There’s no doubt that it’s special day for any business when a person as famous as Paul McCartney walks through the doors. But in actuality, J.J. Hapgood’s connection to the famous Beatle began long before the store was rebuilt and revitalized by current owners, Juliette and Tim Britton.
The Store’s logo including J.J. Hapgood himself, two robins and the detailed ribbon that adorns everything that is a J.J. Hapgood brand was designed by a famous artist and family friend to Juliette, David Larkham. David is well-known for his creations of album covers, concert graphics and posters for Paul McCartney, Elton John, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and many more musicians. We caught up with David from his home in London to find out what intrigued him about the store, and his inspiration for the artwork.
J.J. Hapgood: What about the J.J. Hapgood project—the identity, the store, etc.— appealed to you?
David Larkham: Firstly, it was a chance to work with Juliette, who I knew from California – and also because I had visited Peru back in the early 80’s and, indeed, had checked out the old J.J. Hapgood store at the time. So, I was familiar with some of the history and feel of the place.
J.J. Hapgood: As you dug into the history of the store and the man, J.J. Hapgood, what struck you as interesting that lead to how you developed the identity?
David Larkham: The dig into history made me aware of the whole tradition of the store and its relevance and importance to the community of Peru itself. While Juliette was looking for an image of old “J.J.Hapgood” himself, I produced a fair amount of approaches – typographical, some with added flowers or wheat or bird motifs – and it was a matter of narrowing down options until we were going in a direction that Juliette and Tim felt was right. Having grown up in Peru, Juliette considered it important that there was a thread between the store of 1829 and what she envisioned for the store of the 21st Century.
And we achieved that ‘thread’ by basing the typography on the same old hand-drawn “J.J.Hapgood” lettering that was used in the 19th century signage. Once we had that, other elements like the scroll, the New England robins – and the occasional use of old “J.J’s” image – that all fell into place around the type. So… while I could have come up with all sorts of ‘modern’, funky yet hip approaches – the eventual ‘down home’ feel was something that struck a note with Juliette and Tim, and was something they felt would resonate with the local community too.
J.J. Hapgood: What do you draw on for your design inspiration? Is there anything in particular that inspired you on this project?
David Larkham: Design inspiration varies from job to job; art college teaches “form, fashion and function” – so if a job seems to demand something ultra-modern with futuristic typography and color – then that’s the way to go. If it’s a more earthy, home-spun product and project, then your thinking follows that sort of path. With the J.J.Hapgood store identity, my inspirations were the history, the old existing hand-drawn type – and the vision and drive of store-owner Juliette.
J.J. Hapgood: What design projects are you most proud of?
David Larkham: I’m actually quite proud of most of my work, since I feel that – if you’ve done your job right – then each is a success in it’s own way. My early work was mostly entertainment business, and obviously star names catch the eye – but I’ve also served up restaurant design and retail detail, directed corporate I.D., computer software packaging, cruise and travel, jewelry, financial literature, movie, theater and live event advertising. So… however glamorous or low-key – if things have gone right, then you’re pleased that it fits the bill. And I was also particularly happy with the work for the J.J. Hapgood General Store.
J.J. Hapgood: What design projects are you most famous for…. Especially ones that include the store’s famous visitor, Sir Paul McCartney?
David Larkham: As mentioned – it’s the star names that catch the eye; for Paul McCartney it was the album cover for “Pipes of Peace,” but I did a lot of other work for him – single sleeves like the “Say, Say, Say” duet with Michael Jackson, as well as posters and much else for various projects that he had going on. I’m also known for almost all of Elton John’s LP covers during his most successful years – including award winning album sleeves for “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy”. There’s been a lot else for the likes of David Bowie, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Genesis, Rolling Stones, Phil Collins, Steely Dan, Van Morrison, Iron Maiden, Celine Dion and too much to mention really. But I hope you get the picture.
To learn more about David Larkham and his bevy of incredible work check out the Album Cover Hall of Fame interview with him from 2014. We are so appreciative of the work that David did to bring the identity of the Store to life. It’s no doubt that J.J. Hapgood himself would have been proud of these unique and humbling connections.