A new country - a new life.
My move to Dublin enabled me to produce work for companies with an established International Identity - companies such as Volkswagen, Carling Black Label, Player & Wills, Hennessy and many more. With names like these in my portfolio, the next step would be London then New York. It was 1966 when me and my portfolio hit the streets of London. The hand of fate intervened as Harold Wilson's famous 'freeze' together with the imposition of Selective Employment Tax put paid to my ideas. A switch to fine art at that stage was a possibility but the safer option was the formation of a design group. BB&G was a title which became synonymous with the very best in graphic design in Ireland for the next 30 years.
View the attached Dublinman Gallery for my other work.
This illustration was done for a company calendar. The building was being constructed by a Dublin
civil engineering firm called Smith & Pearson who were clients of the first advertising agency I worked for in Dublin. I found the painting among my specimens a couple of years ago and decided it was worth exhibiting. It was sold but only after I had thankfully ordered a limited edition run of 50 (see sales page), as a reminder of ''the Harp Building'' now changed hands many times but fondly remembered.
With the move to Ireland, art had to take a back seat while I established my new profile as a 'visualiser' in a totally new environment. My visual ideas in in the form of 'roughs' were being taken to the next stage by the 'finished artist' who's job it was to translate my concepts into a mechanical form suitable for reproduction. Photography too was playing an increasingly important role in Advertising. Workload, pressure and deadlines took precedence.
Examples of my daily work from this period have long since disappeared for example all my design work for a new cigarette pack, the first ever to be designed in the country together with all the advertising material associated with it. The brand was called 'CORSAIR' each pack containing a poker hand which could be redeemed later by the seller according to it's value. The launch of this new concept was kept so secretly guarded, that even when the brand name was being hand lettered by the finished artist, I invented the anagram, 'AIRCORPS'. The letters were re-arranged later by myself, discarding the letter P in the process. The brand was short lived however, as it was withdrawn due to government strictures regarding health and gambling.
The MD in my first Dublin agency a lady called Mamie Dignam had a thing about calendars for which she made provision in her client's media budget.
She always insisted on showing a painting, which suited me admirably. I did this one for a bread company to portray the rich and bountiful Irish landscape.
I was lucky enough to keep the illustration which I later submitted to the Royal Hibernian Academy. The painting, including it's red dot, I photographed on the gallery wall, hence the unavoidable reflections.
During the period 1966 until 1995 examples of work have, for the most part, not been retained as I had no intentions of applying for jobs any more. Below is a varied selection of my work kept for reasons best known to myself. As design consultants, it was our job to project the brand image onto many different forms of media including stand design from original design through to installation in the exhibition hall.
This was my original presentation drawing for an exhibition stand at the RDS in Dublin.
Packaging played a large part in our everyday work. This was one of a range of six flavours designed for a client in the North of Ireland. I had done the 'roughs for submission to the client and they liked my rendition of the crisps so much that they requested that it be used throughout as a background for all the flavours, of which this is one.
Most of the work produced by BB&G during this period, as I have already mentioned, has long since been discarded. Therefore what is shown in this section is a random selection of all that remains of my work
This was a range of tobacco tins which won best packaging at the Irish Creative Advertising and Design Awards in 1967 for Clarkes, a subsidiary of Player Wills. Apologies for the pathetic Peter Wyngarde imitation. I was a great fan of his when he played a character called Jason King in a TV series that year. I couldn't get a shot of the packs on their own- honest!
The consultancy was asked to create an image for a type of hamburger / sandwich type bun which was being introduced to the market by Joseph Downes of Dublin, makers of Buttercrust bread.
I came up with the name which you see here together with the complete package adaptations, recipe leaflets etc. Unfortunately, examples of these cannot be traced. What the client didn't know was that a Bundy was the nickname for the machine installed by the Glasgow Corporation at various 'fare' stages along the bus routes where the conductor had to leave the bus to punch in the precise time they passed each clock. So that's it, the secret's out at last after 30 years.
Symbols have been with us since time began, The fish, the ank, the swastika with it's tilted sinister connotations.
One of the most memorable symbols designed in the late fifties by a designer called FHK Henrion, of whom I was a great admirer, was his design for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, now regarded as 'ban the bomb' or today, 'peace'. It uses the old semaphore flag signalling system denoting the letters N and D. It also implies the bomb's point of entry and it's widespread effect, all contained within a globe. How simple , how effective.
