Born in Lowton, Lancashire, Eckersley was educated at Lords College, Bolton, and Salford College of Art under Martin Tyas. He worked in London as a graphic designer from 1934, in partnership with Eric Lombers until 1940. He won the Heywood medal of merit in 1935, was appointed teacher of poster design at the Westminster School of Art in 1937 and taught there until 1939. He established his reputation as a graphic designer during the Second World War, continuing to design posters for public service agencies like the Ministry of Information, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, and the General Post Office whilst a cartographer with the Royal Air Force 1940-45.
He established a successful freelance graphic design practice in 1945, working for various groups and concerns including London Transport, the General Post Office, London Press Exchange, W.S. Crawford, British Aluminium, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and KLM. In 1948 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire for services to British poster design. He was head of the graphic design department at the London College of Printing from 1957 to 1976. Designated Royal Designer for Industry in 1961 for his work in the field of graphics, Eckersley was elected RDI in 1963, and awarded the Chartered Society of Designers Medal in 1990. A member of AGI, Eckersley was represented by Artist Partners Ltd in the 1950s.
Eckerlsley’s working method was summarised in Art and Industry in January 1947, where his work was described as ruthlessly scrapping the ‘non-essential, by the perfect mating of chosen word with chosen picture, he wings the total message’. Ten years later Art and Industry described Eckersley as a ‘poster artist who knows how to dispense with words’. He was a Fellow of the Society of Industrial Artists, a Member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale, Governor of Gravesend School of Art and Senior Lecturer at the London School of Printing and Graphic Arts. His posters were widely exhibited in America and on the continent.
Information taken from: Darracott, J. and Loftus, B., Second World War Posters, 1981, p.26; Amstutz, W. Who’s Who in Graphic Art, 1962 p.230; Livingston, A, and Livingston, I., Dictionary of Graphic Design and Designers, 1992, p60; http://www.artistpartners.com/mainpages/ap_retro.html; Gowing, M., ‘What Made the Umbrella Weep, Mr. Eckersley?’, Art and Industry, Vol. 42, No.247, January 1947, pp.2-7; Gowing, M., ‘The Creative Mind in Advertising: Tom Eckersley OBE’, Art and Industry, Vol. 63, No. 377, November 1957, pp.158-163; 180.
Related texts: Eckersley, T,. Poster Design, 1954
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