Edward Bawden was one of the most significant graphic designers of the 20th Century. He was a watercolourist, printmaker, muralist, commercial artist, designer, illustrator and teacher. His distinctive style was not influenced by the vagaries of fashion or trends.

Edward Bawden was born in 1903, the same year as Graham Sutherland, Ceri Richards, John Piper, Barbara Hepworth and Eric Ravilious. The Royal College of Art, where Paul Nash was one of his tutors, was pivotal in Bawden’s design career. It was at this time that his interest in printmaking began, and here that he met Harold Curwen. The role of Curwen Press, which took the high standards of private presses and applied them to commercial printing, cannot be underestimated in Bawden’s career. Bawden received commissions from Curwen throughout his life (including high profile advertising projects, posters, book covers and wallpapers) enabling him to reach a mass audience.

Bawden is famous for his large-scale linocuts, which are masterpieces of design: bold inventive images, focussing on the basic characteristics of a subject, as seen in 'Brighton Pier' (1958), 'The Pagoda, Kew Gardens' (1963) and 'Nine London Monuments' (1966), which nevertheless are incredibly complex in their execution. He was experimental within a traditional medium and could create texture through a mixture of paint-stripper and use of wire brush, supplemented with an almost painterly application of ink on a roller. He might also cut small blocks to generate localised areas of colour within a print.

Bawden’s commercial design work spanned over 60 years. Commissions included book illustrations, advertisements, posters, wallpapers, ceramics, textiles, furniture and murals. Bawden’s enterprises included wallpaper designs, laboriously hand-printed, using lino rather than woodblocks, and influenced by his hero, William Morris.