Thursday, 18 November 2010

Barney Bubbles // Paul Gorman

Barney Bubbles is the the enigma behind many a classic album cover, and a man who I was intrigued to learn more about in our recent lecture by Paul Gorman, a Journalist and Author of the book "Reasons to Be Cheerful: The Life and Times of Barney Bubbles".

I know of the work of Barney Bubbles (or Colin Fulcher as his mother once knew him) having been advised to look into him last year for a project. However, I evidently didn't know all there is to know. Paul took us through not only his work but also the story of his life. The story of a depressive, very private, troubled man whose legacy has almost been lost through his own penchant for pseudonyms and his wish to not become a known name. However it has somewhat become Paul's mission to resurrect his work and bring Barney Bubbles to a whole new audience.

Barney began his 'career' whilst at Twickenham College of Art where he designed posters for numerous bands including an early Rolling Stones. The name Barney Bubbles comes from his practice of creating ink projection shows as a backdrop for live bands. He termed these 'Barney Bubbles Light Show' (having already been going by the name Barney for some time) and it just seemed to stick. He left college and proceeded to work for Michael Tucker + Associates, London and later The Conran Group working for such brands as Pirelli, Strongbow and Habitat. When he left Conran he went into business with two colleagues and began his association with designing music sleeves.

It was in the early 70's when his rich association with Hawkwind began. Designing sleeves for various albums and creating backdrops and props for their live shows. He designed for them them right upto 1977 when he joined Stiff Records.

It was then and right up 1981/2 where, I believe, he created his best work. He created sleeves, most famously, for Elvis Costello, The Damned and Ian Dury. He was working freelance aswell and created numerous works under various pseudonyms, many of which Paul Gorman believes will never be accredited to him. His work through this period is some of my favourite of his. What is termed as his 'signature style' was evident at this time in work such as the 'Armed Forces' cover below and the 'This Years Model' sleeve at the top. I love his use of deliberate mistakes such as the off-register on 'This Years Model' revealing the printers marks (a technique 'borrowed' by Peter Saville for New Order's 'Blue Monday').

Paul talked about Barneys life with the gusto of a man obviously deeply involved in his subject. His quest to get Barneys name where it should be is helped by the fact that he is already a bit of a 'designers designer' with luminaries such as Peter Saville and Malcolm Garrett already signed up to the Barney Bubbles fan list. This was a totally inspiring lecture for me as some of the work on show I really appreciate and in particular "This Years Model' which I am totally struck on. What a fantastic piece of playful, direct, simple design/photography. Wondrous.

I myself am signed up on the ever growing list of inspired fans.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A Love Story In An Absolut World

We were recently visited at work by a lovely lady from Absolut Vodka as part of a promotional push for the brand. Whilst there she mentioned some of the advertising that Absolut are famous for. She also mentioned a short film created for them by Spike Jonze. Being an interested admirer of his work I thought I should check it out.

"I'm Here" is a robot love story based on 'The Giving Tree' by Shel Silverstein. In a world co-inhabited by robots and humans this is a humorous yet at times saddening depiction of an unforgiving love for another, regardless of situation.

Brilliantly shot and a well told story this is well worth the watch. And not only is the film great the website is special in it's own right. A series of full screen videos allow you to walk into the cinema and take your seat for the latest presentation. An experience that really adds to the film. Check it out.


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Teal Triggs

I was privileged enough recently to be in the audience for Teal Triggs' Fanzines: A DIY Revolution lecture. I have only recently heard of Teal but she proved to be a very interesting speaker. As somewhat of an authority on the art of fanzines she gave us an insightful talk on what it is to be a fanzine creator, the origins of the 'zine' and some of the best examples from over the years.

"What is a fanzine?' was the first question she posed upon us. And with a mixed response she answered it herself (with a little help);
"...little publications filled with rantings of high weirdness and exploding with chaotic design." [Stephen Duncombe 1997]

And this was precisely what she preceded to show us. We took a leap through history from the early 1960s and early zine culture, through the Punk era and the boom of zine 'manufacture' that coincided with the angered politics of the time, right up to rave culture publications in the 90's. What was particularly insightful to hear was the association with Manchester/Northwest and the zine scene. I am aware of the culture I am living in and the history that surrounds me and so was aware of the certain element of zine culture that exited/exists here in Manchester. What was nice about it though was the fondness with which Teal spoke about some of her favorite zines, all from in and around the Northwest.

As she left us she posed another question. An obviously poignant one to her. In the current times of rapid knowledge and the dominance of the internet "Are zines still relative? Is there still a revolution going on?"


Busy Busy

Yes, yes its been a while. I have an ever growing list of things I keep meaning to blog about but just struggle to find the time. However tonight is the time. A few updates over the next couple of hours should get me back on track. Bear with me.

Just a little note, I am now on twitter if anyone would care to follow me. Or secondly if anyone has come here from my twitter then you may care to follow this blog aswell. If you'd be so kind. Links on the right.