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Blog, inspiration journal, latest events, behind the scenes

James Barker blog, inspiration journal, latest events.

Shakespeare for The British Library

James Barker

In celebration of Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his death, we have once again teamed up with the British Library Shop to create a very special collection to celebrate the world's most famous playwright. 

British Library Shakespeare Shop. Store illustrations by our Creative Director James Barker. Store design and visual merchandising by Exhibeo VM. Photos by Alberto Balazs.

British Library Shakespeare Shop. Store illustrations by our Creative Director James Barker. Store design and visual merchandising by Exhibeo VM. Photos by Alberto Balazs.

Last month we were asked by the lovely Arantxa Garcia of Exhibeo VM (who did the fantastic Alice in Wonderland shop display at the British Library Shop) and the British Library if we would be interested in collaborating for their latest exhibition shop for ‘Shakespeare in Ten Acts’. Naturally we jumped at the chance. 

Their proposal was for us to completely cover their retail space with illustrations inspired by the works and times of Shakespeare. Quite a challenge considering we had to fill walls over 10 metres wide! Going by their suggestions we proposed to create three different designs to span the shop.

Likely the first of our wall designs you will stumble across as you enter the shop space is our recreation of the balconies of the Globe Theatre, while just to the right we wanted to create the idea of a crowd in the theatre looking towards the stage (which in this case would be the products on display).

Just beside the till is probably our favourite and most fun to create, a scene inspired by the Tempest with the choppy waves and going up along the wall surrounding a rather uneasy looking ship.

We also can’t forget the inclusion by request of three designs we used for our costumes pattern featuring the Bard himself, Hamlet (the skull gives that one away), and Bottom, with the head of an ass.

All of the designs started as relatively reasonable sized drawings and to see them on such a scale and brought to life was as exciting as it was a relief! 

We are very grateful to Arantxa and Maxine at the British Library for giving us the opportunity to give us free reign over their walls and we sincerely hope that those who visit enjoy the complete experience that Arantxa has created even before entering the exhibition!

The ‘Shakespeare in Ten Acts’ exhibition runs from April 16th until September 6th 2016. In the shop you will find many of our Shakespeare-inspired products including our handkerchiefs, mugs, notebooks, tea towels and greetings cards, along with many other great products from other designers.