By Daryl Wilkinson
It is with sadness that I write these words. Another truly talented typographer and designer has left us. Passing away peacefully on the 13th February 2019. He spent his life working in the field he truly loved, encouraging others and helping educate the next generation as well all those around him. He always had a laser like vision for how an idea or motif could be improved, and a way of warmly and simple helping others improve their work.
Ron as he preferred to be known, received no formal education in art or design, but commenced work in 1948 at the age of 15 as a junior commercial art assistant, in the design studio of Lamson Paragon Ltd (an established International specialist stationary manufacture and where he would meet his wife to be Mavis, and great friend, and eventual highly typographic protest artist, Paul Peter Piech) having been picked from his school due to his artistic skill. He studied design and typography at evening college. After completing 2 years National Service in the The Royal Air Force, he returned to Lamson Paragon in 1953.
He subsequently joined the design studio of Temple Press Limited, and was employed on editorial layout and advertising design for journals, including Motor, The Aeroplane, Motor Boat and Yachting, Commercial Motor, Motor Cycling, Nuclear Engineering and Motor Ship. He was made a Licentiate Member of the Society of Industrial Artists in 1959 (later renamed).
He went on to take a new role at Advertising and Design Associates in 1960, designing print for Direct Mail and Press Advertising on pharmaceutical accounts. As well as undertaking display and exhibition design. He won a Layton Award in 1961 and a fourth place in 1962. In 1961 he was appointed a Member of the Chartered Society of Industrial Artists and Designers and later was selected to serve on the Design Committee. The Society was given a Royal Charter and the designation added to it's name, the affix now reads MCSD.
Always keen to move forward with his career he joined Wiggins Teape Group design department in 1962, working on advertising, packaging, exhibitions and print for the paper-making industry. Ron was subsequently made a Fellow of the International Society of Typographic Designers. Serving on the Educational judging committee, for students submitting work for licentiate membership.
Ron was always keen to pass on his knowledge to the next generation, whether that was as a running coach (another great love) or as a part time tutor, teaching Typography and Design at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. He was also a founder member of the London Chapel of Private Press Printers, where his love for relief printing in all its forms–from linocut, woodcut to engravings, was expressed. After his retirement he would go on to shown his work at exhibitions throughout England (Bankside Gallery) and Scotland as well as the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, who retain one of the engravings in their private collection.
He was a Member of the Design and Art Directors Association, winning gold pencil awards in 1964 and 1967. With work published in the DADA Annual, Gebrauchsgraphic, Book Design and Production, Design and Art Direction, Graphis Annual, Designers in Britain, Modern Publicity, Graphics Britain, Graphis Packaging, and Typographic.
Ron joined W. S. Crawford, the international advertising agency working on national advertising campaigns, including press advertising for the launch of the new Vauxhall Viva car.
But the majority of his career was spent running his design company, Seaman Wilkinson Ltd, operating from their London premises in Chiswick. Seaman Wilkinson designed brands, packaging, publicity, advertising and integrated campaigns for a wide verity of global clients including–Beecham, Banque de Rhone, Reed Group, Pharmax, Abbott Laboratories, IBM, Aspro Nicholas, Boehringer Igelheim, Leo Laboratories, The Post Office and others.
Notable highlights include his striking shadow typographic identity design for P&O Group, for which he would be retained as corporate identity design consultants for some 25 years. Overseeing it's application in all areas throughout the world. Ron created many other identities for the likes of BEA Air Freight, Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF), Sealine Services and Pandair.
Ron’s passion for typography and design symbolism was inexhaustible, and his enthusiasm for the profession he loved was infectious. He will be greatly missed.
He is survived by his wife and two son’s.