Reasons To Be Cheerful, part 2

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Four Hawkwind badges and a Nik Turner badge based on designs by Barney Bubbles. From the Coulthart archives.

Readers who’ve been waiting for Reasons To Be Cheerful, Paul Gorman‘s landmark study of the life and work of artist and designer Barney Bubbles, may like to know that Paul was in touch today with the suggestion that some pages of the book be previewed here closer to the release date on November 7th. I’d be more than happy for that, of course, so thought I’d mention it now in order to whet the appetite. As mentioned earlier, the book is published by Adelita and its launch will be accompanied by an exhibition at London Print Studio opening on October 23rd. Watch, as the saying goes, this space.

loveyourblog.jpgAlso this week, Yvonne at Nemeton picked { feuilleton } as one of her nominations for the I Love Your Blog award. While I’m going to sidestep the difficult choice of having to pass the award on (which would require nominating a new group of people) I can at least add Nemeton—described as “musings on philosophy, politics, mysticism, geeky stuff, literature, news and ideas”—to the blogroll. Thanks Yvonne!

Previously on { feuilleton }
Arte y pico award
Reasons To Be Cheerful: the Barney Bubbles revival
Barney Bubbles: artist and designer

Barney Bubbles: artist and designer

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Image-heavy post! Please be patient.

Four designs for three bands, all by the same designer, the versatile and brilliant Barney Bubbles. A recent reference over at Ace Jet 170 to the sleeve for In Search of Space by Hawkwind made me realise that Barney Bubbles receives little posthumous attention outside the histories of his former employers. Since he was a major influence on my career I thought it time to give him at least part of the appraisal he deserves. His work has grown in relevance to my own even though I stopped working for Hawkwind myself in 1985, not least because I’ve made a similar transition away from derivative space art towards pure design. Barney Bubbles was equally adept at design as he was at illustration, unlike contemporaries in the album cover field such as Roger Dean (mainly an illustrator although he did create lettering designs) and Hipgnosis (who were more designers and photographers who drafted in illustrators when required).

Colin Fulcher became Barney Bubbles sometime in the late sixties, probably when he was working either part-time or full-time with the underground magazines such as Oz and later Friends/Frendz. He enjoyed pseudonyms and was still using them in the 1980s; Barney Bubbles must have been one that stuck. The Friends documentary website mentions that he may have worked in San Francisco for a while with Stanley Mouse, something I can easily believe since his early artwork has the same direct, high-impact quality as the best of the American psychedelic posters. Barney brought that sensibility to album cover design. His first work for Hawkwind, In Search of Space, is a classic of inventive packaging.

Update: BB didn’t work with Mouse in SF, I’ve now been told.

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Hawkwind: In Search of Space (1971).

It’s fair to say that Hawkwind were very lucky to find Barney Bubbles, he immediately gave their music—which was often rambling and semi-improvised at the time—a compelling visual dimension that exaggerated their science fiction image while still presenting different aspects of the band’s persona. In Search of Space is an emblematic design that opens out to reveal a poster layout inside. One of the things that distinguishes Barney Bubbles’ designs from other illustrators of this period is a frequent use of hard graphical elements, something that’s here right at the outset of his work for Hawkwind.

This album also included a Bubbles-designed “Hawklog”, a booklet purporting to be the logbook of the crew of the Hawkwind spacecraft. I scanned my copy some time ago and converted it to a PDF; you can download it here.

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