Person NameEckersley; Tom (1914-1997); Graphic designer and educator
Dates and PlacesSalford, London
ActivityTom Eckersley was born on 30 September 1914 in Lancashire. His artistic training began in 1930 when he enrolled at Salford Art School, where his abilities were soon recognised and he was awarded the Heywood Medal for Best Student. In 1934 Eckersley moved to London with the express purpose of becoming a freelance poster designer. He was accompanied by Eric Lombers (1914-1978), a fellow student and future collaborator on commissioned poster designs.

Eckersley-Lombers posters were both aesthetic and functional, thereby perfectly fulfilling advertisers' criteria. Eckersley-Lombers always supplied full size artwork with hand drawn lettering for their poster designs. Eckersley was involved not only in graphic design but in its teaching: he and Lombers worked as visiting lectures in poster design at Westminster School of Art. The partnership benefited from the cultural recognition of the poster as a design piece in the 1930s and from the fact that mass media was yet to explode, meaning that the poster was the only means of shouting a message to a mass audience. However, this was in turn restricted by tariffs that one had to pay in order to put up posters in authorised spaces. Posters thus needed to be memorable even to someone strolling past and therefore maybe only glimpsing it once.

The start of World War II in 1939 effectively marked the end of Eckersley's partnership with Lombers, as they joined different military services and there was a decline in demand for commercial advertising. This led Eckersley to create posters for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), aimed at workers in factories and industrial settings that often supported the military in someway. These posters are striking in their bluntness; with little text it is the illustration that catches the eye. Most use block colours and cut out shapes to form the designs. Having originally joined the Royal Air Force and being charged with cartographic work Eckersley was transferred to the Publicity Section of the Air Ministry, this allowed him to work from home and take commercial commissions again, for example from the General Post Office. In 1948 his contribution was recognised with the granting of an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to poster design. During the war the realisation of the posters ability to communicate complex messages was recognised, as propaganda messages were successfully conveyed by posters and mass media was developed. After the war commissions for government posters reduced and, due to rationing and financial strain, commercial advertising was still restricted. However, Eckersley was able to gain commissions from new sources such as Gillette and old sources such as the General Post Office. He also did some work as a book illustrator, for example illustrating his wife's book Cat O'Nine Lives in 1946.

In 1954 Eckersley joined the London College of Printing (LCP, now named London College of Communication) in order to teach undergraduates. Here he established the first undergraduate courses in graphic design in Britain. He was Head of Design at the College from 1957 until 1977. Whilst at the College he designed posters to inform staff and students, for example one reminds students to return overdue library books. Eckersley also continued to complete commissioned work, adding The United Nations Children's Fund, the World Wide Fund for Nature, the National Business Calendar Design Awards and Cooks to his list of clients. Therefore, Eckersley was both a practioner and a teacher, thus allowing his designs and teaching to remain relevant to changing audiences.

Eckersley was one of the foremost poster designers and graphic communicators of the last century, who combined practice with education[1]. In addition to poster making and book illustration he also produced magazine covers (for example for The Queen) and logos. His designs often employ an abstract like quality and collage to convey their message but whatever the technique Eckersley's designs have one common factor: they bring together text and pictures to relate complex messages in a direct way. The range of companies who commissioned both the Eckersley-Lombers partnership and Eckersley individually reflects the wide appeal of their/his striking designs: Shell-Mex; British Petroleum; the British Broadcasting Corporation; London Transport; the Ministry of Information (from 1946 the Central Office of Information); the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA); Austin Reed; the General Post Office; Gillette; The United Nations Children's Fund; the World Wide Fund for Nature; the National Business Calendar Design Awards; Cooks; British Leprosy Relief Association; National Bus Company; London College of Printing; the International Wildlife Film and Television Festival; the Inner London Education Authority; City and Guilds; Imperial War Museum; and advertising agency, WS Crawford. He also designed posters for events and seasons for example, one for a seminar Eckersley gave at the Grafiska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, in 1960.

