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CR March: London Underground 150 special issue

Advertising, Art, Books, Graphic Design, Illustration, Type / Typography

Posted by Creative Review, 20 February 2013, 15:50    Permalink    Comments (24)

The history of the London Underground is the history of visual communications. We celebrate 150 years of the tube in CR March, where you can read about the evolution of the world-famous roundel, the Underground's own instantly recognisable typeface, its long tradition of great posters, platform art, maps, merch and more...

Our cover is by Robert Samuel Hanson – we asked him to imagine the London cityscape 150 years hence. The idea was inspired by Montague B Black's fantastic Underground poster from 1926, This Is All In The Air, a vision of what London might look like in 2026 (and featured on our contents page).

As for the features, Mark Sinclair's opening piece introduces a new book from Mark Ovenden, London Underground by Design (Penguin), the first study to comprehensively examine all aspects of the tube's design evolution, from architecture and signage, to lettering and logos.


Next, writer, blogger and public transport devotee, Ian Jones (author of, selects ten interesting things for CR readers to look out for on the Underground network on a design-spotting day out.

And Mark Sinclair asks Harry Beck authority Ken Garland what he makes of a new London Underground map concept by the designer, Mark Noad.

Gavin Lucas investigates the enduring appeal of Edward Johnston's eponymous typeface, commissioned 100 years ago.

Michael Evamy reports on how Parisian street signs, bull's eyes and perhaps even a total eclipse of the sun all played a part in the design story of the Underground's word-famous roundel.

And Patrick Burgoyne takes a look at London Transport Museum's new exhibition of 150 key pieces from its archive and speaks to some of the panel of experts who selected them.

The Underground is also home to many large scale public art and design projects: Mark Sinclair takes a look at the history of platform art and talks to artist Annabel Grey about her commissions for Finsbury Park and Marble Arch stations.

London Transport Museum's head of trading, Michael Walton, talks to Patrick Burgoyne about TfL's clever approach to brand licensing and merchandising which earns it millions each year.

And Anna Richardson Taylor explores the Underground's communications and advertising, past and present.

It's not all about the London Underground; the issue also has a feature in which Patrick Burgoyne talks to designer Mark Farrow and John Lewis brand creative Paul Porral about their collaboration on the identity of Kin, a new range of fashion basics at the department store.

And in Crit, Rick Poynor reviews a new book, Branding Terror, which brings together the graphic symbols and logos used by terrorist organisations.

Regular columnist Daniel Benneworth-Grey reflects on how working home alone gives him the time to concentrate, reflect and talk to inanimate objects; while Paul Belford looks at how an ad art directed by Helmut Krone in 1980 managed to do away with everything bar the product demo.

Plus, in this month's Monograph, we showcase a number of photographs by Adam Hinton of political graffiti in Egypt, with an introduction by Paul Belford.

Please note, CR now has a limited presence on the newsstand at WH Smith high street stores (although it can still be found in WH Smith travel branches at train stations and airports). If you cannot find a copy of CR in your town, your WH Smith store or a local independent newsagent can order it for you. If you would like to buy this issue, or subscribe to CR, you can do so direct from us here.


Looks set to be an exciting issue!

Really love the artwork on the front cover. Who is that by?
Tony Hardy
2013-02-20 17:30:33

@Tony Hardy Hope you like it. Good question, I've now added this text above: The cover is by Robert Samuel Hanson – we asked him to imagine the London cityscape 150 years hence. The idea was inspired by Montague B Black's fantastic Underground poster from 1926, This Is All In The Air, a vision of what London might look like in 2026 (and featured on our contents page). See
CR Mark Sinclair
2013-02-20 17:48:00

Absolutely stunning.
Cloudspotting Agency
2013-02-21 10:51:38

Looks great! I'm not a subsriber - can I buy this as one off issue? Do newsagents stock CR?
2013-02-21 13:39:29

@Claire Thanks! We actually have a subs offer on at the moment, but if you just want the single issue, click "current issue" on this page:
CR Mark Sinclair
2013-02-21 14:03:16

There's typo in the design awards ad...
2013-02-21 14:05:40

How cool!! Issues like that don't come too often and am sure it was great to read!
2013-02-22 02:20:09

@MarkSinclair thanks!
2013-02-22 18:09:38

Is creative available as a digital edition or hard copy only? Great issue this month by the way, the underground section is a really interesting read.
2013-02-22 22:22:59

Wow the cover is really beautiful I like it, nie colours too.
2013-02-25 04:49:20

Thanks so much for this, I really appreciate the nice job. I'm a huge Johnston afficianado and this has made my week.
Greg Fleming
2013-02-25 19:05:09

Wishing I was back in the UK to pick up this issue, it looks great!
2013-02-25 20:43:36

Very shrewd move by CR, this tube special. These are gona fly off the shelves, just got my copy and I have to say first CR i've purchased in a couple months and it looks fab.
2013-02-27 11:00:40

This is one of the best issues we have read in a while, really great work CR. We have been inspired to return to our roots with font types and present our new design agency website with an Underground style font. thank you for the inspiration - as always.
James Marshall
2013-03-04 13:51:07

I really liked Robert Samuel Hanson's work. To look at the detail, it's so simple, yet when you see a cityscape all together it has a wonderful effect. It has inspired me to start some personal projects!
Ken O'Brien Graphic Design
2013-03-05 08:53:53

Did you know that being 45 minutes in the tube corresponds to smoking 2 cigarettes?
2013-03-05 23:37:05

Lovely stuff. Really love the colors and variety. Brightens up a 'blah' day.
2013-03-14 20:51:12

Wow, this is excellent, thanks! I lived in London for 2 years in Putney and the Tottenham (Seven Sisters). It's more fun to visit, I'll tell you that much, than live in. The tube rapidly becomes a nuisance with all the breaking down and unexplained delays. I've lost hours sitting in dark tunnels for no reason.

Yet when those things come steaming out of a tunnel at full pelt and the wind starts whipping you up. Well, it's a magical sight. Thanks for the article!
2013-03-15 16:26:00

Any chance of running a reprint of the March issue? Or can I buy a pdf of it?
2013-03-16 18:12:10

The London Underground map continues to have an influence around the world: Harry Beck's London Tube map (1933) influenced Massimo Vignelli's New York subway map (1972), which has recently been resurrected by the MTA (2011). Read the story in this new book: "Vignelli: Transit Maps" (
Peter B Lloyd
2013-03-17 01:12:41

Totally agree Peter, it's an ingenious and timeless piece of design - the magazine does it justice too, really nice layups and articles.
Mega Mind Desgin
2013-03-18 15:53:58

Have to echo the positive comments above - absolutely love the front cover design. It's hard to get your hands on a CR these days - why the limited run on WH Smith stands? It always sold out in my local.
2013-03-20 10:38:42

Such a great cover, love the colours and the some how what naive approach!

2013-03-20 11:10:00

It's a pity this issue is sold out. I hope they consider reprinting it, because the Tube's 150 Anniversary year isn't over yet.
Peter van Campenhout
2013-09-22 21:11:36

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