Ian Noble Tribute
  • Sharon Spencer
  • I was a part time student on Ian and Russell’s MA Typo/graphics course, and will always be grateful to them both, for giving me the opportunity to try my hand at lecturing. Unbelievably, Ian once told me he suffered from nerves when he was about to hold a lecture. Although, you would never have guessed it. He said this to reassure me, but this knowledge made me appreciate his achievements even more.

    When Ian spoke, it was often difficult to catch all the concepts he would merrily explain and references he would quote, in one sentence. Did he have a photographic mind, and exactly how did he recall so many names off the top of his head? I never did ask him, what gave him that extraordinary ability?

    I did happen to mention to Ian that he reminded me of an outstanding lecturer called Chris Mullen. Like Ian, the enthusiasm and rigour with which Chris approached his subjects was admirable. Chris would limit the length of his lectures to half and hour and literally bombard you with information. Sound familiar? You would be on the edge of your seat with interest and fired you up to go and find out more. It turned out, Chris had taught Ian.

    If you were lucky enough to have been taught by Ian, you will know what a huge loss he will be to the students of the future. Ian was a true prodigy and there will be few, if any that will ever match his speed of mind, wealth of knowledge, warmth, and pure genius. Like Strummer and Jones, as a teaching partnership, Ian and Russell complimented each other perfectly. Few mentors can, or will, inspire that much respect from their students. I hope Ian had just an inkling of it.

    When I approach a design project, I still think of Ian telling me in order to create or get things out, you must put things in. A simple, but strangely effective way to say, just research, and then experiment.

    More recently, I would bump into Ian every now and then, usually at his end of year show and we would pick up where we left off. It was always a pleasure to see his wry smile. Occasionally, I would receive an email, with difficult questions to answer from a student, studying at Kingston.

    It seems the special ones amongst us, are taken first, but Ian’s insights will live on. Like many of Mr. Noble’s disciples, I wish I could share a beer with Ian again, and listen to more of his wise words about life, music, football or art or just have a laugh.

    From one of the two book girls (as Ian, liked to call us).

    Sharon Spencer, Senior Designer, Penguin DK