Tom Eckersley retained copies of many of his posters and examples of his original artwork; these form the equivalent of sketches for the working poster maker. Eckersley used these when teaching, as well as a personal reference. The posters were kept at his home and as such formed a working archive. In addition to retaining examples of his published posters Eckersley also produced and retained posters that he had designed purely for personal enjoyment, such as a series of film posters that depicted the faces of Hollywood movie greats that were only published on a small scale for events like exhibitions of his work.

Eckersley died in 1997, two years after a retrospective of his work was exhibited at the London College of Printing (now called the London College of Communication), this was complemented by a written review that credits Eckersley as having transformed graphic design in the UK.
TE/4/2/8Winsor and Newton
TE/2/3/718th Annual Dinner and Social Evening menu
TE/2/3/411th Annual Dinner and Social Evening menu
TE/1/14/ivPlants in danger
TE/4/1/7/iCat O'Nine Tails illustrated page
TE/4/1/7/vCat O'Nine Tails illustrated page
TE/2/1/6/viiNational Business Calendar Awards 1983
TE/1/5National Savings Bank posters
TE/4Magazine, book and newspaper work
TE/3/4/3Head collage
TE/2/1/2/5'Looking Back' poster
TE/4/1/7/xvCat O'Nine Tails illustrated page
TE/1/20Eckersley posters for exhibitions of his own work
TE/5/5/iiPhotographic portrait of Tom Eckersley
TE/2/1/2/2'London Chapel of Private Press Printers' poster
TE/4/1/7/xivCat O'Nine Tails illustrated page
TE/2/3/9Children's Christmas party programme
TE/4/5/1/iTootal Advertisement
TE/2/3/10Bull card
TE/4/5Point of sale work
TE/4/1/3The Queen magazine cover
TE/1/19/4Apparitions exhibition poster
TE/2/1/6/iNational Business Calendar Awards 1977
TE/1/28International Council of Graphic Design Associates card
TE/2/1/6/xivNational Business Calendar Awards 1993
TE/2/1/6/xviNational Business Calendar Awards 1995
TE/4/2/14Shield Alloys Ltd
TE/1/19Exhibition posters for other artists work
TE/1/7/16Associated-Rediffusion poster
TE/2/1/2Exhibition posters
TE/4/2/4/ii'Lovely day for a Guinness'
TE/2/1/6/xvNational Business Calendar Awards 1994
TE/1/22Ministry of Labour and National Service
TE/4/1/5Sales Appeal magazine cover
TE/1/20/10/iiDecades 1935-75 retrospective
TE/2/1/6/xNational Business Calendar Awards 1989
TE/2/1/6/viiiiNational Business Calendar Awards 1987
TE/1/6Joint Commissions
TE/2/1/6/xiNational Business Calendar Awards 1990
TE/2/3/12Children's Christmas party programme
TE/4/2/17Porto [?]
TE/2/2/5Theft advice posters
TE/4/2/3Chance Brothers Ltd
TE/1/12/iEuropean Resistance to Nazi Germany 1939-1945
TE/1/22/1Condemn Them
TE/1/2/1/i'Please pack parcels very carefully'
TE/3/1/4Tenpin bowling painted collage
TE/1/9/xiCeremonial London
TE/2/1/2/6'Post Office 1930-1960' exhibition poster
TE/2/3/16Annual Dinner and Social Evening Invite and Menu
TE/3/4/1Viaduct collages
TE/2/1/6/viNational Business Calendar Awards 1982
TE/2/1/1College Printing Historical Society posters
TE/2/1Event posters
TE/4/2/7/i'Good mornings begin with Gillette'
TE/1/4/3'POSB investment account'
TE/4/1/4Silkscreen magazine cover
