2003. The year everything turned upside down. Life can be hard, don’t you think? Sometimes even the simplest of tasks seems a struggle, when all you wished for was a hint of flavour to spice up your day and keep you on your toes. He used to constantly defy me, and there I was thinking he was a loyal friend. Sitting there, oozing with maliciousness and deliciousness, oh how he loved to torment me, the saucy little tease. I could see right through his lustrous chamber. Unbearable. He left me with no choice. So I shook him. Slapped him. Threw him around. This was no place for impatience. Minutes of my life were seeping away as I ravenously attempted to conquer him in a bloody battle. No matter how much I persevered or handled the disheartening situation in a calm yet determined manner, there he remained, gliding contentedly from side to side. Wasting my time. Fine, I’ll move on.
But I failed to neglect him long. I knew he’d flow spitefully back into my bland life. He was irresistible. But something was different. I could taste an explosion of optimistic flavours. Hope. 2003, the birth of Mr Heinz Top Down Tomato Ketchup bottle. Forget our past Mr Ketchup, I can see you’ve changed. I genuinely relish your intrusion into my flavourless life.
Well, Happy Birthday Tom Eckersley! While years have passed, the exhibition remains fresh and lively in its buoyancy. Master of the Poster truly is a celebration of Eckersley’s legacy and influence on the world of graphics. With around 40 posters from the 1940s to the 1980s recognising Eckersley’s unique approach to organisations such as London Transport and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, it is obvious that Eckersley successfully put his name on the map and achieved a recognisable style.
Being the man to establish the Graphic Design course here at London College of Communication, what better place to drape his creations and accomplishments than across our grateful walls, allowing LCC’ers to marvel in its glory on a daily basis and feel inspired and reminded that it is possible to become a successful artist. Different themes are sectioned and separated, using the cosy space effectively. However, an exhibition space which also operates as a common corridor is not entirely ideal as work tends to go by unnoticed leaving nothing but rejection.
I will be honest, I apologise for any offence; when I learnt of the somewhat hyperbolic title, Master of the Poster, I assumed it must be a slightly distorted description! I mean, it is probably most certainly my blinding arrogance but how can someone be the ‘master’ and yet, studying Illustration here at LCC, I have not really heard much mention of him until now. Nonetheless, I stand corrected as Eckersley’s work proves immediately effective. Bold, bright and with the occasional touch of humour. Perhaps I’m not meant to find the images entertaining, but one cannot help but react with a little chuckle at some of the compositions. Let me give you an example; the warning that long hair is dangerous when using machinery; that is admittedly quite an unusual choice of imagery. But perhaps such was the hairstyle fashion in those days!
Being a bit of a dazed individual, I tend to remain rather oblivious to my surroundings, particularly while dragging myself around via public transport, and therefore I believe it is a difficult task to catch a person’s eye with a modest poster. While one half of London is half asleep and staring into nothingness, the other half is frantically attempting to avoid awkward eye contact with the individual pressed up against him and therefore in desperate need of a bold, bright, multi layered visual message to focus upon. Eckersley proves to have kindly provided this service as well as raising public awareness towards issues such as the prevention of accidents and awareness of existing charities and organisations. A sharp, complex message becomes simple and direct as Eckersley extenuates outlines and incorporates crisp geometrical shapes. Uncomplicated, yet effective. It is a minimal approach to graphics, conceptualising modern graphic design.
So, an exciting exhibition for us at LCC and I’m sure amidst these wonderful white walls he will remain the irrefutable master of poster.