Arden’s influences

The five key people and things that influenced the work of the late great art director, Paul Arden

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The evening (part of our Portfolios event) was put together for CR and hosted by Arden’s former colleagues Alexandra Taylor, Graham Fink and Nick Sutherland-Dodd. The latter set up the production company Arden Sutherland-Dodd with Arden in his later years. He revealed that whenever Arden ran short of inspiration there were five things to which he turned.


1, Vilhelm Hammershoi 1864-1916: Danish Painter of Solitude and Light.

This book of the Danish painter’s work was a constant reference point because of his use of light – particularly the way he would break the rules of normal composition by having subjects in shadow or semi-darkness


2, Lilliput Magazine


Lilliput was a small format British monthly founded in 1937 by the photojournalist Stefan Lorant. Its eclectic content featured a mixture of humourous articles, photomontages, cartoons, photographs and short stories with an impressive contributor list that included Bill Brandt, Brassaï, Robert Doisneau, Robert Graves, Nancy Mitford and Ronald Searle. All of the first 147 issues had covers illustrated by Walter Trier all of which featured a man, a woman and a small dog in different situations and historical periods.


3, The work of Jozsef Pesci (Cup & Biscuits, 1935 shown below)

The Hungarian photographer and art director (born in 1889) was noted for his black and white compositions with occasional flashes of vivid red, which can be seen on the cover of Photo and Advertising., a collection of his work

The influence of Pesci’s work can be seen in a Le Creuset ad shot for Arden by Tony Kaye in which flashes of red are cut randomly into black and white footage of workers in the factory where the distinctive pots are made.


4, Le Passion de Jeanne D’Arc directed by Carl T. Dreyer

Dreyer’s 1928 classic features both extraordinary framing and the kind of off-beat casting that was a feature in Arden’s commercials work


5, The work of Gilbert Garcin

The surrealist French photographer only took up the art seriously in his 60s after having retired from running a lamp factory. The quirkiness and humour are an obvious influence on Arden’s print work



Thanks to everyone who came to and contributed to a memorable evening. In a nod to some of Arden’s own talks, we had a cellist, a naked man reading a strategically-placed book (seen here next to, left to right, Fink, Sutherland-Dodd and Taylor).

Jeff Stark (who’d been creative director with Arden at Saatchi’s) told some jokes

And we were left with these words to sum up why Arden who, let’s face it, could be extremely hard work, capricious and maddening to work with, will be remembered so fondly by so many. More tributes here

  • Zuko

    That book isn’t placed quite strategically enough. Ewww.

  • James Nelson

    I’d never seen a butt camel toe before. Now I’ve lived.

    I’d also not heard of Gilbert Garcin before – wow.

  • Bip Mistry

    I think i’ll have to have a look at some of these influences, they appear to go really well together, like a nutritious meal!


  • hampers

    As I read the whole scenario of this “tribute-like post”, I can’t help but say that a genius like this is not easy to forget -will always be remembered because of his great contribution especially for the new generation with great minds/thinking too.

  • adam gee