plastic pre-Ono Spaniard

by Art Chantry:

if we know the name ‘robert freeman’ it’s because of his photos he took of the beatles from the years 1963-66, when he was essentially their house photographer. his images of the early “fab four” are the ones we best remember and the beatles pictures we think of as ‘iconic’. that alone may make him one one of the most viewed photographers who ever lived.

however, most of us don’t know about his other extensive work, especially his photgrpahy of numerous jazz greats. and almost NONE of us know about his graphic design work, even though we should. he was a damn fine graphic designer/typographer. for instance robert freeman ‘s photos graced the first FIVE beatles lp’s (the english version, which were mostly adapted to US markets). but, did you know he also DESIGNED those first five beatles records, too? no kidding. talk about iconic. these are probably the single most famous record covers ever designed. and nobody seems to know robert freeman designed them.

this little book of john lennon’s poetry (his first published collection) was published in 1965 by simon & schuster (side note: carly simon is the daughter of the simon in ‘simon & schuster.’) the book is lavishly illustrated with john lennon’s “spike millegan-esque” doodles – an admitted obvious influence. but that cover? and the book design (inside and out)? well, that was all robert freeman. he shot the cover photo, designed the cover collage and did all the lettering, typography and interior design (using lennon’s illustrations as line art images). it’s very memorable and one of the coolest little volumes of the mid-sixties.

so, robert freeman deserves a larger mention in design textbooks than just for his wonderful photos of the the beatles. this guy should be included alongside great of popular graphic design history.

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