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

Generation Z: what does the future hold?

Thu 05 | 03 | 15 by ILN

With technology changing at an ever-increasing rate, life is undoubtedly moving faster than ever – and no-one is better equipped to deal with it than the so-called Generation Z.

As the first true generation to grow up with the internet, Generation Z is defined as those typically born from early 1995 to 2001. This generation is the first to be completely submerged in the internet and have never known a time without it. They are very tech savvy – and are likely to have never picked up an encyclopedia.


Marketers must keep a close eye on tech-savvy Generation Z

It’s important that marketers take note of this generation as it will inevitably lead and shape patterns in purchasing products, services and interactions online. Business and media will have to listen to the needs of this generation and potentially mould themselves accordingly.

This generation is growing up fast and the length of “innocence” is steadily decreasing with the knowledge accessible at its fingertips. Having grown up amid major innovation and social change, Zs are inquisitive and globally aware. They understand news as it happens and the myriad ways of transmitting and communicating it.

Watch this space

These budding entrepreneurs, professionals and decision makers are likely to lead companies and conduct business in a different way from their parents or even Generation Y (the young adults, aged 21-35ish that came before them).

According to Mashable 

- 52% use YouTube and social media for research assignments

- 33% watch lessons online

- 20% read textbooks on tablets

- 32% work with classmates online

How can Generation Z help shape the future?

Research by agency Sparks & Honey  found that Generation Z makes up the largest population demographic and as Generation Z’s influence inevitably grows, marketers will be forced to adapt to engage this audience in new ways. For instance, those who are 19 and younger prefer social networks like Snapchat, Secret and Whisper, as, according to the research, a quarter of 13- to 17-year-olds have left Facebook since 2011. Marketers who are innovative and forward thinking are adapting already by increased usage of social media, learning apps and online shopping capabilities. For example, last year Paramount Pictures used secret-sharing site Whisper to promote its film Men, Women and Children.

As we watch our younger family and friends play with their tablets, its clear to see they are more savvy and adaptable to technology than we ever were.  It will be important for businesses to expand their methodologies. They will need to continue to respond to the different behaviour and speed of information that the next generation is exposed to.