If you’ve been catching the London Underground recently you will have spotted Rob Bailey’s striking illustrations for Transport for London. Rob’s vivid drawings balance informative illustration with visually pleasing design, advising commuters and tourists day to day.
Briefed by M&C Saatchi, the project “ran for almost two years between November 2014 and October 2016,” before they were unleashed underground. Working closely with M&C Saatchi’s art director Gary Monaghan and head of art Grant Parker, the project was one of constant conversation in order to create over 40 posters.
“Gary would send me sketches and I’d translate them into my style,” Rob tells It’s Nice That. “I’d send them back to him and we’d go back and forth from there. Once the illustration was done, Gary would place the type.” The illustrator explains that it wasn’t a process of experimentation, he succinctly translated initial sketches into finished pieces. “To be honest, it was rare that the ideas strayed too much from the original sketches, Gary’s drawings are really concise and to the point, he understood really well what would work in my reductive style and what wouldn’t, making my job easier.” This direct approach was one the illustrator appreciated. “While having a very prescriptive brief can often be frustrating or dull, when the time scales are short and there’s such a large amount of work to be finished it’s actually a blessing.”
Not a Londoner himself, Rob wasn’t faced with his own work while travelling. “I didn’t have to see them everyday, I would have hated that. All my friends that do live in London certainly did enough hating of them in place though, I would regularly get texts saying they were sick of them, or sick of me, it’s good to have supportive friends.”
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.