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  • davidwills 1:44 pm on June 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Elvis Costello, , Imperial Bedroom, , , ,   

    Barney Bubbles – Waxing Lyrical 

    A waxing moon might be considered a good choice of icon to help sell a circular slab o’ vinyl (wax, vinyl, geddit?). That probably wasn’t the thought Barney had when he did this greysome poster for Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom LP though, but you never quite know…

    Elvis Costello Imperial Bedroom poster - by Barney Bubbles 1982

    Elvis Costello Imperial Bedroom poster – by Barney Bubbles 1982

    ‘Barney was a ‘cutter’ nutter.
    I recall being in a corridor at Twickenham Art School and Fulcher (AKA Barney’) was rolling his shirt sleeve sleeve down. For some reason, I forget how it came about, but he told me that he and some other guys liked to cut themselves with razors or burn their arms with cigarettes, “You wouldn’ understand.” he said. So true. This was especially macabre considering how, much later, he killed himself by plastic bag after having expertly slashed his own face.

    Incidentaly, our good friend Chris Higson may have been a inflluence, his face was totally disfigured after being practiced on by burn surgeons during the second German war, Higson had caught fire with a paper bag on his head.

  • davidwills 3:49 pm on November 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Elvis Costello, , , , promo, proof, , ,   

    Barney Bubbles – Got Proof? 

    Welcome again readers to the magic theatre of Barney Bubbles. Here for the first time ever – and for your continued viewing delight – we have a previously hidden treasure, gather ’round as I explain… Shown above on the left is a rare proof of a poster Barney designed for Elvis Costello’s LP ‘Get Happy’ in 1980. See how it uses yellow, red and black; an early colour test (printed in small numbers and not even trimmed) later abandoned in favour of the main print run’s orange, mauve and black. No longer just an X on the map, but found, dug up and shared!

    Images kindly donated by Barney historians R&M.

    • Willi 8:05 pm on December 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      never a dull bub ble

  • davidwills 6:59 pm on November 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Elvis Costello, Get Happy, , , , , Prog Rock, Psychedelic, , Roadhawks   

    Barney Bubbles – Progressive's Progressives 

    What is this cornucopia of visual soda-pop we see below I hear you thirsty readers ask. It’s several Barney Bubbles posters, each shown in their successive stages of printing. Gasp in delight as you observe the inks being added one-by-one to create the final artistic vision. Pics hunted out by Barney boffins R&M (yes, them again) and shared here for your delight. Labels have been added to the pics to explain the ink build-up. Stay tuned for more inky tales…

    The colors in the progressives were borrowed from the Victorian era original copy of the Encyclopedia of Design and Decoration, 1885 or so, that I have mentioned before. Barney re-ownershipped the book when it was decomissioned from Twickenham art school use, and regularly used the multiplicity of extraordinary color combinations shewn therein in his works. The color-combination for the first Hawkwind poster was from a Moorish fabric design. The book was printed in something like 32 self-colors, some of which I’m sure were vegetable derived. The book is now worth a lot in the original printing.

    Progressive print stages of Barney Bubbles Hawkwind poster. 1970s.

    Progressive print stages of Barney Bubbles Hawkwind poster. 1970s.

    Progressive print stages of Barney Bubbles Elvis Costello poster. 1980s.

    • D.Cheema 10:01 pm on November 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Thirsty work!

  • davidwills 6:31 pm on November 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: andre the giant, , , Barrack Obama, , Elvis Costello, giant, , , , obey, obey the giant, , , , Shepard Fairey, , Street Art,   

    Obey The Bubbles 

    Welcome thrill-seekers to an impromptu Barney Bubbles / Shepard Fairey mash-up. Made possible by reshuffling some of Shepard Fairey’s LPs that appear as part of his current exhibition in London. Cunningly created onsite by my London correspondents R&M.

    All “Shepard who”? He’s the Obey Giant guy; Barrack Obama’s Hope street artist of choice.

    Show is at The Stolen Space Gallery, The Old Truman Brewery, Off Brick Lane, London E1. Closes on November 4th.

  • davidwills 8:18 pm on November 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Elvis Costello, , ,   

    Barney Bubbles – Are Y’ Courtin’? 

    Barney Bubbles Chilli Willi sticker (courtesy R and M)

    Here we see Barney Bubbles in cheap and cheerful mode, rapidographing up an image with references.

    There’s Walt Disney’s Pluto’s bent ears – but with four fingers and thumb style hands, deliberately non-Ub Ewarks-like (Ub was the originator of the Disney three fingered hands).

    The Harris Tweed jackets are amusing, each with their own weave. Improbably for a time of experiment in all things garment, we were still wearing such things back then, a tweedy jacket with elbow patches being useful for its pockets. In ’73 I was featured in the Times on the fashion page doing a layered clothing strip tease in Covent Garden by Ed Bell, in which I believe I was wearing two such jackets as well as an overcoat or two, and many underlayers.

    Talking of layered clothing, it was Barney, back in his ‘Colin Fulcher’ days who preached the no-underpants style of dressing, with a view to avoid the presumably unseemly seam lines viewable through skin-tight denim trousers (OK, ‘Levi’s’) that he shrank wearing them in the bath so he said (I don’t believe he did). This was a person at Conran Design inspired piece of fashion sense.

