ART: Periodic tables of geekery

Written by: Sophie Taylor

There’s always time for a career change.

We spoke to the man behind beautiful info-graphic prints, On A Sixpence who bloody loves his ‘sport, films, numbers and good design’. Inspired by his wife’s periodic tables lying around the house, Johnnie made his first print design as a gift for his football crazy nephew. Just don’t ask him which football team he supports. That’s strictly top secret.

Johnnie describes his pieces as geeky with a purpose.

“My objective is always to design neatly-structured art prints to carefully depict the key metrics of great sporting events and teams, film genres and novels.”

I want to create prints that I would be proud to display in my living room.
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Which one did you make first?

“The tribute to Arsene Wenger in a periodic-table format print. It shows every player he has selected for Arsenal over the last 20 years. Each cell has a player’s surname, initials, appearances and goals. Players are grouped according to their playing position.”

And what compelled you to make it?

“I wanted a gift for my football mad nephew and decided to design a print for him. I was inspired by the wonderful football wallcharts of the 1970s. My wife is a science teacher and so copies of the periodic table have always been around the house. I  love the simple way it communicates complex information and data.”

The name ‘On A Sixpence’ is one of Johnny’s favourite football expressions. It indicates the accuracy and quality of the beautiful game that he strives for in his designs.

“I want to create prints that I would be proud to display in my living room.”

Do you have a favourite sporting hero of the ones you have depicted?

“I learn so much when I’m collating the data and background information. My recent hero would probably be Frank Smith of Watford Football club who retired as a professional footballer in the 1930s to become a bus conductor. There’s always time for a career change!”

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The research was out of my comfort zone.

My favourite is the elements of arthouse and visually, the Iniesta Fiesta spiral. Do you have a favourite?

“Probably my Shakespeare spiral. It shows information on his 37 plays including the main characters, year written, genre, number of words, acts and speeches. The research was out of my comfort zone. I learnt so much. I just wish I had concentrated at school. My apologies to Mr. McCloghan. My next two designs will focus on classic hip-hop and the Grand National. I have found my niche and hope that one day I can turn this passion into a ‘proper’ business.”

Hear hear. Johnnie currently lives in Palmers Green, working mainly from home but sometimes, just sometimes, on the bus.

Most of my marketing is done on the bus. I find this aspect of the business very hard. When I need a break, I find Broomfield Park wonderful for a stroll and a coffee in the community cafe. The trees are stunning. The MyTime artisian café in Green Lanes is also a great  place to spend a few hours.” 

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I really enjoy the research ‘element'(!) of the process.

I’ve got some Christmas pressie ideas in mind. How long does a commission usually take?

“I’m always open to new ideas. Depending on the subject they take about 4 weeks. Once I have chosen a subject, I spend a great deal of time researching, categorising and arranging key metrics and then using an appropriate colour palette to reflect the history of the topic. Most of my research is done online and at the brilliant British Library. I really enjoy the research ‘element'(!) of the process.”

Good one Johnnie! What a joker.

Each image is finished as a beautiful Giclee print on heavy weight Hahnemühle fine art paper to the size noted and every print can be customised however you darn well like. I’m thinking of comissioning a periodic table of ‘dog breeds by fur density’. OR ‘different types of cider categorised by percentage and appley-ness’. Oh, the possibilities.

Have a look at his ingenious creations here and peruse your faves. Note to self: he also does mugs. ☕️🤓

Photos via Johnnie, On A Sixpence

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