Archie Proudfoot has engineered a modern artistic twist on the traditional initial mug, creating a series of 27 unique designs for a new product line at Tate Gallery shops. Each letter is inspired by the initial of an artist, an art movement, or both so that ‘A is for Apple’ becomes ‘A is for Abstract Expression’, ‘B is for Bauhaus’ etc.

As an artist and sign painter, Archie has drawn on the works within the Tate collection, alongside his own typographic influences, to create this unique, expressive alphabet. The mugs at large serve as a playful educational puzzle, with the designs for each letter incorporating the spirit of movements like Surrealism or the motifs of individual artists like Picasso for visitors to identify.

While some of the pieces will be immediately obvious to those with a basic knowledge of modern art, many are more obscure or cryptic and take some work to decypher. Fortunately each mug is accompanied by a short text detailing the letter’s reference and the impact of that artist or movement. There is also a poster to follow with the full alphabet and accompanying key.

Original painted pieces from Archie Proudfoot

The alphabet mugs are available from today at the gallery shops in Tate Modern, Tate Britain and Tate Online. They are 100% Bone China, printed and decorated in the UK and are priced at £18 each. The full alphabet will also be available as a 50cm x 70cm poster in November.


“D is for Dali and dada. The letterform is provided by the irreverent ‘anti-art’ dada movement’s exhibition poster of 1920 and then melted in honour of the timeless bizarro world of surrealism’s favourite eccentric son, Salvador.”

“E is for expressionism. A movement that put the messiness of the subjective experience above the neatly representational. It liberated brushes and palettes first in Germany and then across the art world, setting painting on a path to ever greater abstraction.”

“J is for Jasper Johns. The all-American painter and printmaker was a key player in the birth of pop art. He took objects “the mind already knows” re-rendering them in a strangely unfamiliar and yet representational style.”

“L is for Roy Lichtenstein, the comic book kid of American pop art. He put the disposable imagery of comic strips under the microscope, blowing them up into large paintings giving them prominence and a permanence in the story of modern art.”

Full A – &Z from Archie Proudfoot at Tate

Poster and key from Archie Proudfoot at Tate