• 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. Quimmarin-posters-int-list

    Barcelona-based designer and art director Quim Marin has a strong visual sensibility and a prolific work-rate if scrolling through his site is anything to go by. There’s a load of impressive poster and other print design on there, with particularly effective use of some trendy tropes which can often feel stale in less talented hands. “In such a visually polluted environment I try to come up with fresh and memorable designs with a clear aim at essential beauty and equilibrium that, at the same time, will ensure communicative effectiveness,“ Quim says by way of a mission statement, and it’s hard to sum up his work better than that.

  2. Chevalvert-int-list-2

    You wade into Chevalvert’s portfolio rubbing your hands across your eyes, unsure of what you’ve stumbled across. The Paris-based studio was founded in 2007 by Patrick Paleta and Stéphane Buellet and describes itself as being based on an “open, multidisciplinary approach,” which might go some way to explaining why it feels like a cave laden with treasures. So many treasures.

  3. Fantastic-man-list

    Fantastic Man magazine has been redesigned, as shown in its teaser image of its tenth anniversary issue. The magazine’s new issue cover star JW Anderson has shown the new cover on Instagram, which reveals a new design seeing the masthead run vertically and horizontally, instead of its previous preluder horizontal configuration. The cover image also runs to both sides, moving away from its previous white-edged format. We’re excited to see what changes might have been made to the inside of the mag…

  4. Dwp-bikestock-int-list

    This morning I had a puncture that I couldn’t fix and had to get the train to work, so it feels timely to be writing about Bikestock, a range of vending machines full of cycling essentials that can be found all over New York and Boston. The concept is a simple one; inner tubes, spanners, tyre levers tyres and any number of other little bits and pieces that make your wheels turn smoothly are boshed into a vending machine so you can grab them on the go and, more importantly, at any time of day!

  5. List

    Joost Bos is a recent graduate from the Academie Minerva Groningen in The Netherlands where he’s spent three years studying for his bachelor’s degree. Like many of his Dutch counterparts he’s a dab hand with typography both traditional and experimental and has a plethora of printed pieces in his portfolio. This one, Sequence 1, is an exhibition catalogue for a show of artist books at Joost’s alma mater, which perfectly demonstrates his design sensibilities. Immaculately set type is interspersed with hand-drawn elements and bright colours bring intrigue to an otherwise monochrome publication. Like what you’re seeing? He’s available for freelance work right now!

  6. Sam-coldy-penguin-int-list

    Is it just me or is Penguin killing it at the moment? The publishing house only recently celebrated its 80th birthday by launching a range of its classic titles for 80p each, accompanied by a slick website and a poster campaign which has reached even the furthest corners of London’s transport system. And right now, they’re in the midst of a new campaign called On the Page which celebrates women authors and characters in literary masterpieces.

  7. Karansingh-mop-int-list

    The glorious coming together of pattern, shape and colour makes for a joyous experience and that’s why print designers are held in such high regard. Last week we commissioned Animade to turn three eye-poppingly good Pucci x Orlebar Brown patterns into trippy GIFs, this week we’re turning our attention to profiling creatives we believe are among the best around when it comes to working in this area. We are proud to present these #mastersofprint.

  8. Gerard-marin-int-list

    There’s something of a trend going around at the moment for identities using 3D logo-marks, and with this one by Gerard Marin we can see why. Barcelona-based designer Gerard developed the branding, stationery and corporate materials for interior designer and visual merchandiser Neus Ortiz. Recognisability and malleability were at the forefront of his mind for this project, and the flexible “N,” which changes according to its application, prove a neat solution to both. His is an unfussy aesthetic which lends itself perfectly to branding projects – here’s hoping more make their way to him very soon.

  9. Nike-logo

    There’s a moment in this film where Michael Bierut comes over all Hayley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense as he declares: “ I can see things in typefaces that normal people can’t.” It’s part of his discussion about how “design can be a lonely thing” and that as you immerse yourself in that world “you’re actually making yourself less normal than regular people.” Filmed at Design Indaba in South Africa last month, this interesting short film moves onto to look at logos and why designers are so interested in them. Using famous examples like the Nike swoosh and the Target, um, target, Michael explains his theory that we’re drawn to them because they’re primitive and yet we invest them with so much meaning. “A lot of what we see when we’re looking at the logo isn’t really happening in the logo; it happens in our own mind,” he explains.

  10. Emilyoberman-snl-int-hero

    One of the undoubted highlights of this year’s Design Indaba conference in Cape Town was hearing Pentagram partner Emily Oberman detail her long-running work on Saturday Night Live. Emily has worked with the programme for 20 years, creating three separate versions of its identity, various title sequences and even spoof adverts to run in the breaks (like this). Now Emily has teamed up with writer Alison Castle to produce Saturday Night Live: The Book, a 500-page paean to the show which coincides with its 40th anniversary this autumn.

  11. Studio-lin-stampa-int-list

    Sometimes a dead simple idea is all you need to create something really striking. In the case of Studio Lin’s branding of Stampa that simple idea was a rolled up poster. Stampa specialise in limited edition prints produced by some of the best illustrators around – shipped direct to your door. How do they do this? By rolling them up in a poster tube. So what does their logo look like? A pair of rolled-up prints joined at their edges to form an S. Studio Lin also commissioned an entire custom typeface for the brand, but for me it’s that swirling blue S that hits the nail on the head every time. Simple!

  12. Ines-cox-int-list

    Scrolling through what feels like an endless array of projects, it’s difficult to believe that Ines Cox only founded her studio last year. Since parting ways with former partner Lauren Grusenmeyer, co-founder of five-year endeavour Cox & Grusenmeyer, Ines has branched out on her own to establish an eponymous practice based in Antwerp. While she still includes much of her old work with Lauren in her portfolio, her new work demonstrates an exciting and playful approach to typography and innovative poster design.

  13. Dot-dash-flatpack-int-list

    Film festivals and great graphic design go together like Powell and Pressburger; as proven by the identity for Iceland’s Stockfish Film Festival, and Dot Dash’s designs for Flatpack Film Festival in Birmingham.