Phil Baines: remembering the work and teachings of a grasp typographer

by Editorial Team

Anybody who has ever appeared up and questioned about an inscription, signal, storefront or engraving on a constructing owes a debt to Professor Phil Baines, who has died on the age of 65. A gifted graphic designer and typographer, Baines’ profession mixed educating with a ardour for chronicling the historical past of signage, in all its kinds. For 32 years, Baines was a valued and inspirational instructor at Central Saint Martins (CSM), London, serving to form generations of younger designers and encourage them to look to the artwork and craft of lettering, its historical past and evolution.

Remembering Phil Baines

(Picture credit score: Phil Baines)

Baines mixed this academic profession with an expert one, designing books for Thames & Hudson, Phaidon, Puffin and Penguin, in addition to working with certainly one of Wallpaper’s favorite letterpress-based print and design studios, the New North Press, to issues as various as badge design for Stereohype and commissions from the Royal Faculty of Artwork (RCA), the Crafts Council and lots of extra. He was particularly well-known for his ardour for architectural lettering and signage, and was additionally accountable for designing wayfinding for a lot of up to date buildings, together with the Ditchling Museum of Artwork + Craft, opened a decade in the past after a refurbishment by Adam Richards Architects, and signage for CSM’s campus in King’s Cross, in addition to a long-standing working relationship with Matt’s Gallery in 9 Elms. 

Baines authored a number of enduring design books, together with Indicators, lettering within the atmosphere (Laurence King, 2003), written with long-time collaborator Dr Catherine Dixon, in addition to co-writing one of many definitive texts of recent typography, Sort & typography (Laurence King, 2001) with Andy Haslam. Along with Dixon, Baines was additionally accountable for curating CSM’s Central Lettering Report, a wealthy archive of typographic historical past held on the Central Saint Martins Museum & Examine Assortment.

Phil Baines Penguin Book

Penguin by Design, accessible from Amazon

(Picture credit score: Penguin)

One other ardour was e book cowl design, and Baines revealed the definitive information to seven many years of Penguin’s graphic output in 2005, a e book that predated our present cultural fixation with all issues retro. He adopted it with a take a look at the quilt artwork of Penguin’s publishing home for youthful reader, Puffin, in 2010.

Phil Baines was born in Cumbria in 1958. His first chosen vocation was the priesthood, and though he by no means practised, the visible language of the church, together with its centuries-old affiliation with printing, carving and detailing, all performed a beneficial position in shaping his pursuits. In 1980, he modified course and undertook an artwork basis course, occurring to review graphic design at St Martin’s College of Artwork in 1982, adopted by a grasp’s diploma in Communication Arts and Design on the RCA.

Phil Baines’ Penguin Great Ideas typographic book covers

Ebook covers for Penguin’s Nice Concepts sequence

(Picture credit score: Penguin)

In 1988, Baines returned to lecture at his alma mater, shortly earlier than it grew to become Central Saint Martins Faculty of Artwork and Design. From 1991 onwards, he led the typography division. Professionally, his work rose to prominence within the Nineties graphic design increase, a time when new digital processes coincided with a revival of curiosity in letterpress and historic kinds. As his analysis and writings demonstrated, Baines considered lettering as an inherently human exercise, a thread that led from the embellished medieval manuscript to a contemporary road signal or manhole cowl.   

In addition to his books and educating, Phil Baines labored on three necessary public commissions with Carmody Groarke, working with completely different supplies and surfaces to create enduring memorials to the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and the 7 July 2005 London bombings. ‘The widespread floor in our collaboration with Phil Baines was based mostly in a shared curiosity within the making of bodily issues,’ Kevin Carmody wrote, and this physicality prolonged to Baines’ curiosity within the pragmatic, the neglected, and the taken without any consideration. Naturally, his work gravitated in the direction of the printed phrase and typography within the constructed atmosphere, slightly than design for screens. ‘I take it without any consideration that different individuals will nonetheless need bodily objects as a result of I do,’ he as soon as advised Eye Journal.

Graphic candles suspended in display

Paschal Candles with lettering by Phil Baines, Extol exhibition

(Picture credit score: Dayna Tohidi)

A retrospective exhibition, ‘Extol: Phil Baines celebrating letters’, was lately held at CSM’s Lethaby Gallery in London, whereas his web site, Public Lettering, stays a beneficial and inspirational useful resource. Elsewhere, you possibly can discover his Instagram and Flickr feeds, each of which provide insights into his wide-ranging pursuits and influential teachings. He’s survived by his spouse, Jackie Warner, and their daughters Beth and Felicity.

Supply: Wallpaper

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