First Flight

Instagram was a bit of a time machine for me today. I follow a great printmaker called Stephen Jeffrey (@stephenjeffrey_art). A first draft for one of his super planes came onscreen. I nearly dropped my Ginger Biscuit!

British Eagle artwork

An early working of a design by Stephen Jeffrey

Stephen has a nostalgic love of British Eagle Airlines and had flown with them many times. We messaged each other to share the connection as my step-father was their Sales Director in 1960s. The airline’s demise was long ago now. OK but what of the time machine you ask?

Gary aged 12.

Me. 12 years old

At that age The Beatles were everything to me. The music, the fun, the energy, their friendship, the hair (*cough). My whole world. Ron, my parent since I was 4 years old as my Mum remarried, had arranged for The Beatles to fly with British Eagle for the publicity. He asked me to paint ‘Beatles on’ above the printed branding on their flight bag. My first commission! And for The Beatles! I was so excited. Now I willingly admit I hardly made a perfect job of it (it’s a mess. That kerning *ugh!) but it took me closer to my idols and that was all that mattered. Now I put this gently as Ron passed away last year but he was, to say the least, a very difficult man. He would not take me to the airport to see and maybe even meet them. It broke my heart. I am sure I’ll soon get over it if I get enough counselling. What I did get was a B/W photograph. All Ron’s airline memorabilia went to auction this year, I lost my copy and I was never to see the photograph again. But Stephen’s research for his artwork produced this. And it’s in colour too!

The Fabs with my bag.

I got to Googling and found another photo and a splash in The Daily Mail here. It’s mostly about the flight attendant’s memorabilia sale but there is the bag as never seen since. And the Mail in its hyperbolic manner refer to it as a ‘Special commission’. I guess it was. My first and, of course, a freebie! I wish I could have seen the boys with it.

Beatles on British Airways

Later , with arrival of Revolver the music yet again thrilled me so much I didn’t know where to put myself but the sleeve design by Klaus Voorman was the visual signal/trigger that something I loved was just possibly in reach of my limited abilities if I only dropped my best subjects and went to Art School . . .

Design by Klaus Voorman

Galileo & Mick Brownfield

A lunar eclipse occurs when Sun, Earth and Moon are in a perfect alignment, as we all learnt at school . . .

Well three things came together recently and there is some fugitive sendipity, some tangential connection between them so I thought I would take out my iQuill and see if I can resolve them.

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The Two Sandies

When you really care about something you want to get it right. Right? And I do care about Heroines & Harridans. The shared relish and enthusiasm for great women in history has been a secret pleasure of Sandi Toksvig and illustrator Sandy Nightingale since they first worked together on The Travels of Lady ‘Bulldog’ Burton a few years ago. 

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Don DeLillo

The following post was commissioned by Picador as a part of their 40 year anniversary. You will no-doubt know I was their long-standing art director so I cut the introduction. Picador asked me to recount the process of this specific jacket design.

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Almost at the end of two weeks of a fabulous Olympic Games. There is wall-to-wall coverage so I’ll not add too much to the Olympic noise.

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Gabriel García Márquez

A very sad message landed on Sunday’s doorstep. “The Nobel prizewinning author Gabriel García Márquez is suffering from senile dementia and can no longer write, his brother has revealed.”

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Art Students, Plymouth 2012

Regular readers may recall I visited Plymouth University as an Associate Lecturer last year. A two week stint running a Type & Layout workshop with First Year Illustration. There were 45 in the group and it was busy, fun and the Uni has a good feel to it. So I was pleased when Ashley Potter asked me back this year. “O, just one thing, Gary. There are 69 students this time” Muttering darkly under my breath I cheerily assured my Course Leader that would be no problem. Half as many again? Oo, er.

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