Ian Noble Tribute
  • Hamish Muir
  • It is very hard to come to terms with a world without Ian. A bright light has gone out, a huge centre of gravity is missing. Words don't come easily in attempting to express the sense of loss. He will be sorely missed by his family and many friends

    I first met Ian shortly after starting teaching part-time on the BA Graphic and Media Design course at the LCP some twelve years ago. He had recently moved to running the MA in Graphic Design but his energy and enthusiasm were still felt on BA GMD where he'd previously been Course Director

    I got to know Ian better through contributing to 'Up Against the Wall', one of the books he co-authored with Russ Bestley. In our discussions about 8vo's poster work, I was struck by his incredible enthusiasm for and knowledge of graphic design, but most of all by a sense of someone who wanted to understand the creative process in a profound way so that he could help explain some of the mysteries of making visual communication, in a straightforward non-jargonistic way, to colleagues, students and professionals alike. I think that was one of Ian's missions in life – he had a rare gift of being able to explain the intangibles of the design process with erudition, wit and insight

    Later, in his role as research co-ordinator in the School of Graphic Design, Ian was instrumental in catalysing the making of the book about 8vo that Mark Holt and I began work on in 2003. Without Ian's enthusiasm for the project and his support in securing substantial research funding from the College, the book wouldn't have happened. We were delighted when later Ian agreed to write for the book – his eloquent and apposite essay lends a sharp contextual insight without which the book would be incomplete

    Ian was a brilliant communicator and champion of both design and design education. This became more evident when I had the the privilege of teaching with Ian when he worked with David Phillips, Martin Ashley and me on the Information Design Pathway of the BA GMD for a two year period from 2008–2009. During this time Ian and I ran the second year of the course. Teaching alongside him was an education in itself. He was adored by the students for his unbounded enthusiasm, his knowledge, wide ranging references and his wisdom

    Ours was a kind of double act (in which I played the boring quiet one) in the fight to get the students to make things rather than just talk about what they might make. To get the point across and to provide us with tools to assist in the process, we coined a number of aphorisms which became the metaphorical levers of control with which we ran the projects. For one particular poster design project we used 'Stop thinking, start making' and 'Stop making, start thinking' interchangeably, depending on the week by week progress evidenced in group crits

    Ian organised an interim exhibition of second year work in progress in Spring 2008 for which the subtitle of the poster he designed read:

    Try to fail
    Try again
    Fail better



    The goal was to encourage the students to aspire to be more than proficient professionals; to be makers and thinkers who could surprise and challenge themselves to do more and better – a constant struggle in light of the ever diminishing time available to full-time students to devote to their studies, as the pressures of fees and loans became more burdensome, with the inevitable trend towards students taking on more part-time work outside college

    Ian was such a truly inspiring teacher. He profoundly influenced a whole generation of students who were fortunate enough to be taught by him. His special skill, his genius, was as a storyteller in the great oral tradition. He told stories about design and about making things in ways that were easy to understand and easy to put into practice

    As well as being a great colleague, Ian was, above all, a fantastic friend. His kindness and generosity are the stuff of legend. And the jokes and all the laughs – you had to be on your toes just to keep up and not to be overwhelmed by his wicked wit and fertile imagination. (Wicked yes, malicious never). His humour was dangerous because you never knew what might be coming next – you couldn't steel yourself for what often resulted in uncontrollable laughter in its most debilitating form. The best of times were having a few beers in the local after work, or at our regular end of Term 'Info Pathway' lunches in a gastro pub on The Cut. Here we saw Ian as the complete Big Man, where the imperatives of college and teaching receded a little and where his love of his family and his native Portsmouth shone through. When he got on the train to go home, the light dimmed a little in London. But you knew he was going back to the people and place he loved

    I feel very honoured to have known him – he was a warm and kind friend and a great man. I will miss him so much

    Hamish Muir. Designer. Part-time lecturer, School of Graphic Design, London College of Communication