TE/1/7/12Eno's 'Fruit Salt'
TE/4/1/7/xiiiCat O'Nine Tails illustrated page
TE/1/7/11/iiD-Day Museum Portsmouth
TE/3/1/3Conquistador profile
TE/2/1/1/5'The Wonderful Story of the Printing Press' poster
TE/2/1/6/vNational Business Calendar Awards 1981
TE/1/17/iiArtshow 76
TE/1/21/9Take the Right Steps
TE/2/1/6/iiNational Business Calendar Awards 1978
TE/2/2/4'Urgent please return that library book' poster
TE/2/1/3/iiiAnnual dinner and social evening three
TE/2/1/6/xviiNational Business Calendar Awards 1976
TE/1/22/5Take Warning Wear Goggles
TE/2/1/2/1'Expose' poster
TE/1/7Single Commissions
TE/5/1Tom Eckersley retrospective
TE/2/3/512th Annual Dinner and Social Evening menu
TE/1/19/1Tom Evans photographic exhibition poster
TE/5/5/ivPhotographic portrait of Tom Eckersley
TE/2/1/6/xiiNational Business Calendar Awards 1991
TE/1/7/7Oxfam poster
TE/1Commercial advertising work
TE/4/1/7/viiCat O'Nine Tails illustrated page
TE/2London College of Printing work
TE/1/13/iiWildscreen 86
TE/3/4/5Blue and gold collages
TE/5/5/vPublicity poster
TE/1/25Headed/letterhead stationery
TE/4/1/7/iiCat O'Nine Tails illustrated page
TE/4/2/13London Transport
TE/2/3/8Special luncheon in honour of the Principal menu
TE/1/27Porto logo
TE/1/29The Times
TE/2/1/6/iiiNational Business Calendar Awards 1979
TE/5/3Paul Eckersley work
TE/2/1/6/viiiNational Business Calendar Awards 1986
TE/4/2/4/i'Lovely day for a Guinness'
TE/4/1/7'Cat O'Nine Tales' book illustrations
TE/4/1/7/viiiCat O'Nine Tails illustrated page
TE/2/1/3/iAnnual dinner and social evening one
TE/2/3/11Tiger cards
TE/4/1/7/viiiiCat O'Nine Tails illustrated page
TE/4/1/7/xCat O'Nine Tails illustrated page
TE/5/5/iPhotographic collage
TE/1/12/iiImperial War Museum [proof copy]
TE/1/19/2Polish Graphic Art Exhibition poster
TE/1/20/2Grafiska Institutets exhibition poster
TE/1/17/iiiIn Pursuit of Excellence in Primary Education
TE/1/4/2Investment accounts
TE/2/1/3/viiiiAnnual dinner and social evening nine
TE/1/12Imperial War Museum posters
TE/1/7/8City and Guilds poster
TE/1/24Royal Society of Arts menu
TE/5/5Photographic Portraits
TE/1/20/9/iEckersley and Kessell portrait
TE/1/2/1/iv'Please pack parcels very carefully'
TE/4/1/7/xiiCat O'Nine Tails illustrated page
TE/1/20/10/iPosters and other graphic work
TE/1/17/iGraphic Design Works
TE/1/14/iWWF 25th Anniversary
TE/2/3/1514th Banquet and Social Evening invite
TE/2/1/5Open house posters
TE/2/3Invites and cards
TE/4/2/9Artist Partners'
TE/5/2'Family Furrows'
TE/5Personal books and items
TE/4/2/19Egg Marketing Board
TE/2/3/13Pink elephant card
TE/4/2/15Decca Record Company
TE/1/2/3Post early
TE/2/1/3/viiAnnual dinner and social evening seven
TE/1/19/5Andre Kertesz exhibition poster
TE/1/16/ivLondon Midland Express Freight
TE/1/2General Post Office instructional posters
TE/4/2/4/iii'After work Guinness'
TE/1/8Gillette posters
TE/1/2/2'Detector van here your TV licensed?'
TE/1/2/4'It's time to be buying your Christmas gifts for posting over seas'
TE/2/1/6/xiiiNational Business Calendar Awards 1992
TE/1/4/1'grow up with it.....'
TE/1/7/9Birds of the World Series poster
TE/1/5/3'Whatever you do we're your kind of bank'
TE/1/5/5'Money in store...'
