A tribute to Bob Bateman, CR’s first art director

Creative Review launched in 1980 with a distinctive square format and 90-degree logo designed by Bob Bateman who died this week. Former colleagues Michael Chamberlain and Noreen Laurie remember the birth of CR and Bob’s contribution to its enduring success

Facsimile of the CR launch issue produced for our 30th anniversary

Creative Review launched in 1980 with a distinctive square format and 90-degree logo designed by Bob Bateman who died this week. Former colleagues Michael Chamberlain and Noreen Laurie remember the birth of CR and Bob’s contribution to its enduring success

Bob Bateman (pictured below during his time at Centaur) was one of the great British magazine art directors (write Michael Chamberlain and Noreen Laurie). He was a true professional able to turn his talent from the design or revamp of a myriad of mainly business magazines to the promotional media packs that underpinned their very existence.

Creative Review is a lasting legacy of his success.

 

In 1979, the late Anthony Nares, then managing director of Marketing Week Communications, Michael Chamberlain, co-founder editor/publisher of Marketing Week, and Torin Douglas, media journalist and first editor of CR, briefed Bob on plans to launch a magazine that would enshrine the best of commercial creativity and design. It would be called Creative Review.

The naysayers were adamant there wasn’t a market – it couldn’t be commercially viable.

Noreen Laurie, former advertisement director of Campaign, agreed and then, in a Damascene conversion, she saw Bob’s first design boards: the square format, the impossibly large logo running horizontally and vertically [set in a version of Advertisers Gothic], the white out of black reversals showcasing colour images and text. To see it was to love it. Creative Review was born and Noreen became its sales director and publisher.

 

Feature on packaging design from the launch issue of CR, written by Terence Conran

 

Not without its problems – who, in their right minds, would launch a magazine where all the advertising artwork had to be specially and expensively produced?

Moreover, who would buy a magazine that was (then) quarterly, therefore with no “absence factor” to quote the most esteemed creative of that time, Jeremy Bullmore, chairman of J Walter Thompson.

And could a fledgling magazine company support and sustain such a uniquely beautiful but financially challenged sister? (Marketing Week, in which Bob was also involved in a seemingly endless series of redesigns, was only two years old.)

Spread from feature on the use of celebrities in commercials from the launch issue of CR, written by John Webster

The answer was yes. Bob prevailed. And from the day Creative Review was launched, placed on the seats of delegates to the 1980 Advertising Association conference in Brighton, the magazine was recognised as a stunning and significant addition to the creative world.

On a personal level, gleaned from many subsequent, successful design and re-design projects with Bob at Centaur, which included DesignWeek, Precision Marketing and Televisual magazines, we all learned from Bob’s towering patience: “Sleep on it,” was his advice when it came to making design decisions.

Sleep well, Bob. Much of the glory that was and is Creative Review, now one of the world’s largest selling creative magazines, belongs to you.

Your creative flair prevailed and Creative Review is a fitting tribute. Commercially, we just moved it from quarterly to monthly and went with the flow.


Michael Chamberlain, founder editor/publisher Marketing Week & Noreen Laurie (Chamberlain) former publisher, Creative Review

 


Bob Bateman, Art Director (1952-2014)
d.June 15, 2014

I’ve just been leafing through the first ten issues of CR and it’s brought back great memories (as Patrick will remember, I had to lend CR my copy of the first edition to reproduce for the 30th anniversary, since Centaur’s library isn’t as complete as it should be!)

Bob and I were lucky to be given such a free hand in the early days, to try things out in the new format. We loved the fact that the back cover was the mirror-image of the front, so it seemed you were looking through a transparency (until, one day, commercial reality insisted that there should be an ad on the back cover). I remember the shock when it was realised that we’d used 35 separate images to illustrate the ‘celebrities’ feature in the first issue – every celebrity photo in the Marketing Week picture library! And John Cleese, Richard Briers and Billy Connolly opening up about the ads they liked doing and the ones they didn’t….

And of course every creative director in town wanted to write for us. Happy days.
Torin Douglas, launch editor, Creative Review

 

As well as designing Creative Review, which I edited in 1985-6, Bob Bateman also created the iconic black-and-white format for DesignWeek, which launched in September 1986. I was the founding editor, Noreen Laurie was the publisher, Roger Beckett was the ad director and Claire White was art director. Bob always said his inspiration for the look of DesignWeek was the Bauhaus, a movement which saw designers assume unprecedented importance. Bob spent hours pouring over monochrome images from Weimar and Dessau in the 1920s to create a publication for the crazy designer hothouse of 1980s London! When DesignWeek launched, we all travelled down with Bob to the printers in South Wales to watch the the first issue roll off the press late in the evening. Flushed with our success, we returned to our hotel and began drinking heavily into the night. At which point Bob leapt to his feet and announced, ‘Guys, we’ve launched a weekly. You’ve got to produce another issue next week. And the week after…’  We all meekly went to bed and took an early train back to London. Bob was a great guy, full of wisdom, full of humanity.
Jeremy Myerson, Director and Chair, The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art

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