Shalom Schotten obituary

Other lives: Graphic designer for Thames & Hudson who worked closely with artists such as David Hockney

The graphic designer Shalom Schotten, who has died aged 86, worked closely with artists such as David Hockney to design art book covers for Thames & Hudson, where he worked for five decades.

Schotten’s role was not easy as he had to please both publisher and the author, or the artist subject of the book. Naturally, he had his own convictions as to what would make the most aesthetically pleasing design and the best advertisement for the book. Despite this, artists such as Lucian Freud, David Bailey and Hockney found him a pleasure to work with.

So many commented on his kindness and patience. As a Jewish refugee, his traumatic early life could easily have made him bitter and angry: perhaps it was this very experience that led him instead to be especially understanding.

Shalom Schotten’s jacket design for David Hockney by David Hockney, 1988
Shalom Schotten’s jacket design for David Hockney by David Hockney, 1988. Photograph: Johanna Neurath

Born in Vienna, Austria, Shalom was the son of Yehuda Schotten, a leader of the Jewish community in Mattersburg, south of the capital, before the second world war, who later made and cleaned feather bedding, and his wife, Malca (nee Fischer). In 1938 Shalom was sent with his siblings to stay with grandparents in Guta, Czechoslovakia. His father was expelled from Austria the same year and went to Chelles, in France, followed by his wife. In February 1939 Shalom, along with his sister, Alisa, were rescued and brought to France by a brave woman named Marguerite Kohn. Three other siblings were killed in Auschwitz.

In 1951 the family moved to Tel Aviv, Israel, and Shalom was employed as a sign writer, progressing to employment with the graphic designer Grundmann.

Deciding that Britain was the best destination for a budding graphic designer, Shalom moved to London in 1959 to do a one-year course at the London College of Printing (now London College of Communication, University of the Arts London), where he met George Adams, another Austrian émigré, who had trained at the Bauhaus and was then designing dust jackets for Thames & Hudson.

Schotten took over this role in 1960, settling in well at this cosmopolitan company that had been founded after the war by one Austrian and one German refugee. I met Shalom when researching my book Émigrés: The Transformation of Art Publishing in Britain (2014).

Shalom worked at T&H for more than fifty years, embracing the computer age and producing a wealth of stunning designs. Even his later dust jackets, for books such as The Great Builders by Kenneth Powell, and Nineteenth Century Art by Stephen Eisenman (both 2011), were fresh and up to date.

In 1961 Shalom had married Petra Buchholz, a German student nurse training at Great Ormond Street hospital. They had three children and settled in High Barnet, north London, before divorcing in 1984. In 1987 he married Patricia Harris, a librarian. She is Jewish and he returned to his faith.

Patricia survives him, as do his children, Malca, Hanna and Jon, and his youngest brother, Yossi.

Anna Nyburg

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
David Larkin obituary
Other lives: Art director in the book publishing trade who was committed to nurturing new talent

Colin Larkin

03, Jan, 2021 @3:48 PM

Article image
Stuart Durant obituary
Other lives: Lecturer and author of books on design and architectural history

Owen Durant

01, Oct, 2020 @5:21 PM

Article image
Bob Linney obituary
Other lives: Graphic designer who made posters for the music industry and supported grass-roots design projects in Africa and Asia

Garry Booth

03, May, 2023 @3:59 PM

Article image
Roger Farrand obituary
Other lives: Publisher of scientific journals who became a champion of artists’ printmaking

Joseph Winkelman

29, Nov, 2020 @6:22 PM

Article image
Ken Campbell obituary
Other lives: Book artist who designed and printed by letterpress and whose work is collected in the US Library of Congress

John Howard

19, Oct, 2022 @3:10 PM

Article image
Suzi Gablik obituary
Other lives: Artist and writer of influential books on the ecological and social function of art

James Marriott

30, Sep, 2022 @3:37 PM

Article image
Patrick Burke obituary
Other lives: teacher, sculptor and novelist who was head of graphic design at Ravensbourne College of Art for 12 years

Stephen Lobb

11, Oct, 2020 @3:46 PM

Article image
John Sansom obituary
Other lives: Prolific art book publisher who set up Redcliffe Press in Bristol

Peter Davies

21, Aug, 2019 @1:58 PM

Article image
June Fraser obituary
Other lives: Designer whose interests spanned the spectrum from graphics to product design and architecture

Zoe Cull

02, Aug, 2019 @5:20 PM

Article image
Geoffrey White obituary
Other lives: Teacher and authority on graphic design and typography in a career spanning 50 years

Andrew Slatter

09, May, 2019 @3:29 PM