Former Guild member, freelance graphic designer and photographer Paul Telfer died on 24th March 2023 aged 62, just five days after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer (writes Steve Mitchell). His sudden deterioration and death were a great shock, not least to his partner Pearl Chesterman, their son Alex and closest friend Rebecca (Bec) Brookes. Both family and friends have derived a great deal of comfort in discovering how much Paul meant to the people he worked with, and he will be very much missed by all who knew him.
Born in Yardley, Birmingham, Paul studied at art college in Bourneville after A-Levels and moved with Pearl to Fillongley in north Warwickshire in 1992. Following some early, intermittent illustration and design work in the Birmingham area, he then spent 15 years with Stoneleigh-based agricultural and equestrian PR company Pharo Communications as its full-time in-house designer, joining the team led by Sarah Pharo and Don Gomery in October 1994.
Paul started freelancing in 2009, and under the name ptg design continued working with several PR and event companies in the agricultural sector. These included ASM Public Relations and its key client John Deere, Jimmy Birchmore Events, and Kendalls PR & Marketing. He also undertook many photography projects for Birmingham Royal Ballet, where Pearl is Director for Learning.
By nature Paul was modest and unassuming. Although he initially lacked confidence in his manifest abilities, he was undoubtedly a very talented (and generally self-taught) artist, illustrator, graphic designer and photographer. In the early days at Pharo, before he became master of the Apple Mac and the equally new-fangled office Canon digital camera – both of which he learned to use by trial and error, on the job – he used to lay out all his illustrations and artwork by hand, immaculately, on art card and paper.
“Get Paul to work his magic,” was the regular refrain from clients who trusted him to come up with the goods, whether it was a newsletter or brochure, logo, advertisement, graphic panel or show stand backdrop – and he always did, even if he occasionally strayed off brief. A stubborn streak was another of Paul’s character traits, signposted by a sceptical, arched eyebrow if he felt he wasn’t being asked to produce what he felt was the best solution to the task at hand.
Nevertheless, Paul’s greatest assets were his dry sense of humour and unflappability. His was so often the necessary calm at the eye of the PR storm, quietly working away behind the scenes to meet whatever unrealistic deadline he’d been set. Ultimately Paul was a great facilitator – he made a successful career out of making everyone else look good.