Bowie hero image

The Crown Estate

David Bowie: Fame, Fashion, Photography

The world was shocked to learn of the death of David Bowie in January 2016, from liver cancer. It was only fitting that a plethora of tributes and exhibitions would emerge in its wake.

Small Back Room was lucky to be a part of one in particular

David Bowie, Fame, Fashion, Photography was a non-profit exhibition of unseen David Bowie photography in aid of Cancer Research UK. 

The event was free to the public and situated opposite one of Bowie’s most definitive London landmarks - the Ziggy Stardust plaque on Heddon Street where the cover of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album cover was shot.

The aim of the exhibition was not only to showcase to the public a selection of unseen Bowie images from some of his closest collaborators, but also to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Our brief was to create the visual language for the exhibition, which ran across all graphics and signage, event logo, limited edition brochure, t-shirts and social media support.

Three Bowie photographers – Chalkie Davies, Tony McGee and Denis O'Regan – donated never before seen images of Bowie, from different periods of his career, free of charge for display and auction to support this project.  All proceeds from sales of the prints and brochures were donated to CRUK, on behalf of David Bowie.

The challenge we faced was how to create an original design for such an iconic figure in the public’s consciousness that has pioneered so many creative milestones in fashion, music and art himself.

The focus of the exhibition is the photography so we wanted to create a simple yet striking look and feel so that the photography could shine when placed alongside the graphics.

Our thoughts underlying the process were:

Bowie was bold, let’s be bold.

We created the Jareth typeface from simple geometric shapes and managed to retain a simplicity of format whilst having a flexibility to adapt the logo to suit its surroundings and tease the photography through the type.

The exhibition itself was a massive success, receiving over 4,000 visitors in its two-week run.

Over half of these people purchased our catalogue or t-shirt.

Ultimately over £60,000 was raised for CRUK.

Media coverage was wide, with placements in high profile publications including London Evening Standard, The Telegraph, Rolling Stone, Vogue Italia, ITV News, BBC Radio 2. Social media engagement was also huge, with over 11,500 engagements, and high profile endorsements, including a post from Bowie’s wife, Iman.

The exhibition was conceived to honour the great artist that Bowie was, and to also help CRUK continue the amazing work that it does every day improving survival rates for cancer survivors, both of which were achieved.