    The border lines are drawn sharp (real sharp!), in contrast to his oft-used wiggly jagged line that was deliberate and not the product of a shaky hand. His ‘shaky hand’ drawn line was evident in the drawings he did for the Book of Egg Cookery in 1967, but which I in my innocence redrew, much to his annoyance.

    Hand lettered, the type seems to vary in weight with ‘Chilli Willi’ perversely appearing lighter, I wonder if that was intentional? It was quite likely a product of not particularly caring if it was or wasn’t, just the way it came out of his fingers.

    The line up of jolly chaps is a tip of the hat to Music Hall’s ounce of flash and wit, which influenced him in his BBC radio Light Programme Arthur Askey “Are y’ courtin’?” mode. He did enjoy that pounding the boards scene.

    • davidwills 10:45 pm on November 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Didn’t notice afore, but I like how the Chilli Pepper closest to us has two ears, but to simplify matters the other four have only one ear apiece.

  • davidwills 11:22 pm on July 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Elvis Costello   

    Just read in Barry Miles book on Elvis Costello that the song ‘Alison’, was written about ‘Mary’, which is contrary to what Barney Bubbles/Colin Fulcher (the designer of Costello’s early albums) had told me in 1983, when he said it referred to our mutual friend, Alison, the cffice temp at Conran Design in 1967. Maybe the song used her name – but was not written about her. But hey, what the f’ do I know?

  • davidwills 1:28 am on July 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Elvis Costello, , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Many of Colin Fulcher’s (AKA Barney Bubblles) album covers to be seen 

    I just found this
    Which means it’s probably been around a while. ‘Tis a view of much of the Colin Fucher (AKA Barney Bubbles) ouvre, I could correct one or two things in the biography, but a it’s good show and worth a visit.
  • davidwills 11:20 pm on June 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Elvis Costello, F Beat, Hops, ian mclagan, , Jim Bunker, , , , , Strongbow, Twickenham Art College   

    A few observations

    I’ve been recalling that graphic wiz Colin Fulcher (AKA Barney Bubbles) in 1959 (or it may have been before art school in 1958, possibly could be) worked with his Twickenham art school friends, Roy Burge, Bax (1st name ?), and Jim Bunker in the Kent hop yards picking the ingredients to flavor beer. This is/was a traditional summer job of gypsies and their caravans and London Eastenders who camp, or used to, in growers’ tents or modified old WW1 prisoner of war shacks.

    If he didn’t have all the three Bs with him in the hop fields, I know for certain that he did pick hops and told me about it. I have a feeling he got the idea for the job from his dad, who may have been an Eastender hisself.

    Fulcher said he didn’t get along with the other ‘traditional’ workers, they probably picked on him because he was not of their ilk and easily riled. The living conditions were awful, cold hard beds and lousy food. But he did like the fact it was a real working class hero sort of experience. They had “a regular knees-up” of an evening “round the camp fire” said Fulcher. The Eastender pearly kings and queens may have put on a show too
    After the Hop picking, Bunker, Burge and Fulcher went off to the Norfolk Broads and looned about. Next year they went to Cornwall and King Arthur’s whatsit? Tintagel Castle.

    His three friends, Burge, Bunker and Bax were the impetus for him to find a name beginning with B, which gave rise to the idea for ‘Barney’ but which he didn’t start to use use ’till 1966. The ‘Bubbles’ was even later, in ’67.

    Bax left school fairly early, Jim B went on to be art ed of Mayfair, perhaps he might contact us. Roy Burge (see Inspector Burge Investigates) went into video and seems to prefer being silent, most likely because Fulcher/Bubbles most definitely wasn’t the ‘sweet’ person that some have described him as in this weblog, and he treated Burge to the skilled malevolent slow burn of Fulcher Fury. Having experienced the gnarly acid of the Fulcher wrath myself I can see why Burge may prefer to forget about it. As for me I got over it easily enough with passing time, although the full Fulcher Fury did sting when it happened to me in in 1968.

    Barney’s relationship with beer was mixed, he hated the idea of business meetings in pubs, but designed the Strongbow Beer label, was into PubRock – but mostly disliked drinking the stuff, acid was his brew.

    In Marianne Faithfull’s excellent bio she talks of the misogyny of the ‘boys club’ rockers and ain’t that true, In one of Barneys letters to me (see the post on it somewhere back in the older posts) he mentions “getting over misogyny” or similar, and I think that although he may have been surrounded by beautiful women, they were a problem for him. Lady Wordsworth recently described how at school he was a “sharp mod,” but when she met him later in about ’65 at an art galley he appeared to be a “slow druggy.” He told me at the time he did that act just to annoy her. Yup Barney was a real piece of work all right.

    I just read that often the principal reaon for suicide is to get back at those who have crossed you and, boy, can I see that at work in Barney’s case, watch out Elvis and jake! (Not to mention a certain author who is haunted by the ghost of Barney, taunting him at night with snidely put-downs for printing such a bodge job rip-off of the Muleskinners ‘Lorry’ T-shirt design.

