William Morris, born in 1834, was an artist, writer, poet, textile designer, architect and socialist. He
was associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and, along with John Ruskin and Augustus
Pugin, a founding-father of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The ‘Arts and Crafts’ movement was a
revolution, a reaction to steam-powered industrial mass production and the low quality of factory-line produced wares. As Arts and Crafts was a movement, not a style, it set down the ground rules
which led to a gothic revival, celtic ornaments and a revival in folk art.
But for me, Morris is the great-grand-daddy of graphic design (even though the term ‘graphic design’ wasn’t coined until thirty years after his death). Morris’s flat and simplified natural motif designs were a graphic reaction to the realism seen in the fabric and textiles on show at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
His typefaces live on today, reproduced in many digitised forms based on Kelmscott Golden Type, Troy/Chaucer and others inspired by his illuminated capitals. His textiles and wallpaper patterns have been a huge inspiration in my sketchbooks which, in turn,
influence my commercial work.