Netherland born Pieter Huveneers is a designer popular amongst GPO poster enthusiasts for, amongst other things, his designs for airmail and telephones. In Europe he designed for a number of large companies including BOAC, British Railways, Schweppes, ICI, Pepsi Cola and Philips.
For some decades he has lived and worked in Australia. Before his retirement Mr Huveneers designed nearly 70 names and logos for Australian corporations and employed a dozen staff. His Australian work included logos for Australia Post, Telecom Australia, and the Westpac bank.
Now 87 and retired, he continues to make paintings, including some innovative silver metal designs, and wonderful portraits.
We are indebted to Pieter’s partner Tanis for her assistance with this interview.
How did you become a poster artist/graphic designer?
I completed a design course at the Academy in Arnhem, Holland, during and after the war. I chose this particular course because of its wide application. You can make a design, it can be repeated in multiple applications and provide to the designer exposure to the public.
How and why did you begin designing for the Post Office? What other companies (whether commercial companies or advertising agencies) were you working for at the time?
Road Safety, BOAC, British Railways, Schweppes, Mullard, British Titan, General Electric Company, ICI, British Aluminium Company, Babcock, Pepsi Cola.
When designing a poster, did you have a clear idea of the image you wanted to create?
The image you want to create should be in line with the service offered.
Did the Post Office give you much freedom in your designs?
How many drafts would you make before the final poster was produced?
You don’t make drafts so much – I made doodles.
You were very young when you were commissioned by the Post Office. Did you feel under a lot of pressure?
What is your favourite design you produced for the Post Office?
The Post Office Guide.
You produced designs for various Post Office campaigns, including ‘Post Early’, ‘Buy stamps in books’, the ‘Post Office Guide’, and ‘Speak clearly’. Did you have a favourite campaign?
What prompted your move to Australia in the 1960s?
I worked at Philips Head Office in Eindhoven as International Creative Director in the mid 1960s. I had made many designs. It was really an opportunity to go to a country with new horizons.
Did you find freedom and opportunity for creativity in British graphic design declined in the 1960s?
Our archivist Anna’s favourite posters of yours are the ‘A pleasing tone always’ and ‘Speak clearly’ posters. Who, or what, was your inspiration for these posters?
I chose to portray the telephonist as young and alert.
You went on to work for Australia Post. Was there something that particularly appealed to you, or inspired you, about the postal service?
Which was your favourite organisation to work for?
The organisations which provided a well paid salary were attractive!
What would you say the differences are between poster design in the 1950s and now?
The graphic solution to the reproduction has reduced and relies more on photography now rather than design by hand. The personal and more painterly touch is missing.
Would you say the development of technology has made graphic designers more or less creative?