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Interview // Tara Hanrahan on LCC’s Reimagining Vintage Ladybird collaboration

Ladybird_Visit_by_Lewis_Bush (4)
Ladybird_Visit_by_Lewis_Bush (4)
Lewis Bush 2015,
Written by
Helen Carney
Published date
31 March 2018

On Wednesday 25 and Friday 27 March, LCC students involved in our Reimagining Vintage Ladybird project presented their ideas to a panel of Ladybird and LCC representatives.

To coincide with the latest exciting pitch sessions, we caught up with Special Projects Lead and designer Tara Hanrahan to hear more about the project she is coordinating with Ladybird.

What is your earliest memory of Ladybird books?

I remember my mother teaching me to tell the time with a Ladybird book. The book incorporated a blank clock face which she would place hands on and then ask me the time.

Whilst running the Reinterpreting Vintage Ladybird project at LCC I came across the same book in a junk shop (A Ladybird Learning to Read Book: Telling the Time). It’s a perfect example of Ladybird charm – beautifully detailed graphic diagrams coupled with family-focused illustration and narration for each hour of the day.

I have just used it to teach my daughter the time. (A timeless book you might say!)

presentations - tara close-up

Describe what makes Vintage Ladybird illustrations so recognisable.
The honesty of content combined with the hyper-reality of their execution is a combination unique to Vintage Ladybird illustrations.

In today’s world we ask illustrators to do something other than just accurately visualise information or document a moment, making these images not only rare, but magical.

Why do you think people feel such an attachment to Ladybird as a brand?

I think it’s nostalgia, born out of a trust in the brand. Generations have been taught by Ladybird, so a belief that the brand cares and will nurture, that the content is truthful and reliable, is inevitable.

ladybird presentation - table

Participating students share their ideas about reimagining the Ladybird brand. Image © Lewis Bush

How did the students involved in this project respond to the Ladybird archives?

The students were amazed by the archival illustrations – the skill demonstrated, the vividness of the colours, the diversity of the content.

What are you hoping to see in their work?

We’re challenging our illustrators and designers to explore Vintage Ladybird via subject matter, process and medium. I hope to see enthusiasm, investigation, experimentation and ultimately reinterpretation.

ladybird - image board

Participating students share their ideas about reimagining the Ladybird brand. Image © Lewis Bush

How do you feel about the project’s involvement with London Design Festival 2015?

It’s wonderful to have a platform to showcase historic illustration alongside a contemporary creative response to that stimulus.

View images from the students’ recent presentations

Read more about LCC’s Reimagining Vintage Ladybird project