What Would Harry Beck Say?

Befuddled travellers on the London Underground are currently being helped on their way with free, fold-out maps bearing this distinctive interpretation of the famous Tube Map by artist David Shrigley

OK, so it’s not meant as an alternative to Harry Beck’s map (the original masterpiece of information design can be found on the reverse) but Shrigley’s impassioned scrawl does offer an apposite, present-day response to the rational certainties implied by Beck. The latter’s original map was introduced in 1931 and, although updated several times since, the core design has endured. The network, however, has not aged so well. Beck’s map was introduced at a time of great confidence and pride in the Tube. Under Frank Pick’s direction it became world-renowned for every aspect of its design. Beck’s map exuded authority and control – getting from A to B was simply a matter of following its colour-coded tendrils.

But now, when Londoners and visitors alike are forced daily to run a gauntlet of the line closures, suspensions, signal faults and security alerts that are endemic in the ailing network, Beck’s confidence seems sadly misplaced. It’s Shrigley’s chaos that more closely portrays what it feels like to use the Tube in 2006.

Why do I need to register?

Every month, hundreds of thousands of people visit us here on our website. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. We just ask you to provide a few details about yourself and what you do. Don't worry, we won't share your information with anyone, unless you give us permission to do so. In return you can:

Submit your work

Send us your latest projects, which we will review and consider to be featured on our website or in the print magazine.

Receive our newsletter

Get the latest creative insight and inspiration delivered straight to your inbox, in a newsletter curated by the CR editorial team.

Subscribe for more from CR

Subscribe to Creative Review to access all our premium online content, the digital archive which includes over 400 issues of the magazine and much more.




Maidenhead, Berkshire