Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Making of "Lifestyle Illustration of the '60s"

By guest author David Roach

For the book itself I was brought in as the historical expert (number one in a field of one as Mad magazine used to say!) but the driving force behind the project was artist, designer and all round rennaiscence man Rian Hughes who selected the images and designed the book.


This his recollection of how the project came to be:

“I'd first been aware of Coby Whitmore and Al Parker via Shane Gline's blog, and of course a bit later via Lief's excellent TI. I then did three years of research at the archives of UK magazine publishers, the British Library and Colindale Newspaper Library (where I shot the rarer pop and late 60s magazines) and laboriously edited together the best work from UK sources which reprinted the best of the US and UK material to prepare a proposal - a mock up cover design, a "sales pitch" description, and a sampling of the images - pages and pages of thumbnails."


"I have known Charlotte and Peter Fiell since I designed Peter Fiell's mid century modern furniture showroom in the King's Road around 20 years ago. They had moved on to become the British editors at Taschen, so I first pitched the idea to them. They then left Taschen and set up their own imprint, Fiell, and asked me to come on board as a kind of "pop culture" book advisor, and agreed to do the Lifestyle Illustration and Custom Lettering books. I then arranged to scan and retouch the material."


"The magazines were scanned with the help of Alexis Sheffield, and retouched with the help of Steve Cook (ex 2000AD art editor and photoshop tutor at the London College of Fashion). Type taken off, colour corrected and so on. The photo shoots and canning sessions were laborious processes which took place at IPC, the British Library and Colindale, where I hired a room and shot in situ."


"At some point here (I forget at which stage exactly) I also asked David if he would like to get involved, and he kindly showed me his collection, some of which (the Spanish contingent!) made it into the book, and was an essential part of the later period that the book covers. I laid out the book and then sent the PDF files to David, from which he pulled together the threads of the story."


"From pitch to printed book was around three and a half years.”


Concluded tomorrow...

* Lifestyle Illustrations of the '60s is available at


  1. A big fan of this type of illustration. Brilliant will have to buy the book.

  2. Anonymous9:31 AM

    I just got my copy. It's fanastic! Very inspirational -- and I'm not even a professional artist. I love the optimism in these illustrations, and the sense of a sophisticated, benevolent civilization. Sans product and other context, they are fascinating to view as pure artwork.

  3. Chad Sterling11:19 AM

    I hope (and think) this book will be a big succes.You guys deserve it for the work you've putin.
    The great hope, of course, is that the increasing profile of this kind of illustration might spark some kind of reassessment by art editors in magazines and advertising and then...who knows.

  4. Charlie Allen12:30 PM

    Again, stunning stuff. And again, I'm in awe of these British cats. Great posts and book....thanks.

  5. Okay I have to ask cause its bugging me. The image of the book looks to be a hardback book yet on Amazon you can only order a paperback which is it? Ihope the book is successful.

  6. Armand;

    Rian sent me an email saying the book is "Stiff card cover with overhang and flaps, but not hardback. Like a Taschen book format."

  7. These images that have been posted here over the last few days were enough to convince me that this book is a worthy purchase. So last night I did indeed pre-order it from Amazon and anxiously await its delivery after August 1st. Thanks are in order to David and Rian for putting this lovely book together, as well as to Leif, for making us all aware of it!

  8. Colin7:29 PM

    Leif, how on earth did you find the time to write this massive book and see to all your other activities?

  9. Colin;

    I'm only hosting this story on Today's Inspiration -- the book is the result of Rian Hughes' efforts (with a huge assist from David Roach, who is the author of this week's series of posts, and sevearl others as listed in today's installment).

  10. Anonymous10:04 PM

    I got my copy today, it's really rather nifty.


    One scary aspect was that so much work listed as "unknown, Womans Own back cover" is terrific.

    They really must have been knee deep in excellent illustration to have forgotten who did some of these..