tat* – Inspirational Graphic Ephemera


Inspirational Graphic Ephemera

Author: Nina Steimel

tat* — Inspirational Graphic Ephemera is a bit of a graph­ic designer’s curse. Walk into any design stu­dio and you’ll see bits and pieces of graph­ic ephemera pinned to the walls or taped to a com­put­er screen. Even the purist will have a secret cache hid­den away some­where. Design­er Andy Alt­mann has been col­lect­ing tat for more than 30 years. He finds inspi­ra­tion in the ordi­nary, and mag­ic in the mun­dane. Final­ly he has decid­ed to share his col­lec­tion with the world. Con­ceived and edit­ed by Andy, this is the apoth­e­o­sis of tat. A visu­al trea­sure trove, full of sur­pris­es, it should find a place on every graph­ic designer’s desk.

Andy Alt­mann is a found­ing part­ner at Why Not Asso­ciates, one of the UK’s lead­ing mul­ti-dis­ci­pli­nary design com­pa­nies. Although he trained as a graph­ic design­er, Andy’s work typ­i­cal­ly blurs the bound­ary between design and art. His projects range from exhi­bi­tion design to postage stamps, via adver­tis­ing, pub­lish­ing, tele­vi­sion titles, com­mer­cials, cor­po­rate iden­ti­ty, and large-scale pub­lic art. The com­mon thread is a fun­da­men­tal love of typog­ra­phy, research, and experimentation.

As a student, a decision to present a scrapbook instead of a sketchbook for his interview to St. Martin’s School of Art, was the catalyst for starting his collection of tat: “I rummaged through the drawers at home and found some football cards from the 60s / 70s (plenty of Georgie Best), an instruction leaflet from an old Hoover, Christmas cracker jokes … Then I started on the magazines, cutting out images of anything that interested me … and photocopied things from books before reaching for the scissors and glue.”

It was the beginning of a significant collecting habit that he has maintained ever since. So what is it that makes a piece of graphic tat interesting? Is it the ‘retro’ thing—a fascination with a bygone age, the primitive printing techniques, naivety of the design or use of color? All of the above of course, but it’s never quite that simple. It has to have that indefinable element of magic. To a graphic designer, most of this book could safely be regarded as ‘bad’ design. But there is something special in each and every piece that made Andy pick it up off the street, trawl online or enter a dodgy looking shop on the other side of the world to snap up. You’ll find everything from sweet wrappers to flash cards, soap powder boxes to speedway flyers, wrestling programs to bus tickets. More tat than you can shake a stick at. Taken together, it represents a lifetime of gleeful hunting and gathering.

tat* (noun)—any­thing that looks cheap, is of low qual­i­ty, or in poor con­di­tion; junk, rub­bish, debris, detri­tus, crap, etc.

tat* — Inspirational Graphic Ephemera

Publisher: CIRCA PRESS
Release: April 2021
Author & Designer: Andy Altmann
Volume: 400 pages 
Format: 25 × 21 cm
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-911422-27-3
Price: £ 45.–

tat* – Inspirational Graphic Ephemera

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