TE/1/9/ivLondon Transport Collection
TE/1/7/1Seven Seas poster
TE/1/7/11D-Day Museum poster
TE/1/7/4'The King's Troop'
TE/1/7/6UNICEF [United Nations Children's Fund] poster
TE/1/7/15International Tourist Year poster
TE/1/7/5Concorde poster
TE/1/7/13Foreign Office poster, United Nations Day
TE/1/16/iiRailway poster
TE/1/16/iiiHoliday haunts
TE/1/21Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents
TE/1/19/7Weekend Living exhibition poster
TE/1/17/vArt for Pleasure
TE/1/20/4Newcastle Upon Tyne Polytechnic exhibition poster
TE/1/20/10/iiiFifty years of poster design for London Transport
TE/1/20/1Maidstone College of Art exhibition poster
TE/1/20/5Oxford Polytechnic exhibition poster
TE/1/20/6Past and Present exhibition poster
TE/1/20/7Yale Center for British Art exhibition poster
TE/1/20/9Camden Arts Centre exhibition
TE/1/4Post Office Savings Bank posters
TE/1/4/4Post Office Savings Bank
TE/1/5/2'Anyone aged 7 or over can open his own'
TE/1/15Crisis poster and items
TE/1/7/14National Bus Company poster
TE/1/10Pakistan International Airlines posters
TE/1/19/6The Art of Persuasion exhibition poster
TE/1/18Layton Student Awards poster
TE/1/19/3Selling the Sea exhibition poster
TE/1/16British Railways posters
TE/3/4/2Celtic cross collage
TE/1/20/3Deutsches Plakat Museum exhibition poster
TE/1/20/8London Transport Museum exhibition poster
TE/1/20/10Tom Eckersley Restrospective Posters
TE/1/26BPIF [British Printing Industries Federation] Marketing Innovation Award entry booklets
TE/1/22/6Wipe It Up
TE/1/21/8Cyclists Keep Them Clean
TE/1/22/10Open Door For Germs
TE/1/21/7Children About?
TE/1/21/2Get First Aid at Once
TE/1/22/8Not to Return to Work
TE/1/21/6You Are Being Followed
TE/1/22/2Asking for Trouble
TE/1/21/12Broken Rungs Cause Broken Limbs
TE/1/21/11Replace Covers Prevent Falls
TE/2/1/1/2'Fox Talbot to Fred Ives' poster
TE/2/1/4Greetings 1983 poster
TE/2/1/1/4'Paper making in Britain' poster
TE/2/1/1/1'100 Years Of Printing Education' poster
TE/1/22/7Stack Safely
TE/1/22/9Roll Them Up Its Safer
TE/2/1/1/3'JH Mason Scholar-Printer 1875-1951' poster
TE/2/1/2/3'Letters at Work' poster
TE/2/1/2/4'Equus' poster
TE/2/1/3/viiiAnnual dinner and social evening eight
TE/2/1/3/viAnnual dinner and social evening six
TE/1/4/4/ii'a good target a good balance'
TE/2/1/5/iiLCP Open Days
TE/2/2Informational posters
TE/2/1/5/iiiOpen Week
TE/2/3/613th Annual Dinner and Social Evening menu
TE/2/2/3Health and safety posters
TE/2/3/22nd Annual Dinner and Social Evening menu and invite
TE/2/3/11st Annual Dinner and Social Evening menu
TE/3/1/1Zebra profile
TE/3/4/4Bird collage
TE/4/1/6The Director magazine cover
TE/4/1Magazine and book covers
TE/5/4/iiiKeaton poster
TE/5/5/iiiPhotographic portrait of Tom Eckersley and Mary Kessell
TE/4/5/2Books on sport
TE/4/1/7/ivCat O'Nine Tails cover
TE/4/2/10Layton Service
TE/4/1/7/viCat O'Nine Tails illustrated page
TE/1/5/1Investment account
TE/1/1HM Stationery Office posters
TE/1/2/1'Please pack parcels very carefully'
TE/1/3General Post Office promotional posters
TE/1/6/1Austin Reed poster
TE/1/6/2Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents poster
TE/1/7/2Ministry of Housing and Local Government poster
TE/1/7/3Museum of London
TE/1/11Lepra [British Leprosy Relief Association] posters
TE/1/14WWF[Worldwide Wildlife Fund] posters
TE/1/17/ivThree Decades of Artists from inner London's art school
