Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Barry Craddock – Master of pastiche


To an interested observer like myself, with absolutely no links with the advertising industry, Barry is one of the unsung heroes of commercial illustration. He has the skill to adapt to almost any idiom or style as required. I like to imagine him at work surrounded by an enormous reference library of the finest graphic imagery (Gebrauchsgraphik, Commercial Art, Graphis, Art & Industry) but the reality is probably very different. Here is a small selection of his output that gives some impression of the enormous range of his talents.



In the late 1980’s (or early 1990’s) there was a Shell poster campaign with a strong period feel, calculated to evoke the empty roads and unlimited speeds of mid-century Britain. Barry’s illustrations captured this to perfection with fonts and layout to match. These examples were photographed in London Road, St. Albans.


In my opinion, the wonderful faux woodcuts for Beck’s Bier in 1985 are the very best of his work. There are 3 variants that I know of: portrait format, landscape format and a Christmas themed landscape format. The portrait format is the strongest – a proletarian brewer holds a foaming glass to the light and subjects it to piercing scrutiny in the interests of quality control. Behind, a towering factory hall packed with cylinders, valves and gauges all dedicated to the brewing process. In the landscape image, our muscular worker-hero strides purposefully to the busy waterfront where barges line up to ferry the casks of ale to a thirsty nation. In the background, to the left a medieval bridge and cathedral and to the right a towering industrial facade and smoking chimneys. The style combines the robust immediacy of an Expressionist woodcut with the gravitas of Ludwig Hohlwein. Superb images but, did they work? Did consumption rise? Did the proletarian mood hold any appeal for the style conscious, conspicuous consumers of the Thatcher years?


Barry is still hard at work, to visit his website, click here. Perhaps, before too long, someone will produce a monograph on Barry’s work and collect his entire output into a single place. It would be a great asset to future generations of graphic artists and historians of design and illustration.

2 comments:

David Hughes said...

Barry's work for Beck's did indeed work. Sales certainly increased and the short-lived campaign co-incided with Beck's increasing association with 'Art' which ultimately changed the direction of their advertising here in the UK. The campaign was discontinued not for lack of efficacy but due to sensitivity about the imagery voiced by brewers in Bremen. The campaign never ran in Germany and was only ever intended for a UK audience, nevertheless..

There was actually a fourth iteration of the theme; a version of the portrait image but without the hat and it was the hat-less version that actually ran. You can see it here: http://www.davidandassociates.co.uk/2005/08/scottish-newcastle/ Barry was asked to remove the hat because the client was worried that the man may be bald underneath. Luckily for everyone, when
Barry took the hat off the young man proved to have a healthy head of hair.

Phil Beard said...

Many thanks, David - this is fascinating. I wonder just what it was that concerned the Germans. Was the retro flavour simply out of synch with the contemporary image they preferred or did they detect some Third Reich association that would, understandably, give pause for thought. I don't see it myself but I can see how it might be possible. As for the idea that hats are no more than a device for concealing baldness - words fail me. But I guess that in your business you get used to these curious responses.