28 January 2001
London (United Kingdom) - It is with great regret that we record the death of John Aston on December 28th at his home in London.
London (United Kingdom) - It is with great regret that we record the death of John Aston on December 28th at his home in London.

John Aston will be remembered by so many members of Icograda throughout world for his generosity, good humour and wise counsel. By his own admission he was an Icograda groupie and devoted to the concept of international professional collaboration, friendship and togetherness. He attended his first Icograda Congress in Vienna in 1969when he received an award from the then President John Halas. He remained an admirer and friend of Halas all his life. At a special dinner in London to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Icograda and honour the founder President, the late Willy de Majo, Halas and John sat together and swapped stories late into the night. Later it was John Aston who delivered the oration in memory of Willy de Majo at the Lisbon Congress in 1995.

John Aston was born in Shrewsbury just on the border between England and Wales. He trained as a photographer and graphic designer and while at college met and married the illustrator Martina Selway. He started his career as art editor for the magazine Photographic Review before joining the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) publishing division. From the publishing house he moved to BBC Television s Graphic Design Studios and became Manager. This studio was then considered world leader and, as a result, John was in great demand as a lecturer on graphic design development in television at design and broadcasting conferences across the globe . He was a natural speaker (and indeed storyteller) and the wonderful cadences of his voice revealed his Welsh ancestry and love of that country. While at the BBC he gave endless hours of time to assist students and young designers and went to enormous trouble to ensure that all those he interviewed came away feeling that the experience had been a positive one. This love of sharing and learning led him to take early retirement from the BBC and become Director of Bedfordshire College of Art and Design. He said then, that he had such a wonderful time as a designer that he wanted to give something back to the next generation. Sometime into this job he was to remark ruefully that too much time of educators was taken up with bureaucratic nonsense and form filling and not enough with teaching . He became Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Icograda London Seminar and with Mervyn Kurlansky oversaw the 25th anniversary celebrations of this event.

When John retired he fulfilled a long held ambition and to walk the Pilgrim Route to Santiago de Compestello in Spain. It was typical of John that he agreed to carry with him the name of a young design practice which had requested help from Icograda and which happened to be based in Santiago. At the end of his six weeks walking he visited the design studio and did, indeed, launch them into their international career. Just one example of his willingness always to help others.

Icograda and the world of graphic design will be the poorer for John s passing. His family asked that he be remembered with a smile and a song and at his funeral on January 15, each member of the large congregation wore a flower. There will be a memorial celebration of his life in London later in the year (date to be announced). Member Associations of Icograda and friends of John are invited to send messages and memories to be included in this event. They may be sent to Mary Mullin or to 174 Holland Park Avenue, London W11 4UH.

For further information please contact:

Mary Mullin
174 Holland Park Avenue,
London W11 4UH.
United Kingdom