Back in 1954, Eckersley set up the UK’s very first undergraduate graphic design course at London College of Printing (LCP), now known as London College of Communication.
A show, Tom Eckersley: Master of the Poster, opening at the college in January will celebrate 100 years since Eckersley’s birth, displaying more than 40 posters drawn from the University of the Arts London’s dedicated Eckersley archive.
The works will be displayed alongside reflections on the life and career of Eckersley from those who knew and worked with him, including Alan Fletcher and Abram Games.
Fletcher, in Tom Eckersley: His Graphic Work, by The London Institute, remarked, ‘When I was a student in the very early 50s, I used to travel back and forth from Shepherd’s Bush to Holborn by underground. My knowledge of design was triangular: bounded by what I was taught and learnt at college, looking in the school library at Gebrauchsgrafik, and the posters I saw on the tube – mainly those of Tom Eckersley.
‘I immediately fell under the influence of this maestro who would take two disparate images and turn them into a third. Magic!’
Dr Paul Rennie, subject leader of context at Central Saint Martins describes Eckersley as ‘instrumental…in conceptualising modern graphic design as a professional practice of communication distinct from commercial art.’
Throughout the 1930s, Eckersley created posted for London Transport, Shell and the Post Office with his colleague Eric Lombers.
He worked as a cartographer for the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, and was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his services to poster design in 1948.
His most famous work includes designs for London Transport, the United Nations, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the Worldwide Wildlife Fund and London College of Printing, which he joined in 1954, remaining as head of graphic design at the college until 1977.
The exhibition will show work from the 1940s through to the 1980s.
Tom Eckersley: Master of the Poster runs from 11 – 29 January 2014 at London College of Communication, Elephant & Castle SE1