Irish Writers series.
Vintage poster prints by Jim Fitzpatrick from the early 70s.
To check out the individual prints click here!
Back in the late 60s and early 70s, when every main street from San Francisco to Dublin and London had a poster , zanaflex drug shop, I was quite a prolific producer of graphic posters, decorative, artistic and political.
This Irish writers mini-series was an attempt to publish a series of 10 posters celebrating great Irish writers and was split between at least three different publishers, here in Dublin, where I lived, and in London.
All these posters were produced between 1972 and 1973.
The first posters were commissioned by Criterion Press of Dublin and were part of a very quirky set of six images.
Two were black and silver Celtic Goddess posters and two more were very Jack Kirby influenced comic style images while the last two were more intellectual: the James Joyce image and the two-colour poster of Oscar Wilde.
The posters of W.B.Yeats, Brendan Behan -and the black and white Oscar Wilde -were produced for Hobson Morris, Dublin, while in London the arthouse publishers, Motif Editions, run by the legendary Edward Booth-Clibborn (who absolutely loved my work) produced an original series of six Celtic Goddess posters -and reprinted the purple Oscar Wilde poster then commissioned the Samuel Beckett poster.
Since Sam Beckett was alive and well I wrote to him, through a mutual friend, asking his permission to use his image for a drawing to be published as poster and sent him Behan, Yeats and Joyce.
I received a reply, written in his characteristic crabby handwriting on a personal business card with the following message:
‘Thank you very much for thinking of me
but please wait till I am quite dead’
-signed Samuel Beckett.
I went ahead anyway and I gather he was quite amused if not quite dead.
In the end I never had a chance to finish the set and just like my intended series on the 1916 rebels, all were abandoned when the IRA bombs went off in London and Birmingham and all things Irish were, understandably, verboten.
I could write an essay on traveling to London and trying to work in both cities as an artist. I had quit my very highly paid job as a Creative Director in advertising and a couple of cataclysmic events conspired to put me out of the UK market.
I remember first the ‘Oil Crisis’ –when the oil producers decided to pump up the price of oil tenfold, culminating in long queues outside every petrol station. Recession followed rapidly and the poster market collapsed.
Aer Lingus, our national airline, used it’s state monopoly to hike up their prices massively, charging today’s equivalent of a disgraceful €2,000 for a return ticket to London (no RyanAir then….).
But the straw that broke the camel’s back and my promising career as a poster artist was the IRA bombing campaign.
The perfect storm engulfed me and even though I had great success with my first book ‘Celtia’ and other graphic art commissions it was really Philip Lynott and Thin Lizzy which turned the tide and allowed me to feed and educate my family. But that’s another story for another day…
-Jim FitzPatrick. 2016
PS. The original artwork for the black and white Oscar Wilde poster and another artwork for a poster of George Bernard Shaw ‘disappeared’ when in the possession of Hobson Morris, now sadly defunct.
The Oscar Wilde image is my only record and is not as fine as the other reproductions as I had to rework it from a postcard.
Unfortunately I have no record of the George Bernard Shaw artwork but if anyone out there has a copy, no matter how poor, I would be extremely grateful indeed to get hold of it.