Ladybird Books re-imagined by London College of Communication School of Design students

Ladybird Books


London College of Communication School of Design students are working with Ladybird books in their centenary year, a century after the first Ladybird book was published.

The students are exploring, celebrating and reinterpreting Vintage Ladybird’s rich heritage as part of a collaborative project and Ladybird has given them open access to their incredible artwork archive for the first time, enabling them to see the original illustrations first hand, in addition to having full access to the online archive. 

Over the next few months, the students will create contemporary, new or future-gazing designs that reimagines Ladybird in today’s world, using the archive as a starting point and selected designs will be exhibited at LCC as part of the 2015 London Design Festival in September.



Vintage Ladybird Art. Photo: UAL

Vintage Ladybird Art. Photo: UAL


“This is an exciting chance for our students to interpret and compare important visual representations from the past with the cultural and societal concerns of today. Not only does this project with Ladybird give our students a glimpse into a world of visual beauty, the Ladybird archive has stirred us to look at and debate the world around us,” said Paul Bowman, Course Leader, BA (Hons) Illustration and Visual Media.

“Establishing a relationship with London College of Communication during Ladybird’s centenary year was a high priority for Penguin Ventures,” commented Damian Treece, Brand Manager at Penguin Ventures. “We wanted to partner creativity and innovation with a real commercial opportunity for students.

“We have been blown away by their enthusiasm for vintage Ladybird and we very much look forward to seeing final designs.”

The winners will be announced after Easter.

Reimagining Vintage Ladybird is part of Ladybird’s centenary celebrations throughout 2015. Professor Lawrence Zeegen, a well-known illustrator and the Dean of the School Design at the London College of Communication has written a new book, Ladybird by Design, released earlier this month, which portrays a unique slice of Britain’s social and design history, as seen through the eyes of Ladybird.

Ladybird by Design - CoverThe book charts the rise of the company that was initially known as Wills & Hepworth, from its origin as a small Loughborough printer to its growth into a global publisher beloved by millions of children, teachers and parents. It delves into the stories behind the beautiful art and design of the iconic mini hardback books that have adorned children’s bookshelves for generations, and explores the career of Editorial Director Douglas Keen, who commissioned many of the books from the 1950s to the 70s, as well as those of the artists who brought them to life.

In addition to a range of classic covers and images from books, Ladybird By Design also contains a selection of rare photographs and artwork, and includes sections on favourite series such as Well-Loved Tales, Nature, How it Works, Key Words, Junior Science, Hobbies and Interests, People at Work and Adventures from History, through to information on the exciting books still being published by Ladybird today.

Accompanying the book is the Ladybird by Design exhibition at De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill On Sea, which opened in January and runs until Sunday 10th May 2015.

The De La Warr Pavilion is displaying over 200 original illustrations that cover a selection of Ladybird books from the late 1950s to early 1970s, focusing on those books which reflected the world in which the reader lived, the exhibition will feature selections from the People At Work series, Shopping With Mother, the Science and Nature series as well as the Well Loved Tales and Key Words series.

“The success of Ladybird was as much due to clever format and compelling design, as it was the quality of the writing, presenting a portrait of the time through the use of specifically commissioned illustration,” the gallery notes on its website.

“Unparalleled in their perfectly observed attention to detail and unique sense of place, Ladybird’s full-colour, full-page illustrations were often created by well-known illustrators such as Charles Tunnicliffe (What To Look For titles, series 536), Harry Wingfield (Shopping with Mother, series 563, and Key Words, series 641), Martin Aitchison (Key Words titles), Eric Winter and Robert Lumley (Well-loved Tales, series 606d), John Berry (People at Work, series 606b) and Robert Ayton (Great Inventions and The Story of Oil, series 601).”

And of course, Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson whose work for Ladybird Books was covered by downthetubes’ Jeremy Briggs over on Steve Holland’s Bear Alley blog.

• Alongside the exhibition the Gallery is also asking readers of the books to share your Ladybird moments and memories which you can send them  by either writing to the Gallery by email and sending it to; or recording a video directly to camera or phone before uploading it to your favourite social media with #talkaboutladybird. The Gallery will share a selection of your Ladybird moments on and on

There’s more information on the course involved in the project here on the College web site

• Ladybird Books:

• De La Warr Pavilion exhibition Information:

The De La Warr Pavillion is on the sea front at the >Marina, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex TN40 1DP, telephone 01424 229111

Ladybird By Design from De La Warr Pavilion on Vimeo.

Categories: Art and Illustration, downthetubes News, Exhibitions, Other Worlds

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