Ian Noble Tribute
  • Michael Nicholson
  • I met Ian while trying to do last-minute photocopies on my first morning’s teaching at LCP Illustration one winter in the early 2000s. This very tall man caught my eye as he walked past and we just fell into conversation, involving him having seen the Chemical Brothers in Portsmouth over the weekend and that he was still suffering for it that morning. At no point did he mention his job or that he ran one of the courses. Frankly he could have been an amiable janitor. He showed me how the copier worked, we shook hands and he just said “I’m Ian” and carried on.

    That was Ian’s innate modesty showing.

    Of course I soon got the lay of the land in the rather chilly atmosphere of the place and re-met Ian across the weeks and months, but he never greeted me with anything other than warmth and treated me as anything other than an equal. This is not always the case – certainly in today’s deeply corporate, determinedly strategic and stratified university art schools.

    That was Ian’s innate humanity showing.

    He later invited me to lecture with his MA students, on the crossover of my work from illustration to storyboarding and – just beginning at that point – self-published zines. This ticked a few boxes for Ian as he was always just as interested to talk about comedy, and my then-recent experiences with Vic and Bob and The League of Gentlemen (and comic books) as he was the rarified atmosphere of design theory.

    That was Ian’s innate broadmindedness showing.

    A big man with a big brain, and unreservedly passionate and compelling company. He imposed a new gravitational force upon a room upon entering it, drawing you towards him with a smile tickling your lips in anticipation. Yet he also maintained a true gentleness, an endearing vulnerability, a shyness. When you talked and he listened, he would usually follow quietly with an insightful question that cut to the heart of the matter. I never got to know Ian very well; a memorable rushed hour in The Hole In The Wall at Waterloo (2004?), a handful of unexpected meetings with no time for more than exchanged mock-insults and a hug, a handful of emails between 2005 and 2012. Our last pseudo-communication came before Christmas when he endorsed me on Linkedin for ‘Graphic Design’. Which I’d like to think was also a coded piss-take.

    And now there’s an Ian-shaped hole in the world that only he could leave.

    “Time is the school in which we learn,
    Time is the fire in which we burn.” Delmore Schwartz

    Mike Nicholson, Illustrator/writer and Senior Lecturer, Graphic Design BA (Hons), University for the Creative Arts, Epsom