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The English Riviera tourism posters

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Sep 23rd, 2018. Artwork published in
circa 1982
.
    The English Riviera tourism posters 1
    Source: http://www.johnsonbanks.co.uk License: All Rights Reserved.

    Torbay is a borough in Devon, England, […] spanning the towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, located around an east-facing natural harbour (Tor Bay) on the English Channel. A popular tourist destination with a tight conurbation of resort towns, Torbay’s sandy beaches, mild climate and recreational and leisure attractions have given rise to the nickname of the English Riviera. — Wikipedia

    In 1982, British graphic designer John Gorham (1937–2001) was commissioned to devise a poster for the English Riviera. His solution presents a detail of the scenery in a carefully defined color palette, echoing the style of travel posters made in the second quarter of the 20th century. The composition here is boiled down to the absolute essence: a sandy stripe for the beach, separated by a thin white line of spume from a turquoise rectangle for the sea, underneath a gradient from white to deep blue for the sky — Rothko meets Albers. In the foreground: The silhouette of a stylized Torbay palm tree. Not only is it perfectly centered, its crown is drawn with symmetrical leaves — this is the English Riviera. The type is Gill Sans (what else?) set in three stacked and justified lines of caps from the Light weight (first issued in 1931), with the names of the three towns joined by middle dots. Johnson Banks’ blog post about John Gorham suggests that this work of his became quite influential:

    His poster for the English Riviera unfortunately encouraged a whole generation of designers to pretend that they actually were 1930s poster artists.

    For those interested in Gorham and his work, see also Mike Dempsey’s article about his “local hero”.

    Gorham’s iconic poster spawned many variations and follow-ups. These were designed by David Hughes and others. Most of them maintained the combination of Gorham’s symmetrical palm tree and light Gill Sans. The website of the English Riviera Tourist Board used to have a dedicated page with a full list of the annual posters, from 1983 to 2004. Unfortunately the images are gone, but bloggers designatweeta and Torquay Palms reposted some of them. A selection is reproduced below.

    Pool, 1986. “One of several posters designed by David Hughes in this long-running campaign for The English Riviera.” — Anatomised
    Source: http://www.anatomised.com Anatomised. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Pool, 1986. “One of several posters designed by David Hughes in this long-running campaign for The English Riviera.” — Anatomised

    Beach huts, 1988
    Source: https://designatweeta.wordpress.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Beach huts, 1988

    Teacup, 1990
    Source: https://designatweeta.wordpress.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Teacup, 1990

    English Rose, 1991
    Source: https://www.pinterest.de License: All Rights Reserved.

    English Rose, 1991

    Snorkel, 1997
    Source: https://designatweeta.wordpress.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Snorkel, 1997

    Spring Breaks, 1992. From a series of seasonal ads featuring Bernhard Modern Bold Italic (ATF, 1938).
    Source: https://designatweeta.wordpress.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Spring Breaks, 1992. From a series of seasonal ads featuring Bernhard Modern Bold Italic (ATF, 1938).

    Autumn Breaks, 1992
    Source: https://designatweeta.wordpress.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Autumn Breaks, 1992

    Christmas Breaks, 1992
    Source: https://designatweeta.wordpress.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Christmas Breaks, 1992

    English Spoken Here, 1993. The script is Ariston extrafett (Berthold, 1936).
    Source: https://designatweeta.wordpress.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    English Spoken Here, 1993. The script is Ariston extrafett (Berthold, 1936).

    Little Differences, 1994
    Source: https://www.flickr.com Torquay Palms. License: CC BY-SA.

    Little Differences, 1994

    Diving Board, 1995
    Source: https://designatweeta.wordpress.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    Diving Board, 1995

    Camel, 1999. From a series of ads that showed John Gorham’s original poster in other places, from Egypt to Australia and Mars.
    Source: https://www.flickr.com License: CC BY-SA.

    Camel, 1999. From a series of ads that showed John Gorham’s original poster in other places, from Egypt to Australia and Mars.

    Uluru, 2004
    Source: https://www.flickr.com License: CC BY-SA.

    Uluru, 2004

    The current version (2018) features a weaker, asymmetric palm tree (or is fireworks?) in red and blue. The type is still in Gill Sans caps, but now in two weights, paired with Arial Rounded Bold, set on a wave.
    Source: http://www.englishrivierabid.co.uk License: All Rights Reserved.

    The current version (2018) features a weaker, asymmetric palm tree (or is fireworks?) in red and blue. The type is still in Gill Sans caps, but now in two weights, paired with Arial Rounded Bold, set on a wave.

    A variation of the original palm tree poster, spotted in 2012 outside Torquay Station.
    Source: https://www.flickr.com Jainbow. License: All Rights Reserved.

    A variation of the original palm tree poster, spotted in 2012 outside Torquay Station.

    Typefaces

    • Gill Sans
    • Bernhard Modern
    • Ariston
    • Arial Rounded

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    1 Comment on “The English Riviera tourism posters”

    1. Sep 23rd, 2018  10:18 pm

      John Gorham’s poster design was used for the cover art of Metronomy’s album The English Riviera from 2011.

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