London Tube Parodies

From the creation of the London Tube Map by Harry Beck in 1933, an engineer who solved the problems surrounding navigation of London’s Underground Tube System. He simplified the pre-existing maps, cutting out information regarding the time and distance between stops and also taking down the display of the lines so they were no longer geographically accurate but easier as a whole to understand and interpret.

This map has of course been edited since the 1930’s, but in essence remains the same in design and has led the way to influence many similar maps around the world including such places as New York and Japan. The Underground Map is loved by Graphic Designers and Tourists everywhere, for it’s clear composition and angular approach to the complex system beneath London City Centre.

And as with anything that is loved by the public, parodies will be created, and in some cases may even be done so and installed in their intended places anonymously. These spoofs add a comedic edge to the journey that commuters will take everyday, and surprise them so that they’d possibly take a photograph of the edited images or talk about them at their place of work or their destination. The only problem with this form of design is that it can be considered as graffiti by some and so would be taken down by officials working for Transport of London. These edits include modifying signs and symbols that would already be seen on the everyday commute. For example the priority seating signs say ‘Priority Seating – Pretend To Be Asleep And The Won’t Ask You To Move’ and ‘Toilet Seat – With Absorbent Fabric For Those With Explosive Diarrhoea’.

For the 150th Anniversary of the London Tube Map by Harry Beck, contemporary artist Mark Wallinger created a series of works to be found in stations across London. These pieces are called Labyrinth and depict mazes individual to one another and tailored according to the station that they can be found at. The objective of each one of the 170 works, marked for the 270 stations is to bring a new sense of graphic language which will compliment the work already set in place 150 years ago. The images are depicted in bold, simplistic colours and have a clean, one minded approach. In a way they are a spin off to the confusing mass of tube lines that run under the centre of London, they draw in the history and the quirks of the relevant stations and are an interesting development to the graphic design work found throughout London.


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