Derek Birdsall-biography

Derek Birdsall biography

1934 Born in Wakefield, Yorkshire

1947 First freelance commission at the age of 13: hand-painted posters for Knottingley Cricket Club

1949 Enters Wakefield College of Art

1952 Wins scholarship to Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. Fails diploma on account of external assessor’s appraisal: “not enough work and type too small”

1955 Enlists for National Service on ROAC printing unit in Cyprus; demobbed in 1957 while in same week receiving first commercial commission from Balding & Mansell printers in London. Balding & Mansell continue to print his work as a supplier

1960 Birdsall designs his first Penguin covers

1961 Designs literature for Lotus Cars and for Pirelli, including three of the now famous Calendars; also designs packaging for Morphy Richards (domestic appliances) and Dorothy Gray (cosmetics)

1960-70 Art-directs magazines including Town, Nova and Twen

1963 Elected to the Alliance Graphique Internationale

1970 Re-styles Penguin Education series; also commissioned by Mobil Oil to design Pegasus, their magazine for world-wide distribution which eventually ran for 20 years in six languages. The commission was followed by several print advertising briefs and books for Mobil companies all over the world

1977 Designs Monty Python book for a fee comprising temporary membership of the comedy group and 1/7 of the royalties

1980-91 Designs several major art catalogues for Yale University Press, including Treasure Houses of Britain at the National Gallery in Washington, DC in 1985 and Rembrandt and His Workshop at the Rijks museum in Amsterdam in 1991. Also designs catalogues for George Stubbs at the Tate Gallery (1984), Margaret Bourke-White at the RCA (1990), Henry Moore for the British Council in New Delhi (1987) and the Duff Cooper Library for the British Embassy in Paris in 1997

1983 Made Royal Designer for Industry (RDI)

1988-92 Returns temporarily to magazine design and art-direction, designing The Independent Magazine and the first issue of the Sunday Telegraph Magazine; both are very successful in terms of circulation increase. Also devises an in-flight magazine for IBM Europe

2000 Designs The Albert Memorial, a book on the restoration of the eponymous monument, published the Paul Mellon Centre in London. Against stiff competition wins the commission for a new edition of Common Worship

2004 Designs a set of commemorative stamps for the Royal Society of Arts 250th anniversary and Yale publishes his own Notes on Book Design

2005 Awarded Prince Philip Designers Prize.
Wrote ‘Notes On Design’

2008 Awarded honorary MA by the University for Creative Arts


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