|1942 - 1983|
Bubbles - who
sadly, took his own life last week - was every bit as influential as those
creative performers for whom he designed sleeves.
But to tag Bubbles as just a designer of record sleeves and adjacent paraphernalia is to vastly understate his role.
His ability to assimilate everday imagery and then vividly reinterpret it with stunning wit , technical prowess and impeccable colour sense revolutionised popular packing concepts these last few years.
In terms of both draughtmanship and typography, not since American artist David Stone Martin dresssed LP sleeves for Clef and Verve, in the '50s, has any one individual exerted such a positive and much emulated influence in this arena as Barney Bubbles.
However, it was for his mock-cubist
BLOCKHEAD trademark that Bubbles
was internationally acclaimed,
prompting Japanese devotees to
rummage through his garbage for
| Born Colin
Fulcher, this west Londoner was self-effacing to a fault, refusing to sign
his work, not out of arrogance but because he genuinly considered that identifying
himself was really no big deal. Despite his aversion to self-promotion,
Barney Bubbles style was so personal as to be a recognisable signature in
Said Jake Riviera, who forever championed Bubbles' endeavours: "Only a unique man with Barney's immense dignity and talent had both the courage and modesty to do just that."
It was Barney who
- with Riviera often supplying the slogans - instantly established the
carefree visual identities of such adventurous labels as STIFF,
RADAR and F-BEAT with such clarity.
| Prior to the '77 cultural
uprising, Bubbles had already established his creative credentials with
swingin' 60s design group CONRAN, operating liquid light shows in the psychedelic
temples of both London and San Francisco and formulating
Hawkwind's original Gothic imagery.
Cover for Hawkwind's ROADHAWKS album > >
Yet it was the post-punk era which saw Bubbles totally revitalized, to the extent where he unconsciously dictated design trends.
And though his concepts have been plagiarized more often than any other commercially popular designer, nobody ever came close to recapturing his sparkling sense of humour.
| Whenever he felt himself
in danger of retracing his own steps, Bubbles would detach himself from
his work and go to ground - once to Ireland, another time to a monastery.
One self-enforced sabbatical had him restocking shelves in a supermarket.
His talent wasn't restricted to paper, brush and pencil. As a director he was responsible for The Specials' "Ghost Town" video and Costello's "Clubland" which was featured on NME's Expresso Video.
+ copyright by Phil
Franks) may have frequently undervalued the validity of his own work
and the clarity of the innovations he pioneered, but those who knew the
man either as a friend or through his work never failed to be stimulated
and entertained by his enthusiasm and energy.
|Roy Carr - New Musical Express, 26th Nov. 1983|