The Company of Artists

Fresh from his honour at the D&AD 50th celebration last week, editorial design legend Derek Birdsall has worked on lovely-looking new book The Company of Artists.


Birdsall, who was awarded a 50th anniversary honourary D&AD President’s Award, has created the cover and designs for Royal Academy of Arts chief executive Charles Saumarez Smith’s new tome.

The book tells the story of the RA’s foundation in 1768, which stemmed from an almighty row among members of predecessor the Society of Artists.

Earlom, after Brandoin, The RA Exhibition 1771
Earlom, after Brandoin, The RA Exhibition 1771

Apparently not even the society’s ‘jolly president’ could ‘persuade the disputants to lay aside their mutual bickerings, and drown their heartburnings in bumpers of wine.’

The result, as Saumarez Smith outlines, was the RA, which was set up with the support of monarch George III.

Zoffany, The Portraits of the Academicians
Zoffany, The Portraits of the Academicians

The Company of Artists, by Charles Saumarez Smith with design by Derek Birdsall, is published by Modern Art Press on 15 October, priced at £25.

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