True colours: setting the tone

Sun 07 | 06 | 15 by Brigitta Holmar

As a designer at ILN, one of the things I love most about my job is the power of colour. It plays a huge part in every aspect of my work. This year, several magazines have devoted whole issues to a single colour and I loved looking at their different takes on this subject.






Aston Martin Magazine, published by ILN, has been devoting its style features to a single shade that is a special Aston Martin paint colour, with Sunshine Yellow accessories featured in the next issue.


In the world of fashion, colour has enormous influence, reflecting not just seasonal trends, but also a designer’s personal feelings. Tomas Maier, creative director at Bottega Veneta, was using mood lifting colours (red, pink and orange) to brighten up autumn days in his 2016 pre-summer collection (below).


Colours Bottega jpeg

We associate brighter colours with the sunnier summer days, with cooler colours for winter. Burberry, for example, has very colourful accessories for spring/summer 2015, in contrast to its traditional, more neutral colour palette.

Trend forecasting organisations, such as WGSN and, predict forthcoming styles in fashion, as well as the colours that will be popular. When it comes to marketing products, most logos and branding communicate meaning through their colour. Research has shown that some of the world’s most powerful brands tend to lean towards either green/blue or red/orange tones. According to technology blogger Eric Dye: “Blue generally receives a cool, calm, trustworthy, knowledgeable response. The colour red, in contrast, is exciting, eye-catching, fast acting and powerful.”




survey carried out by Dulux Paints found that blue was the world’s favourite colour, and yellow the least favourite with only 5% of people. The survey also found that men and women increasingly disliked the colour orange as they get older ! And blue continues to be favourite with Dulux expecting its tropical blue to be one of its most popular colours in 2015.

Pantone is known across the world as a colour authority. Each year, it selects what it considers to be the colour of the year. This year, Marsala was the winner. When I first saw this colour, I was not immediately impressed, but when I imagine it used for luxury leather or silk textures, I can see how appealing this beautiful, deep Sicilian wine colour is – it is the perfect autumn colour.



According to Leatrice Eiseman, executive director, Pantone Color Institute®: “This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors. Marsala is a subtly seductive shade, one that draws us in to its embracing warmth.” Magazines such as InStyle (below) have certainly embraced the colour.



Pantone’s annual colour choices in previous years have ranged from tangerine tango to turquoise.


pantone colours


We all, of course, have favourite colours. Some just like the sheer beauty of their chosen favourites, while others believe they have a spiritual meaning. For example, in China red symbolises good fortune.

Last year, I attended a spiritual wedding during which the bride and groom celebrated with a ribbon ceremony. This is a beautiful way for a couple to make promises and vows to each other by binding their hands together with different coloured ribbons.

Each colour represents a part of the wedding vows:

Green: symbolises earth, representing the physical and material

Yellow: symbolises air, representing mental and intellectual

Red: symbolises fire, representing passion

Blue: symbolises water, representing emotion and love

White: symbolises spirit, representing the spiritual and philosophical


ribbon ceremony

Colours can give such a feel-good feeling that whole events are organised around them, such as the Holi One colour festival, where thousands of people dressed in white come together to enjoy music, dance, performance art – and being doused in brightly coloured powders. Originating in India, this memorable event now takes place across the world, from New Zealand to Casablanca.



And my own particular favourite colour? It is blue. I’m drawn to earthy colours like blue and green – it reminds me of the sea, the sky and the earth in general.


Categories: Design, Magazines, Marketing

Etched in the past: ILN engraver Brian Williams

Fri 08 | 05 | 15 by Patrick Wingrove
then and now

Brian Williams in 1951 and in 2015

I recently met former Illustrated London News engraver Brian Clifford Williams at his home in the Essex town of Billericay. An extremely pleasant and cheerful man, he immediately welcomed me with a warm handshake and a cup of tea, and we soon sat down to talk about the fascinating experiences he had working for ILN.

Brian, at the age of 15, found his first job at The Illustrated London News through his father, John Lionel Williams,  a “jobber” employed to bundle up magazines and do various other odd jobs. “I thought, Dad’s there, he’ll find something,” recalls Brian. “Sure enough, he did. He got me a job by chatting to his friends in the pub! That’s how it worked back then.”

Brian began working for The Illustrated London News as an errand boy, running messages, sweeping the floors, buying meat for the guys he worked with and, on one occasion, was sent to Scotland Yard to have an image for the magazine approved. He left a year later to begin an apprenticeship with Lascelles, the company that printed The Illustrated London News and its sister titles (known as the Great Eight publications).

As we talk, he transports himself back to the small printing factory on London’s Essex Street more than 60 years ago and recalls the constant and tremendous smell of vinegar and the scolding heat of the burners: “The images were burnt into copper plates with the help of Bunsen burners, ready to be transferred to that week’s edition of The Illustrated London News. They’d be cut on a guillotine to fit the pictures, and when finished with were washed in an acid bath ready to be printed again… You go back to Essex Street now and you wouldn’t believe that a factory was once there with this going on!”



