• 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. List-martin-groch-its-nice-thatera-obalka-2-final-na-web

    “A natural talent for combining type, image and abstract forms” is how we described Slovakian designer Martin Groch when we first posted about him. We stand by that, and now his talents are being put to good use under the discerning eye of Eike König at Hort, where Martin’s currently interning. During his time there he’s worked with the team on some great graphics and illustrations for Read magazine, which suit his blocky, slick style perfectly. Elsewhere in his portfolio we’ve been admiring some great cover designs for architecture magazine ERA21, and some beautiful posters for a Czech documentary film festival. “The whole concept is about confrontation between sci-fi concepts and our present reality,” Martin explains. It seems fitting for his style, which manages to articulate normal things in a disorientating, bold and futuristic style.

  2. Post-husler_rose-istnicethat-list

    London studio POST– has built an admirable reputation for clean, considered design work for clients across the world. Perusing their portfolio recently we came across this pleasing work for Husler & Rose, an online boutique that sells furniture, homeware and other bits and pieces. Too often we see identities for these kinds of shops that tick off cliched checklists ripped from Instagram mood boards but I feel the POST– team has navigated these pitfalls with skill and style. Inspired by “Herbert Bayer’s Bauhaus posters and the old jazz record sleeve designs of Duke Ellington,” the designers have developed a relevant look and feel that works across both print and digital collateral and breathes a little life into a couple of quite standard conventions.

  3. List-muir-mcneil-its-nice-that-muir-mcneil-its-nice-that-lcc_type_design_1200

    It’s Summer Shows-time again, and so we’re bracing ourselves for another slew of smart identity projects to go with them. Today, we present to you the work of MuirMcNeil, which has created the identity for the show at London College of Communication, where the duo teach. MuirMcNeil is comprised of Hamish Muir, lead tutor of BA Graphic and Media Design and Paul McNeil, course leader for MA Contemporary Typographic Media. Naturally, it’s a very typographic identity, and “confronts traditional letterform” according to LCC.

  4. Tomaslaar-itsnicethat-main

    Nice body of work here from Dutch design student Tomas Laar, who has a pleasing understanding of typography and the fun there is to be had in publication design. Even though he’s still studying he’s been very busy immersing himself in the design world, taking part in Hort’s raucous After School Club and a number of different group shows and workshops. What I like about his work is that he’s not afraid to mess around a bit, and the more professional journals he’s put together and professionally bound are contrasted by mini-projects that see him making posters in homage to designers he admires and pasting them up on walls around The Hague. Even his typography is light-hearted, and shows how unafraid he is to get stuck in with different materials and processes in order to get the best result. He’s also got an absolute ripper of a blog.

  5. Spd-newyork-itsnicethat-list2

    Call me a massive magazine nerd if you must but I really enjoy the conversation about what makes a great cover. Is there a science to it as Tyler Brûlé maintains? Does it have to be meticulously planned or can it be the simple execution of gut instinct? Where is that fine line between bold and daring on the one hand, and obtuse and gimmicky on the other? Anyway yesterday two “best cover” shortlists were unveiled which gives us a glimpse into what two leading industry bodies think (The Society of Publication Designers and The Professional Publishers Association).

  6. Flatland-itsnicethat-list

    “We hear a lot about the death of print and the dominance of digital,” begins Epilogue’s Kickstarter pitch video for a new version of Edwin Abbott’s Flatland, “but it’s having access to either that makes this an exciting time. The challenge is, how do you make something that is interesting and meaningful with both?”

  7. Jaimezuverza-itsnicethat-main

    If you ever want to read a truly inspiring interview with one of the coolest designers out there, look no further than this one with Jaime Zuverza we ran on the site back in 2013. In it Jaime said: “Lately I have been inspired by the strange things the body and mind create. I think those things must be welcomed in a friendly manner. The body produces blood, tears, boogers, vomit, caca, gas, wax, urine, spit, odours, etc. The mind produces dreams, hallucinations, delusions, paranoid associations, psychic vibes, phobias, visions. All of these things are usually kept hidden but they play a big part in people’s daily lives.”

  8. Stosh-itsnicethat-list-2

    Stosh is the leading case in my new argument (actually my only case, but that’s neither here nor there) that all studios formed of two or more people should be named by combining those two names together. Freelance graphic designers Stephanie Cuérel and Josh Schaub (Stosh!) have been collaborating since 2010 and judging by their website – a trichotomy of bold design made by one, the other or both of them, with the odd GIF thrown in for good measure – it was a good decision.

  9. New-dps-itsnicethat-list

    It probably won’t be of much interest to you, but I wrote my dissertation on the intersection between digital platforms and physical publishing and the interesting ways people are finding to merge the two. For me it was fascinating, for some of you it’s probably exceptionally tedious. But for those of you with a similarly perverse interest in these curiously anachronistic forms of publishing there’s an interesting online archive that brings them all together. P-DPA (the Post-Digital Publishing Archive) is an impressive resource created by Silvio Lorusso dedicated to documenting projects at the forefront of modern publishing. It’s far from comprehensive, but the user-generated archive offers up some exciting examples of progressive publishing. I could go on, but I’ve probably already bored some of you to tears.

  10. Spin-itsnicethatlistfull_screen_simon_pengelly_2

    When graphic designers take on furniture designers, their broadening solutions can sometimes feel formulaic – all wholesome browns and chatter about “craft.” That’s why it’s so refreshing to see Spin’s work for British furniture designer Simon Pengelly. “The idea for Simon’s identity came from a visit to his workshop and noticing the lovely graphic stripes on the edge of the plywood used on one of his chairs,” says Spin. “The various iterations of the marque reflect different thicknesses.” Despite the fact, as Spin puts, it, Simon’s design approach “brings together a blend of organic minimalism and a distinctive feel for natural materials,” the identity focusses on the minimalism and shuns the organic, taking on a bold, direct and a very brave aesthetic.

  11. Anagrama-itsnicethat-list

    Mexican design studio Anagrama has turned its focus to one of its own this time around, creating a solid brand identity and new interior for a “cantina” called Botanero Moritas. Anagrama had the restaurant’s rich brand history – stretching all the way back to 1939 – to wrangle with, and chose to channel as much of its tradition and history into the new identity as possible while still striking a chord with contemporary branding. It went with a simple, bold logo on dark grainy backgrounds for much of the printed collateral including business cards, postcards and packaging, employing a rainbow foil to jazz it up where necessary, while the variety of typefaces used on menus and signage hints at the diversity of old and new references.

  12. Wife_web_backdrme-itsnicethat.list

    It’s always such a joy when great music and great graphics combine, as we explored recently in our Art + Music series. So when we found out that Manchester agency DR.ME was behind the sleeves for one of our all-time favourite record labels, Tri Angle, it was a happy day indeed. “Happy,” however, is perhaps not so apt for describing the sleeves themselves – or indeed the music of Tri Angle’s roster – characterised by a dark, brooding, experimental sound. Some dub it witch house, others drag, but by any name, it’s downright weird and often rather brilliant. But enough gushing about these strange, cracked-out sounds, let’s talk about the sleeves.

  13. Graphilately-itsnicethat-list

    For some years now stamp collecting has been relegated from the status of a widespread and admirable pastime to a somewhat nerdy pursuit, and this is a perception that Blair Thomson, creative director of design studio Believe In, is keen to shake off. Having had a passion for stamps instilled in him at a young age, Blair is the designer behind Graphilately, an Instagram account dedicated to his own beautifully curated, and very well photographed collection, which celebrates stamps as a form of graphic art in their own right.