality of his work. We were always enamoured with his canny ability to create aesthetically astounding imagery and merge it with equally appealing layouts, but he’s refined his process and embraced some new digital techniques resulting in a portfolio that floats between the retro and the ultra futuristic.

  10. Main8

    Google Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums and almost every book cover design that appears either depicts someone hitchhiking or it has the aesthetic of a grotty travel diary of someone who’s been “finding themselves” along a motorway for a month or two too long. Kerouac’s novels don’t even need covers, right? They’re stand-alone pieces of literary genius. Big applause is needed then for Copenhagen designer Torsten Lindsø Andersen who has taken the rulebook of second-rate Kerouac book design and thrown it out the train window on to the track where it belongs. These ambient, sterile designs he’s proposed for the author’s back catalogue are the perfect fit to the words within: weird, unpredictable, drunk and unique.

  11. List

    I am a big believer that every magazine should be able to sum up what it does in a few words. New title The-Art-Form does just that with the pithy statement that it’s “a limited edition publication about art and artists.” Issue one features six artists – Ian Davenport, Peter Liversidge, Rana Begum, Dan Baldwin, Michael Reisch and Paul Insect – and each has been asked 13 questions ranging from why they make art to their favourite place. The answers vary not only in tone and subject matter (as you’d expect) but also in form, so while Ian has provided handwritten answers, Michael, Dan and Rana have created paintings, drawings and sketches in response to the questionnaire.

  12. List

    Over the last few weeks we have been exploring how Shillington College are revolutionising design education through their own model of practically-focused graphic design tuition. We talked to the teachers about how they put together this new kind of course and to those employers who have found the college to be an invaluable resource of young design talent. To round off this series of features, we went along to the London Graduation Show a few weeks ago to chat to some of the students about their experiences, so rather than hear it from us, best hit play and hear it straight from them…

  13. List

    It’s been a couple of years since we headed over to Sweden to celebrate the work of Stockholm studio Research and Development but in that time art directors Daniel Olsson and Jonas Topooco have kept the great work coming. They’re a versatile pair who pride themselves on working closely with their clients to produce design work that plays to their strengths without losing sight of the brief in a blaze of self-indulgence. Anyone who can make a publication for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency look this interesting is always going to get in our good books.