A few months ago, while rifling through some boxes outside a junk shop, I stumbled upon an art catalogue from 1968. It included, among others, the early work of Justin Knowles.
Knowles was an abstract painter and sculptor with an interesting life story. He was a recognised member of the art scene with a string of high-profile exhibitions and commissions. This success, though, was thrown into turmoil in 1973 when his uninsured studio caught fire destroying most of his work. He did not exhibit again until 1997.
I had the pleasure of working with him in his latter years. He was a complex character (stubborn, yet charming at the same time) so designing his publications and print really challenged me. However, I have no doubt that his obsessive creativity helped to develop me as a designer and that the anecdotes from his silent period educated me as a person.
Sadly, Knowles passed away in February 2004. One of his prints sits above my fireplace and a small sculpture nestles in among the books and ephemera on my studio shelves. As can so easily happen, their prominence in my thoughts had begun to fade. This recent find was a welcome reminder of an inspiring man with a courageous story.