Derek Birdsall

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Derek Birdsall (born 1 August 1934) is an internationally renowned British graphic designer.


Early life

Birdsall was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in 1934 and attended The King's School, Pontefract, Wakefield College of Art and Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. [1] "At Central, Birdsall came under the influence of Anthony Froshaug, who – alongside Herbert Spencer and Edward Wright – taught his students the difference between beautiful lettering and typography proper, with its pre-eminent concerns of clarity, directness and, above all, textual legibility." Birdsall failed to earn a diploma, however, and began his career in design in the late 1950s and early 1960s.


Birdsall's career and fame were built on a variety of designs and commissions. During his long career—among much other work—Birdsall designed Penguin book covers and Pirelli calendars; he art-directed several magazines (including Nova and Mobil Oil's Pegasus; and he designed books for the Yale Center for British Art, the Tate, the V&A and the British Council and redesigned the Book of Common Prayer in 2000.

Penguin Books British publishing house

Penguin Books is a British publishing house. It was co-founded in 1935 by Sir Allen Lane, his brothers Richard and John, as a line of the publishers The Bodley Head, only becoming a separate company the following year. Penguin revolutionised publishing in the 1930s through its inexpensive paperbacks, sold through Woolworths and other high street stores for sixpence, bringing high-quality paperback fiction and non-fiction to the mass market. Penguin's success demonstrated that large audiences existed for serious books. Penguin also had a significant impact on public debate in Britain, through its books on British culture, politics, the arts, and science.

Pirelli & C. S.p.A. is a multinational company based in Milan, Italy, listed on the Milan Stock Exchange since 1922, with a temporary privatization period by the consortium led by the Chinese state-owned enterprise ChemChina. The company is the 5th largest tyre manufacturer behind Bridgestone, Michelin, Continental and Goodyear, and is focused on the consumer business. It is present in Europe, Apac, Latam, Meai, Nafta and C.I.S., operating commercially in over 160 countries. It has 19 manufacturing sites in 13 countries and a network of around 14,600 distributors and retailers.

<i>Nova</i> (UK magazine) British magazine

Nova, published from March 1965 to October 1975, was a thoughtful glossy title that created its own unique niche in the British consumer magazine market at the very moment when women's hemlines rose six inches above the knee. It has been described as "a politically radical, beautifully designed, intellectual women's magazine. In 1965 Nova discussed sex and the Pill, and epitomised the sophistication of London with its bold type and white space." For its day, Nova's agenda of journalistically taboo subjects included contraception, abortion, cancer, race, homosexuality, divorce and royal affairs, invariably boosted by stylish and provocative cover images, making it a rarity among magazines. It was Nova's courageous second editor, Dennis Hackett, together with visionary art director Harri Peccinotti, who swiftly established their magazine as an influential must-read for the movers and shakers of Swinging London, with men as well as the original target audience of women becoming devotees of its heady mixture of social issues and cutting-edge fashion and modern lifestyle features.

Alongside his practice in design, Birdsall also taught design at the Royal College of Art beginning in 1987. [1] Birdsall was the author of Notes On Book Design, published by Yale University Press in 2004.

Royal College of Art public research university in London, in the United Kingdom

The Royal College of Art (RCA) is a public research university in London, United Kingdom. The only entirely postgraduate art and design university in the world, it offers postgraduate degrees in art and design to students from over 60 countries. As of 2019, the RCA has placed first in the QS World University Rankings in the Art and Design subject area for five consecutive years.

Yale University Press university press associated with Yale University

Yale University Press is a university press associated with Yale University. It was founded in 1908 by George Parmly Day, and became an official department of Yale University in 1961, but it remains financially and operationally autonomous.

Personal life

He married in 1954 and has three sons and one daughter, including actor Jesse Birdsall. His daughter Elsa has followed him into the design industry.

Jesse Birdsall is an English actor, known for his role as Marcus Tandy in the BBC1 soap opera Eldorado, his role in the adventure series Bugs (1995–1999) as Nick Beckett, his role in "Footballers' Wives" as football manager Roger Webb between 2004 and 2006, and his role as Fraser Black in Hollyoaks.

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  1. 1 2 Myerson, Jeremy, "White space, black hat", Eye 9, Wordsearch Ltd, 1993.

Books and articles on Birdsall

<i>Eye</i> (magazine) British magazine

For the Toronto-based weekly see Eye Weekly.

Baseline magazine is a magazine devoted to typography, book arts and graphic design.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.