When asked to write this some time back, my instinct was to highlight the inspiration of my school and college tutors. Since then, I’ve watched other contributors select all manner of wonderful things. By comparison, my inspiration felt almost lame and self-indulgent.
However, I was nagged by the idea that the older you get, the more you appreciate the inspiration that people provide rather than the objects they create.
And then I came across Ruth Artmonsky’s book on the collaborative design partnership Lewitt-Him, from Brian Webb’s wonderful series on design. On page 34 is a wartime poster, featuring lettering with little boots on it. On seeing it I recalled my first project at Leicester Polytechnic, set by co-founder George Him, which was to design a satirical magazine masthead called ‘Lark’. ‘Try some lettering with silly feet,’ boomed George in response to my first ideas. Imagine my surprise today to see that George was steering me in the same direction he himself had travelled, 33 years earlier, in 1942.
So today, roughly another 33 years later, it’s time I wrote this: John Nellist, Michael Collinson, Tony Richards and the late George Him, thank you so much for encouraging me to take up a pretty much unknown career called graphic design, and for a working life that’s been so much fun.