Berthold Wolpe

The life and work of the late dust-jacket artist Berthold Wolpe, the man behind the legendary Faber & Faber book covers, is drawing a crowd at the Lettering & Commemorative Arts Trust at Suffolk’s Snape Maltings, in a unique exhibition ‘The Total Man’.

Inspired by Wolpe’s distinctive hand-drawn graphic style, Baddeley Brothers offered to sponsor and support the exhibition, sharing images of Wolpe’s work with customers and followers from the creative and design community.

Charles Pertwee explained: “This is a very private, personal exhibition which explores both the extraordinary work of Berthold Wolpe and his lifestyle – giving designers a unique glimpse into the world that inspired him.

“We feel this exhibition can help others find their own unique style, using pen and paper to explore bold designs and distinctive typefaces. Visiting the exhibition, we discovered that this is something that curator Professor Phil Cleaver, also feels very strongly about.”

Berthold Wolpe

“As a close friend of Berthold’s family, I designed this exhibition for them,” added Professor Cleaver. “It’s a chance for visitors to see his original artwork, drawn by hand on scraps of paper. It gives each dust jacket a human feel, which you just don’t get today with computer-based design.

“I wanted to showcase the quality of his work, in its totality, sharing the visual amazement of the guy, from his coat to his oil paintings. He was a character – and it’s true that interesting people make interesting designers, who make interesting work. Scholarly, inquisitive, with a magpie-like fascination, I hope that these characteristics will inspire designers to pick up a pen, get the paper out, and start drawing.

“There is a strong link between the quality on show in the exhibition and the traditional printing skills practised by Baddeley Brothers. I tell all my students – go to the printers and sit at the end of the press. Designers and printers should talk to each other about how the finished piece of art will look and feel.

“In fact, Berthold always worked closely with the production team and printers of the Faber & Faber books, to ensure that his artwork was reproduced faithfully and vividly, so I think his work was influenced by working in this way.”

Berthold Wolpe

“The quality of the finished print was important to Berthold, and that’s why, after speaking to his family, I decided to produce a book about him, rather than the usual exhibition catalogue. We all felt it needed to be done right – as a fitting tribute to his life and work.”

You can buy a copy of The Total Man by Berthold Wolpe direct from Impress Publishing and the exhibition is running until 24 June at The Lettering & Commemorative Arts Trust in Snape Maltings. Admission is free.

Berthold Wolpe