Reasons To Be Cheerful: the Barney Bubbles revival


My long and rambling post about the work of Barney Bubbles in January 2007 generated a considerable flurry of renewed interest in the great designer and ended by saying “We’re overdue a decent book-length examination of his work and his influence.” Just over a year later, here we are…. Paul Gorman was one of the contributors to the lengthy comments thread and I’m really pleased to see him take up the challenge to bring Barney’s work to a wider and, one hopes, new audience. Reasons To Be Cheerful (title borrowed from an Ian Dury song) is scheduled to be published by Adelita in November 2008.


left: Doremi Fasol Latido by Hawkwind (1972).
right: Ian Dury & the Blockheads logo design (late 70s).

“He was so good I couldn’t have really competed with him.”
Sir Peter Blake

Reasons To Be Cheerful is a celebration of the life and work of one of the greatest designers of recent times: Barney Bubbles.

Bubbles—real name Colin Fulcher—was a giant of graphic design whose prodigious output is revered by musicians, artists, fellow designers and music and pop culture fans.

Reasons To Be Cheerful is published November 2008 to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the artist’s death. Author Paul Gorman is also curating a companion exhibition with Sir Paul Smith.

Barney Bubbles’ body of work included early posters for the Rolling Stones, brand and product design for Sir Terence Conran, psychedelic art with poster maestro Stanley Mouse, layouts for underground magazines OZ and Friends and collaborations with many bands and performers, from counter-culture collective Hawkwind to new wave stars Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, Nick Lowe, Graham Parker, The Damned and Billy Bragg.

Bubbles links the colourful underground optimism of the 60s to the sardonic and manipulative art which accompanied punk’s explosion from 1976 onwards, and influenced a generation of design talent including Neville Brody, Malcolm Garrett and Peter Saville.

The lavishly illustrated Reasons To Be Cheerful will contain hundreds of images and many full-colour plates.

About the Author
Paul Gorman is a popular culture historian and author of The Look: Adventures in Rock & Pop Fashion, and the top ten bestselling Straight with Boy George.

Paul Gorman’s The Look: Adventures in Rock and Pop Fashion

Previously on { feuilleton }
Barney Bubbles: artist and designer

15 thoughts on “Reasons To Be Cheerful: the Barney Bubbles revival”

  1. The books done !! was Rick poyner involved John ?

    Well thats really fantastic news – made my week that – brilliant – I have waited for years for BB to get the correct historical recognition he is due – only thing is – I liked him being someone you found if you deserved to find him – but Ive been championing him for 18 years to my own students – mind you, only those who I felt deserved it mind !!
    Ever since opening Space Ritual in 1974 ( Late ! ) I fell head over ..with his imagery, colour, and visual narrative.

    If its a limited edition run – i will secretly be pleased – goes against all we do to want to keep him Personal but i think you know what i mean John. It will be top of the Graphics students reading list at Manchester school of Art anyway thats for sure come Christmas !


  2. Hi Mack. I don’t know if Rick Poyner has contributed but Paul tells me other design professionals have done so. I imagine we’ll find out soon enough.

    You may like to know that one of Barney’s colleagues, David Wills, has been blogging here recently. Lots of rare BB info being brought to light.

    Oh! Just noticed a comment from you on David’s pages. No matter, this link will serve as a notice for others…

  3. Hi again John -Ive put this on too – sorry to repeat – but the Ambit celebration page below might be good ?

    not been here for a bit – and just seen Davids confirmation to my comments 8 months back ( Mr D Rider ) of BBs love for Paolozzi – I knew it – its in the work – especially the inner sleeves for Ritual and the Oz posters. – I wonder if they met ?
    Paolozzi was a huge influence to many of us -of course – and the 1956 show at the ICA was the big one – with his Light Show of found images – with an epidioscope – pretty far out then – hot from paris no doubt – but that mid 50s ‘Independent group’ shook things up for the year. ( Theo Crosby set that up i think ? )

