GAS retro designs, What's in the Original name?
I was asked recently to fill in the background to the name 'Great Alternative Stores' and its abbreviation and logo GAS, well here it is.
If you graduated from the London School of Economics in 1968, you were an exception as the whole World was in revolt and the LSE was in the middle of it. I never collected my 'bit of paper', I understand digital copies are now available 'on-line' but I then preferred the sweet smell of..........and oops teargas as it wafted over the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris that summer. Thousands of students marched against the usual, consumerism, capitalism, Americanism etc,etc and I learnt how to build barricades.
From this, I returned in late summer to the reality of no more student grant and the requirement to earn money.I took a job working for the London Stock Exchange, London Wall and one of my 'stocks' was Great Universal Stores' (GUS). The tedium of the job before computers and the practice of spending lunch hours with noses pushed up against the window of Jessups, the camera retailer was too much and I left.
I got employment with Dave Humby, owner of Square One. He had left art school and set up a small screen printing business, The poster 'He who is without sin, jail the first stone', was his as well as the first long thin silk scarves for Laura Ashley. We supplied Tommy Roberts Mr Freedom and John Paul's 'I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet' and were the first to introduce a 'printed' t shirt to the UK, Silver Surfer, I think. Money problems resulted in me not getting paid so I took a break.
I rode my BSA Road Rocket down to Ibiza with my friends girlfriend on the back along with her sewing machine, pots and pans and an Aladdin lamp. John was the artist, the house he had arranged to buy off a priest was very basic, overlooking Santa Eulalia and I managed to crash the bike and mangle my leg.
Time passed applying Camille poultice to my leg and drinking the tea among other things.I joined John on painting expeditions to the mainland. The last job was the Custard Beast club in Estartit where one of the first GAS designs, a wizard was painted large on the end wall.
The house in Ibiza had a major problem, the roof that was meant to collect water for the 'cisterna' was broken and needed repair if we were to have water. I rode the 'Rocket' back to the UK along with bent front forks and a tube of 'bust aid' tablets to keep me focused to collect the outstanding wages from David.
He couldn't pay me cash so gave me screens, ink and stock in order for me to set up, earn money and return to Ibiza to repair the roof. I never made it back. John and his girlfriend soon followed and we took up residency looking after an empty group of cottages in Aldershot for a housing association waiting to develop it.This was ideal as a studio so the original designs were created to join the wizard and John produced the first logo, a risque mandala. The name of the company, obviously was Great Alternative Stores, GAS was born, well it was 1969.