While best know for his written words, before he became a writer Len Deighton's was an accomplished graphic designers and stylist.
As Deighton himself has commented, his work as an artist shaped his work as author. He wrote as he would design, with a particular emphasis on description for example.
Len Deighton was at the centre of a time of revolution in art and design, as student and then as a writer. His pal Raymond Hawkey was a student with Deighton at the Royal College of Art and subsequently went on to design some of the most iconic book covers in publishing history, changing forever the scope of what a cover could do for a book, with his black and white photography and sparse, simple lettering.
In this section you'll find more information on the background to Ray Hawkey's designs for Deighton's books and their collaboration. Deighton, Hawkey and others were also to recognise the growing link between art and the commercial world such as in advertising.
The production of Ark magazine, the in-house journal for the Royal College of Art which subsequently became a commercial operation creating and designing a high end periodical on art, design and words, was something in which Len Deighton was involved and edited on a couple of occasions. Many of those who worked with Deighton on Ark and other projects went on themselves to become leading designers and artists.
Through his work designing book covers, his posters, his work inspiring other designers, his own distinctive drawing style and his acceptance of the commercial benefits of good design, Len Deighton can add design to writing and cookery as areas where he has had a significant influence on the development of these fields. Click on the images below to go to each section.
Take a look at examples of Deighton's own design work and the design of his books and films.
After graduating from art college, one of the areas of work Deighton specialised in - and was in demand for - was illustrating book covers, the most famous of which he designed was that for the UK first edition of Jack Kerouac's On the Road.
Check out the gallery below for examples of Deighton's book cover designs.
After graduating from art college, as an illustrator and designer Deighton worked freelance for many lifestyle and fashion magazines, such as Vogue and Good Housekeeping, providing illustrations and graphic designs to support their articles and features.
Click on the images below for examples of Deighton's design work with a number of magazines in the 1950s and 1960s.
A small cooking article featuring exclusive cookstrips created by Len Deighton for the magazine.
A half-page feature on sauces, using the cookstrip style in a new way.
A three-page feature showing the design of the latest style of chairs available in the shops, shown using Deighton's illustrations.
Three illustrations for an advertorial by a wineseller in London.
Two-page illustrations of the latest designs in swimsuits for this fashion magazine.
As well as working for magazines, Len Deighton spent some time as a design director for a number of advertising firms, including some in New York, where he worked for a period. Commercial illustration for advertising, catalogues and other business-to-business communications was a lucrative form of revenue for in-demand designers
Click on the images below for examples of Deighton's design work for commercial and advertising partners in the 1950s and 1960s.
For a number of years Deighton produced the design for their quarterly book catalogues.
This poster advertised trips outside of London on the Tube.
Len Deighton did a number of magazine advertisements for the Dutch company.
There have been two designers - and friends - with whom Deighton has worked extensively and who have in turn had a major influence on the success of his books and films, Raymond Hawkey and Arnold Schwartzman, both of whom went on to become internationally renowned designers in their own rights.
Hawkey was a friend and fellow design student who most famously introduced the white cover for The Ipcress File. Arnold Schwartzman is another contemporary with whom Deighton developed the Airshipwreck book and who went on to produce the stunning upgraded covers to Deighton's novels reissued by Harper Collins in the 2010s. In addition, art-school contemporary Adrian Bailey worked on some later covers (though few of the designs found their way to books), and artist Gordon Crabb did a number of designs which features on many paperback editions of Deighton's works in the 'seventies.
The galleries below provide examples of where these great designers have complemented Deighton's work.
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