Mike Chandler: Campaign Brief Hall of Fame

Chandler-CB-2004-Hall-of-Fame.jpgLegendary typographer and art director, the late Mike Chandler, was inducted into the Campaign Brief Hall of Fame in 2004. In Campaign Brief's The Work 04 annual of that year fellow Hall of Famer Lionel Hunt paid tribute to a master:

The first time ever I saw his face.

The first time I clapped eyes on Mike Chandler was at Leo's Spaghetti Bar in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda in Melbourne.

This venerable institution was, as luck would have it, dead opposite The Campaign Palace so naturally we had to pay it a daily visit.

I was introduced to Mike by Ron Mather and we were all to have a fine lunch. "The usual please, three grilled flounder and three bottles of Nastro Azzuro". 'Nasties' we used to call them as they did have a tendency to make you a little aggressive with account people in the afternoon.
Ron was, I noticed, a little in awe of Mike, which was a bit unusual for him.

I soon found out why. Within minutes it became obvious that Mike could put away more food, beer and wine more quickly, and with less obvious effect than even Ron and I.

This was to be the first of many hundreds of ever so slightly excessive lunches and dinners that I've had with Mike in the twenty odd years since.

At the time Mike bore a striking resemblance to a certain famous, portly, black-bearded tenor. (He's far more svelte, now.)

Shortly after, Ron and I did an invitation/poster for a talk Mike was giving to the Melbourne Art Directors' Club. I remember it well - Mike dressed in a dinner suit, with a big floppy white handkerchief with the headline: The Pavarotti Of Australian Type In His Only Melbourne Appearance.

The body copy (yes, body copy even in a poster) went on to say that Michael Chandler was the only man ever to get a hard-on over Bembo Bold.

Mike-Chandler-with-horse.jpgIn the years that followed I have got to know Mike very well. I know for instance that he very much likes food, beer, wine, restaurants, cooking, travel, fishing, shire horses and boats.

I can't for the life of me work out why we get on so well.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot, and he absolutely loves great print ads.

When I looked at his selected examples of his work I was struck by the fact that I remembered every one. That I still loved them every bit as much as I did years ago. That there wasn't a sans-serif face in sight. And that each had the unmistakable touch of the master.

Now, Mike would be the first to say that in each case there was also a very talented art director involved (I detect the hand of Rob Tomnay, Phil Atkinson and Vic Waterhouse to name but three) but nevertheless when you put a great art director with Mike Chandler you always got magic.

At best as I remember there weren't many, if any, great print ads in Australia before 1970.  And when they started to arrive it was mainly out of Melbourne, due in no small part to art directors like Gordon Trembath and the aforementioned Ron Mather and Rob Tomnay.  Sydney was fairly bereft of great print work until Mike arrived in 1978 and started Face, The Type Workshop. This very quickly became the pre-eminent typography, typesetting and artwork studio in Australia and Mike, with his involvement in ads like you see here, went on to become the most awarded creative individual in the history of AWARD.

And the credits go on. He was Vice Chairman of AWARD for three terms. He was a founding member and Chairman of the Australian Type Directors' Club. He has won countless awards including Gold at the ATDC, The One Show, The London International Awards and seven silvers at AWARD.

He then sold Face to Show Ads then freelanced for a while before joining me and Graham Watson at Lowe Hunt, so it all came round full circle.

Mike retired in 2003 but is still available to make your print ads look wonderful through his new company The Crystal Goblet.

I know I'm going to sound like a boring old fart but I recommend to all young art directors to have a look at the ads on this page and learn about how to make copy-based ads immensely readable. That's if they ever see any copy-based ads.

As Lowe Worldwide Creative Director Adrian Holmes says, "The sooner we get back to 'The Queen Anne' style of print ads the better."

And there'd be no-one better to help you do that than Mike Chandler.

Mike now lives in Walsh Bay, with his boat bobbing up and down outside, and his lovely wife Barbi and various children, and grandchildren bobbing up and down inside.

Mike Chandler? A very fine type indeed.

Lionel Hunt


Ron Mather said:

Nice one Lionel.Yes Mike was a master and Oh how we laughed!

bembo said:

An absolute legend indeed.


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