    Moron the ‘re-created’ T-shirt thing – I’m riled. Here’s what I have to say about it.

    This attempted reproduction of the award winning and brilliant Muleskinners ‘Lorry’ T-shirt by some Johny-come-lately rip-off person was a flaccid dry-bob cock-up.

    The type was the wrong, the logo of the circle and heart graphic was wrong, and wrong was the fact it was done at all.

    More wrongnesses are that it was printed in white text on a black t-shirt whereas the Lorry t-shirt, as photographed by Barney, was black text on a white T-shirt, and when it appeared on the final printed poster it appeared as white and orange text on a blue t-shirt.

    Out of respect for Barney’s memory and his original intentions, you might think that any ‘re-creation t-shirt’ would be done in either one of these two ‘original’ ways, with white and orange text on a blue t-shirt being the more sympathetic way.

    So why did the ‘recreation t-shirt’ get done in white text on a black t-shirt? Why? I think the thing was based on a black and white picture of the muleskinners poster instead of a colour one, with cheapness of production and modern convention as futher unimaginative reasons.

    Of course it may all have been a ruse to change the design so that any copyright claim by whoever owns the copyright can’t sue, but that just shows how pig-ignorant the perp is of copyright law. So there. Grrr.

  • davidwills 8:31 am on April 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , art graphic design, , bruce thomas, , , Elvis Costello, elvis costello and the attractions, Gone In The Morning, LP Rock, , , Spring, Stained Glass, Sutherland Brothers, , Tulips   

    Barney Bubbles Tulips – An Open and Shut Case 

    Well regarded Barney Bubbles historians RandM (or for those unfamiliar, Rebecca and Mike) have forwarded this seasonal contribution from their Barney symbolism files, for which we are truly thankful… thank you folks!

    Hi David,

    Well, it’s Spring-time, so we thought you might like us to make a Spring-related contribution to your blog.

    In 1972 Barney Bubbles designed the cover to Quiver’s LP ‘Gone In The Morning’ in a faux-marquetry style (although the stained glass in the centre of the design was on real glass, but sadly got accidentally smashed many years ago). We’ve commented before that the flowers on the front of this LP are tulips, but maybe now is a good time to dig a little deeper (if you’ll pardon the gardening pun) into the symbolism of them.

    Quiver Gone In The Morning LP 1972 - Designed by Barney Bubbles

    Tulips (spring-blooming perennials) grow from bulbs, and these bulbs can be seen towards the bottom of the design on the front and back of the LP. Tulips respond to the daily rhythm of light and dark, causing them to open and close, and so on the back of the LP Barney has shown the tulips closed (accompanied by a photo of a partially obscured sun, presumably a sunrise), and on the front of the LP has shown the tulips open (accompanied by the fully lit stained glass design). The tulips’ opening and closing  – or coming and going – with light and dark is a reference to the LP’s title ‘Gone In The Morning’. It doesn’t stop there though, the flowers and bulbs also represent arrows (the bulbs are the arrowheads and the flowers are the flights), a reference to the band’s name Quiver.
    Barney’s work is like a visual cryptic crossword, but a crossword that doesn’t help by letting you know how many letters are in the answer!
    The band’s bassist Bruce Thomas subsequently played with Elvis Costello and The Attractions, which regular readers of your blog will know Barney did a lot of work for too.
    Best wishes,
  • davidwills 9:58 pm on March 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Elvis Costello, , , ,   

    Barney Bubbles and Barney Google and Barney Rubbles: What’s the connection? 

    I recently played a compendium of  Vaudeville tunes and heard for the first time a song with a catchy hook called, “Barney Google with those great big googly eyes” which  Barney Bubbles may have been familiar with, he certainly had the googly eyes to match. (Possibly this song was an  antecedent of the search engine Google’s name too.)  He never mentioned that song – but I know he was a fan of  ‘Barney Rubble’  from the Flintstones (he would have been ‘Flintstoned’ no doubt) and their phrase “Yabbadabadoo !” which he frequently used.

    .. And here ladies and gints, is the song itself, which seems to imply carnal love of a horse, nabbed from the Wikki entry for ‘Barney Google’, who was the eponymous character from the strip cartoon out of Chicago begun in 1911:

    Who’s the most important man this country ever knew?
    Who’s the man our Presidents tell all their troubles to?
    No, it isn’t Mr. Bryan and it isn’t Mr. Hughes;
    I’m mighty proud that I’m allowed a chance to introduce:
    Barney Google—with the goo-goo-googly eyes,
    Barney Google—had a wife three times his size;
    She sued Barney for divorce,
    Now he’s sleeping with his horse!
    Barney Google—with the goo-goo-googly eyes!
    Who’s the greatest lover that this country ever knew?
    Who’s the man that Valentino takes his hat off to?
    No, it isn’t Douglas Fairbanks that the ladies rave about;
    When he arrives, who makes the wives chase all their husbands out?
    Barney Google—with the goo, goo, googly eyes,
    Barney Google—bet his horse would win the prize;
    When the horses ran that day,
    Spark Plug ran the other way!
    Barney Google—with the goo-goo-googly eyes!
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