    Did any of you folks out there work with Ambit ? when Paolozzi was there – ( John maybe you could start an Ambit page ? some great work there -Martin Bax and Mike Foreman -right ? I have some old issues late 60s with Paolozzis work in under the Pseudonym ‘Arturo Laskus’ – great drawings and covers

    – EP was great teacher and i will never forget his presence around the RCA – especially in the LIFT

    thanks for all this John – the site just gets better and better – come to Manchester and talk to us and the students please whenever suits

  4. I saw some issues of Ambit years ago–don’t have any myself–but don’t remember Paolozzi in any of them. JG Ballard (wasn’t he an editor there for a while?) did a lot for Ambit and he and Paolozzi were friends so it’s no surprise.

    I actually live in Manchester but I don’t think I could be persuaded to give a talk. No slight on your students, I’ve given a couple of talks in the past and didn’t enjoy the experience one bit. Can’t focus my thoughts with a group of people staring at me. Sorry.

  5. Yes – it is a bit intense at times – doing the old chalking and talking ..but your grand website makes up in bucket loads for not being able to persuade you in to speak to them – if i had been able to access a site like this as a student – I would never have gone into college and got any work done ! great inspiration

    so much to read and explore – fantastic

    Yes Paolozzi was a big part of Ambit – often as Arturo Laskis and if im right NEAGU’P – maybe only martin bax – Foreman knew – theres a link to its archive somewhere for readers here – bit like the Oz link – will dig that out

    thanks John

  6. Did you see my post where I describe seeing Paolozzi’s work at the Ideal Home Exhibition on a Doc Draw expedition with Mr. Gould and Kirby and three years worth of students, in 1959 I’d guess. Amongst the wallpaper and bathroom fittings a veritable booth city, with a series of Paolozzi prints on display in, incongruously, I think it was the Mapplethorpe (?) or some-such Wallpaper company display. Barney raved, Gould complained of rubbishism. Barney conspiratorially whispered that he thought “they were great.”

  7. Paolozzi was a huge influence to many of us -of course – and the 1956 show at the ICA was the big one – with his Light Show of found images – with an epidioscope – pretty far out then – hot from paris no doubt – but that mid 50s ‘Independent group’ shook things up for the year…

  8. Hello Carson – The opaque projector, epidioscope – juxtaposition show was something else in London at that time Im sure – were you in attendance there ? can you describe it – luck are those who were lucky enough to have seen it – and I suppose yes it inspired artistically and also academically – used by generation of Art lectures for decades to come – when needing to ruffle up the students a little in a lecture theatre – turn off the lights and Wam! Bam! – watch this – a circus of images – Hesse like – with the sign ”Welcome to the magic theatre – it is not for everyone ” we are back to Hawkwind again there – best wishes Mac

  9. a few posts up I wrote ”I have some old issues, late 60s with Paolozzi’s work in under the Pseudonym ‘Arturo Laskus’ – great drawings and covers ”
    Thanks to a friend John – I have it on good authority that Arturo was not one of Paolozzis Pseudonym pen names but his real studio assistant – artistically – an Edouardo double by all acounts – very talented – the work in Ambit is wonderful. Lets have an Arturo Laskis show. My apologies to Arturo on my gaff – though it is of course a compliment also to suspect him of being EP in disguise

    Carson did you just copy and paste my comment above ? – as I seem to have just commented on my own earlier comment on Paolozzis ICA Independent show ‘ hot from Paris’ etc etc ? it reads word for word – unless I am your dopplenganger and you are mine ! LOL

  10. I’m so thrilled that there is finally a book on Barney! My favorite pop artist of all time!

  11. I had noticed the mistake..” Eduardo P. under the pseudonym Arturo Laskus ” and tried to point it out, but am not too clever on computers and think I failed, but I knew Lascus and his work well at one time, when he was working with E.P. and know well that he was no pseuonym, but a very fine artist.

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