My favourite posters by Paul Catherall
After graduating in Illustration in 1989 I moved to London. I used to stare at the Underground posters, in between dragging my portfolio around design companies and publishers, daydreaming about producing one myself. 13 years later I did just that, signalling a landmark moment in my career as a designer. My work was on show to possibly the largest audience in Britain and had become part of the capital's daily commute. I was honoured to be part of the Underground's rich poster tradition, alongside many of the inspirational artists I have chosen here.
Paul Catherall's favourite posters
Epsom Summer Meeting, by Tom Eckersley and Eric Lombers, 1938.
A really effective design from the successful partnership of Tom Eckersley and Eric Lombers. The close crop portrait of a jockey with subtle interplay between the colour palette, particularly the pinks and brown, create a strikingly simple, attractive poster - very of its time; a perfect case of less is more. The arrangement of the type and roundel give the portrait room to breathe but add dynamism to the composition.
Dorking by motor bus, by F Gregory Brown, 1922.
As with Brown's other landscape posters, for its time there is a very adventurous - verging on exotic - use of colour in this design which is, at the same time, quintessentially British, displaying a sense of optimism in the years after WWI. It's an almost abstract treatment of the English landscape with the cool grey border really enhancing the warm and vibrant colours.
Our heritage; William Pitt, by Robert Sargent Austin, 1943.
A display of fine draughtsmanship in this portrait from a set of four (with equally fine qualities shown in the Nelson and Churchill portraits) that is reminiscent in style and composition of William Nicholson. The heavy use of black creates a solid, heroic base for the finer detailed workings in the face and hands while the use of an off-white base perfectly conveys the nostalgic feel of the poster.
London after dark, by Fred Millett, 1968.
The recent appetite for all things retro make this archetypal sixties poster still relevant, particularly with our current obsession with regaining the vibe of swinging London. Its design is echoed today in advertising campaigns, CD covers and book jackets - though never with quite the same feeling of immediacy and authenticity.
Winter sales, by Edward McKnight Kauffer, 1921.
It's difficult to choose from the great collection of Kauffer posters, with some beautiful landscapes displaying masterful colour ranges. This bold design shows a move toward the semi abstract graphic influences of Vorticism and effective use of cool greys with a warm splash of orange evoking the chaotic rush through the London rain to the inviting sales, creating a remarkably strong composition.
To summer sales by Underground, by Horace Taylor, 1926.
Yet again the lure of the sales inspires a striking image, where use of line and flat colour are expertly executed. The bright patterns of the clothes and flat shapes of the ladies' dresses build up a strong triangular composition that perfectly conveys twenties fashion. A cheerful, colourful poster, that sits very well with the other three Taylor Underground designs.
Cup Final Wembley, Saturday April 24th, by Eric George Fraser, 1928.
The bold simplicity of the colour palette and lively design combine to display all the excitement of the cup final. Though the composition is busy it's tied in place by the near mirror image of the left to right side, particularly the goalkeeper. The continuation of white and pinkish grey tones through the stadium and players with the solid base of blue helps hold the arrangement of the match in a frozen moment in time.
Go out into the country, by Graham Sutherland, 1938.
With elements of surrealism, abstraction and even collage this poster shows a modernist composition that could be very apt today - just replace the typewriter with a computer. It shows the eternal theme of escape to the country, that seems so attractive when commuting in London. I particularly like the colours that he and other artists like Paul Nash used to describe the English countryside, with the dreamlike river section singing out from the slate grey office backdrop along with the bright yellow butterfly and brick red roundel.
Hadley Wood, by Frank Newbould, 1929.
A beautifully composed design and a quite unusual combination of non primary colours, that are subtle but strong. The cutaway style, making use of the background poster colour, creates depth, in spite of the flat colour having no gradation in tone. Wonderfully evocative of a rural idyll easily accessible by tram.
For the zoo book to Regent's Park, by Charles Paine, 1921.
The lovely combination of the penguins' exaggerated blue markings and bold outline, set against a custard yellow backdrop, creates a perfectly simple, endearing image, summoning a vibrant, childlike enthusiasm for the zoo and its exotic appeal. The warm grey shadows, continued through to the ground, are a perfect foil for the brighter colours.