In my own way, and following the same design principles, I went on to design many company symbols and logos. Here is one such example which achieved recognition by appearing in a handbook of International Trademark Designs which was published in the late 60,s
Corporate Identity covers a wide spectrum of items, from symbol and/or logotype through to annual reports, stationery, packaging, vehicle and staff livery etc.in order to achieve maximum impact wherever it is seen.
The cover of the corporate manual is all that remains from the 150 page 'bible' from the days of Waterford Foods which began as a farmer's co-op
covering mainly the southeastern region of Ireland and which has now become Glanbia Foods.
In Waterford's case, ties were considered a requirement to show the colours when required. The blue for senior personnel and the green for other ranks. How discriminatory was that then?
The tie pins were made of sterling silver. In this instance, real silver for the directors was ruled out - pity or I might have wangled one for myself since it was my idea in the first place.
...and this was it!
These are the only remaining examples of my designs for Smurfit Packaging during the 80's.
The Kildare Hotel and Country Club logo incorporated the wishes of the then owner, Dr. Michael Smurfit and also had to have the approval of the Chief Herald's office in Dublin which, for the first time, gave me an insight into the demanding rules governing heraldry.
This was a painstakingly hand rendered illustration used in one of the companies' Annual Reports. The illustration shows the Smurfit logo in perspective, backed by the flags of the countries with which the company does business.
The label design for the Hotel's house wine gained much praise from the French Appellation Control Board which I took to be a great compliment indeed.
Many designs were submitted for this badge before final approval by Michael Smurfit. Such was the prestige attached to what has now become a symbol of one of the finest golf clubs in the world.
On the other hand, my design applications for tee markers, golf buggies, locker rooms, flags,keys, hats,directional signs, towels, sweaters, even the unique sinage on the 'restroom' doors all went through without a hitch.
I had always painted my personal cards for family occasions including Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas, etc. for many years.
Clients of course were given the Bernardini treatment when cards were requested. Below are a selection of cards, mainly Christmas, which were
produced for various clients. In the case of Euroscreen, who were printers, the stipulation was that the cards should always feature the firm's van somewhere in the scene. Note the change to the larger black one in succeeding years.
Society of Architects: Dublin
Waterford Coop. Society
MS Respite Care Centre: Dublin
Euroscreen: Pepper Cannister Church, Dublin
Euroscreen: GPO O'Connell Street, Dublin
Euroscreen: Government Buildings, Dublin
These three designs were submitted for a competition. The brief, as I recall, was to design the obverse and reverse sides for a new medal for the Royal Dublin Society together with an individual Horse event reverse side also.
Although these were done ten years before I retired, I thought they might just be worthy of inclusion to show how we did things BC (before computers).
Two years before I retired, I was listening to the Gay Byrne morning radio show in the office. He had an artist on called Gerald Davis ( now sadly no longer with us ) who was describing a photograph wich he had taken. His description would include phrases like, ''the sun is setting'' - ''the foreground is dark scrub'' ''there are birds alighting on an island'' ''there are buildings on higher ground on the left'' and so on. This piece was repeated for 3 weeks in succession Listeners were invited to picture the scene as they saw it, and submit their artistic response for entry to a competition. I was the lucky winner and this was my winning entry.( Please excuse the poor quality as it was photographed under glass). What was fascinating to observe, was the difference in interpretation by each artist, none of the entries bearing any resemblence to the photograph which was revealed at the exhibition. A true testament to the power of the imagination.
Well that brings me to the end of the design related elements during my long career as visualizer/designer. What you see from now on is work which I suppose can be loosely termed 'Fine Art'.
For the greater part of my 'artistic' career I have been subject to the constraints of working to a client brief always together with a deadline. Now that there is no pressure to deliver, I have had to adopt a different approach. Once a painting is underway the process becomes second nature. However there's usually a quirky element which can creep in from time to time, even if it's only in the title.
I do hope you will continue to enjoy viewing my work in my other pages as much as I have enjoyed bringing those career highlights and historical anecdotes to your attention. You might even find something there that you would like to purchase in which case you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Retireman Gallery contains my more recent work including my sepia limited edition prints. These are for sale through www.cherrylanegallery.