Designer Bruce is back on campus

editorial image
Have your say

A WORLD-FAMOUS designer and entrepreneur has returned to Sunderland 60 years after he completed a degree to give students the inside track.

Bruce Robertson was back on campus to give others the benefit of his expert experience.

He has been at the helm of a successful graphics company for the last 50 years and has designed images and diagrams for several of Fleet Street’s top newspapers.

Bruce, 76, offered students at the University of Sunderland’s Murray Library, on Chester Road, some tips and hints at a guest lecture.

Bruce, who grew up in Ford Estate, also spoke of his work for Harold Wilson’s Labour Government and his visits to Downing Street, but said he was most concerned about the future of the industry he has made his name in.

Bruce said: “I have talked in Stockholm, Vienna, Paris and recently Lisbon and can easily fill three hours with tales of thieves, crooks, liars, bankers and politicians.”

“But I’m not an old man boasting about my success, I’m an old man worried about these students’ futures.”

“There were plenty of opportunities when I first started out, but the industry is so hugely competitive now and it’s tough out there for any young person.

“I hope I have armed them with some knowledge about money, business, and how to get ahead of the competition, as well as how to get out of trouble.”

The father-of-four says his understanding of business started in his father’s Co-op grocery store in Sunderland.

His passion for design developed when he attended a junior class at the Backhouse Arts School, where he then trained for his art degree at Sunderland’s College of Art, during the 1940s.

Following completion of his National Service for two years in Germany, he studied at the prestigious Royal College of Art, where Bruce socialised with famous UK artists such as Peter Blake.

By the 1960s, he set up Diagram Visual Information Limited with Bob Chapman, going on to produce 75,000 pages of design for more than 500 titles.

Bruce, who still lives in the capital but visits his home town regularly, said: “Panic and necessity have always driven me.

“But I genuinely hope I’ve helped these students learn something as well as entertain them.”

Rob Burton, programme leader for graphic communications at the University of Sunderland, said: “Bruce is an incredibly colourful character and I’m sure he has offered sound advice to our students.

“We are delighted he’s given this talk.

“He explained the hurdles you’ll face when pursuing a career in the design industry, what you need to get on in life, how to equip yourself, how much he’s earned and how many hours he’s had to work.

“He’s very candid about everything and sets out the landscape in terms of the industry.”