Malcolm English takes us on a magical ride back to 1960’s Swinging London and reveals the stylistic influences behind the illustrations of Tom Salter’s iconic book. Peace Man!!
Born in 1946, Malcolm studied illustration and Design at Leicester College of Art. After graduating in 1969, Malcolm joined the illustration group Astrop Hill, London. There, he worked on a range of projects including book covers, posters and logos. It was during this period that Malcolm was commissioned by Tom Salter, owner of the influential store Gear, to illustrate ‘Carnaby Street,’ a celebration of one of London’s most vibrant streets.
Bridgeman: How influential was the music scene of the time?
Malcolm English: “It was really productive to work whilst listening to music, it helps keep the spirits up – especially if a deadline requires an ‘all-nighter’. I still like to work to music but back then it was The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix or The Who that would have kept the neighbours awake! I hope that the illustrations for Carnaby Street convey some of the feeling of that era – it really was a good time to be in London – a great sense of optimism and change that the world might be a happier, better place.”
Bridgeman: How can you see these images being licensed today?
Malcolm English: “The Carnaby Street images have featured in a book “Boutique London” by Richard Lester (ACC Editions) and a documentary film by Orange Leaf Prods “Carnaby Street Undressed” and I suppose they may have some ‘retro’ value in the merchandising world – mugs/cards/posters etc – because at least they are happy, colourful and, I believe, confident. Yes, they might well be a ‘breath of fresh nostalgic air’ in this age of double-dip depression.”
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