An example of a copper-plate etching, given to us by Brian

Brian worked side by side with a team of specialists to ensure that The Illustrated London News and Great Eight publications were filled with magnificent etchings and photographs on a weekly basis. There were dozens of jobs at Lascelles and the factory roared with the mad rush of glass cleaners, camera operators, metal printers and managers.


Fred Collier, Fred Cottle, Henry Thicken, Bob Berry, Eric Kine, Brian Williams, Ted Bismire,  Tisshaw

Brian Williams, fourth from right, with his work colleagues at a company event

Brian also met a few celebrities while he was at Lascelles: “One day, they were making a film there – they liked the building’s doors, which were lovely. The guy being filmed was Dana Andrews, the famous 1940s actor. A while before that, I also met the actor Sam Kydd, who was a legend in his day.”

After years of working with Lascelles, Brian was called up for his National Service and served in Libya for more than a year: “I went into the Army and they told me I might be good as a guardsman. But I ended up in the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC), which was the unit responsible for keeping the British Army supplied with all its provisions. We called it the ‘Run Away Someone’s Coming’ army!”



Brian Williams in the Royal Army Service Corps

In 1958, Brian finished his time in the Army and left Lascelles a little while after that, finding employment at a different printing company. Although he loved his time with The Illustrated London News and Lascelles, he felt he had learned all he could and that it was time to move on. He got married in the same year he left Lascelles, has had several children and grandchildren, and will be celebrating his 80th birthday this month.




Categories: History, Magazines, People

Sphere in the Spring

Thu 02 | 04 | 15 by ILN

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Hot off the press, the spring issue of Sphere has landed in the office, including a bespoke cover shot exclusively for copies distributed at Baselworld, the annual international watch and jewellery fair in Switzerland.

Flick through the digital page-turner below to see the dedicated “Pulse” (watch and jewellery) section of the magazine, along with the latest trends in luxury travel and lifestyle from around the world.

Categories: Design, Magazines

Floral tributes: Shoreditch shopping

Tue 24 | 03 | 15 by Chris Hume

I love flowers in my home – and if I can’t get them fresh, I make do with a bit of home decoration!

I discovered a lovely shop in Shoreditch, House of Hackney. This luxury interiors store specialises in British-made prints and products steeped in tradition, but with a modern twist. It sells everything from cushions to clothing in a range of fabulous floral prints.


House of Hackney

Its print collections are inspired by the natural world and include everything from garden birds to sumptuous English roses.

Well worth a visit if you like flowers.




Categories: Fun Stuff

The power of the dot

Fri 13 | 03 | 15 by ILN

I can clearly remember the first time I noticed the impact a simple dot on a piece of paper could have. I must have been about nine years old and, as I stood next to a large advertising hording, I could see that the image was made from dots, lots of them arranged in a specific pattern to create a picture. This totally fascinated me and still does today. Little did I know then what a major role dots would play in my working life.

For the past 20 years, I have been working in the print industry, working alongside repro and printing companies in an effort to control and improve the simple dot on a page, to recreate amazing photography or stunning works of art.

In the late 19th century, when offset litho printing was in its infancy, the artist Georges Seurat was using dots and small patterns in his paintings to create stunning pictures. This method of painting became known as Divisionism or Chromoluminarism and was based on the theory that small patterns or dots arranged in a specific order would create a larger colour gamut than the traditional method of mixing different coloured pigments. Up close, his paintings were just a series of random dots of varying colours and sizes, but when viewed from a distance they transformed into beautiful neo-impressionist paintings.

One of Seurat’s paintings that illustrates this technique best is A Sunday afternoon on the island of La Grand Jatte (below). When viewed from a distance, the woman’s skirt appears to be purple, but under closer inspection you can see that it is made from many different colours and hues.



Many years later, in 1962, young artist Chuck Close graduated from the University of Washington in the US and embarked on a career creating what would become his signature style: photo-realism. This style uses a process he came to describe as “knitting”, where he created large canvases from Polaroids taken of models.

This method allowed Close to create intimate images, replicating the smallest details in the models’ faces (see Mark and Mark Unfinished, below). From a distance, these images were almost photographic, blurring the distinction between photography and art. It has been said that this style of placing ink on a canvas paved the way for the development of the inkjet printer.


A dot on it’s own is just that, but when combined with others, in a specific  (or even random) order, they can combine to become a thing of absolute beauty, which can inspire, excite and even bring a tear to the eye.

This strength in numbers not only works on a visible level, but can also be applied to our everyday lives. There’s something about that I like.



Categories: Art, Design, Magazines, People