The Penrose Annual of 1956 contains a significant article discussing the role printing and graphic design play (other than for stamps) in promoting the services of the British Postal system. The public relations department of the Post Office commissioned a number of talented designers including Eckersley, Lewitt-Him, Henrion, Reiss and many more the results of which “have been some bright and pleasant decorations for dull monochromatic post offices as dreary as all but the most modern post offices themselves”.
Here is a selection of images from the article, written by Misha Black O.B.E.
James Fitton, R.A, British Post Office
Paul Piech was an important mid 20th century graphic artist who is best known for the Lino prints, posters and books from his private press set up in 1959, the “Taurus Press” in the U.K.
In the Penrose Annual of 1976 is a beautifully illustrated, in depth article on the private press of Paul Piech written by Kenneth Hardacre. Hardacre writes:
“His books broke all the rules of setting, spacing and layout. They gave the impression of having been printed on any paper that came to hand…Their typefaces were often unusual and hardly ever suited to their texts. The very ink on the paper seems restless. Piech’s books make you feel uncomfortable and that is why they exist – their aim is to disturb. They all have a power that is to be found above all in the profusion of linocuts and woodcuts that pour through their pages. Paul Piech expresses his pity with a knife. He handles his medium with compelling force, until the lino itself seems to cry out, expressing his horror at man’s inhumanity to man”
(For the purposes of this Penrose article the images were screen printed onto brown, textured card – but most posters you will see by Piech have a white background – and he often used bright bold colours in his posters)
Paul Piech, “Peter Cooper” Poster (584 x 915mm)
The techniques used by Piech give an immediacy and urgency to his work, which suits the often political message of it. Harcare writes:
“Piech rarely uses type in his posters, their message lies as much in the urgency of the hand cut lettering as in the text itself – an urgency demonstrated in and even strengthened by the occasional mis-spellings. For Piech cuts his lettering very quickly, he blocks in areas, plans the lines, and counts off the characters; but there is no preliminary design of the letter shapes. He never cuts around a drawn letter – he creates the letter in the act of cutting. Thus his letters are alive as the faces he cuts.”