Art books

It was probably an early Kurt Schwitters catalogue cover that started it for me

And it was probably Brian Tattersfield and Marcello Minale, my employers back in those 80s days, who first opened my eyes.

The experience was to kindle in me a lasting (and expensive) love of mid-century art and design books, and if anyone claims you can’t judge a book by its cover, my groaning shelves beg to differ.

For me, these mini-masterpieces of graphic art evoke a time when the distinction between designers and fine artists was less defined than today, and when their free-thinking collaboration produced breath-taking results.

Like a good wine, a good cover also travels well and the ‘thrill of the hunt’ is heightened by a trip to any foreign city no matter how brief. Whether in a musty, tucked-away bookseller’s in Amsterdam, a Parisian market stall or a regular haunt in Stockholm, a truly great cover leaps out from the stack no matter which language it speaks.

And what better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon at home than to reach for an old friend of a volume, be inspired all over again and recall that priceless moment of discovery?

Phil Carter


Having left school unburdened by academic triumphs, but with a keen visual eye and the ability to draw, Phil Carter studied at Norwich School of Art. The first acquaintance he made there was Phil Wong, with whom he later progressed for a three-year spell at the Royal College of Art.

Carter and Wong, with that spark of originality that was to serve them well, then formed their own company named: Carter Wong.

That was in 1984, and over the ensuing 24 years the company has tackled a wealth of graphic design projects: from worldwide identities for Wall’s ice cream and one of the globe’s most famous brands — Formula 1– to individual award-winning work for clients such as howies and the Science Museum. And, indeed, for every friend of theirs who ever set up a business.

As Carter Wong continues to thrive, Phil Carter has come full-circle as the external assessor for the Communication Art & Design course at the RCA.

Phil Carter

Special thanks to Paul Stapleton at Carter Wong



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