TE/1/21/1Sound tools - safer working
TE/1/21/4A Safe Holiday
TE/1/21/5You Bought Him a Bicycle
TE/1/21/10A Childs Life May Depend on Your Brakes
TE/1/22/3Prevent Loose Heads
TE/1/22/4Use a Bad Handle/Stand from Under
TE/1/23The British Aluminium Co Ltd
TE/2/1/3Annual dinner and social evening posters
TE/2/1/6National Business Calendar Award posters
TE/2/2/1New course information poster
TE/2/2/2Student service posters
TE/2/3/34th Annual Dinner and Social Evening menu
TE/2/3/145th Annual Dinner and Social Evening menu
TE/3Original artwork
TE/3/1/2Design for 'European Resistance to Nazi Germany 1939-1945'
TE/4/1/1Book covers
TE/4/1/2MTE [Motor Trade Executive] magazine covers
TE/4/2Magazine and newspaper advertisements and flyers
TE/4/2/1Pennbrite Offset
TE/4/2/2British Railways advert and booklets
TE/2/1/3/vAnnual dinner and social evening five
TE/4/2/11Travel and Industrial Development Association flyer
TE/4/2/12Leonhard Frank
TE/4/2/18General Post Office
TE/4/3Newspaper cuttings
TE/4/4Underground designs
TE/1/7/10International Planned Parenthood Foundation/Habitat poster
TE/4/1/7/xiCat O'Nine Tails illustrated page
TE/2/1/6/ivNational Business Calendar Awards 1980
TE/1/13/ivWildscreen 90
TE/1/13/iiiWildscreen 88
TE/1/13/iWildscreen 84
TE/1/13/vWildscreen 92
TE/1/2/1/iii'Please pack parcels very carefully'
TE/1/14/iiiOcean World
TE/1/14/vHelp save our world
TE/1/14/viiAfrican jigsaw
TE/1/14/viWorking for the survival of the living world
TE/1/14/viiiMan needs rainforest too
TE/1/20/9/iiEckersley and Kessell poster
TE/1/16/iMind that door
TE/1/4/2/i'Two strings to your bow'
TE/2/1/5/iTom Eckersley his graphic work
TE/1/13Wildscreen posters
TE/1/4/4/iii'for growing needs...'
TE/1/2/1/v'Properly packed parcels please'
TE/1/3/iPost Office Guide
TE/1/3/iiPost Office Guide: Charges and services
TE/1/2/3/i'Travel early shop early post early'
TE/1/2/3/ii'Post early for Christmas'
TE/1/4/4/iv'Just in case...'
TE/1/4/2/ii'Get a good start'
TE/1/10/i'fly PIA Boeing 707 to GENEVA'
TE/1/4/4/v'begin saving for me'
TE/1/7/8/iCity and Guilds Centenary 1878-1978
TE/1/10/ii 'fly PIA Boeing 707 to LONDON'
TE/1/4/4/i'put your money to work to return with interest'
TE/2/2/5/i'Stealing: Dont leave valuables around'
TE/2/2/5/ii'Keep an eye on valuables: Don't leave them around'
TE/1/7/11/iD-Day Museum Portsmouth
TE/5/4/iStars poster
TE/4/1/7/iiiCat O'Nine Tails illustrated page
TE/4/2/7/ii'Good mornings begin with Gillette'
TE/2/1/3/iiAnnual dinner and social evening two
TE/1/12/iiiImperial War Museum
TE/4/5/1/iiTootal Advertisement
TE/1/17Inner London Education Authority posters
TE/1/9/iCutty Sark
TE/1/9/ixSee London By Bus
TE/1/9/viFor Property Lost
TE/1/9/viiiWe're Here To Help
TE/1/7/8/iiCity and Guilds Centenary 1878-1978
TE/1/9/viiExact Fare Helps The Conductor
TE/1/7/13/iUnited Nations Day
TE/1/8/iGood mornings begin with Gillette
TE/1/8/iiAll over the world - Good mornings begin with Gillette
TE/1/9/iiVictoria Line - Cut travelling time across London
TE/1/9/vCentral Line Extensions
TE/1/9/xThe London Museum
TE/1/7/13/iiUnited Nations Day
TE/1/9/iiiExtension of the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow Airport
TE/1/11/ihelp Lepra fight Leprosy
TE/1/11/iiiLeprosy isolates [magazine spot]
TE/1/11/iihelp Lepra fight Leprosy [proof]
TE/1/9Transport for London
TE/1/2/1/ii'Please pack parcels very carefully'
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