Guest author Bryn Havord introduces the early work of English illustrator Brian Sanders, covering the first decade of his work, from the end of 1959 to 1970.
My first meeting with Brian was during the 1960s, when as art director of Woman’s Mirror, I commissioned him to illustrate a ten-part serial for the magazine. During the past year we have renewed our acquaintanceship becoming friends, and realizing that we have much history in common.
(Above: This is the first opening spread from the first commission I gave to Brian; a ten-part serial for Woman's Mirror, 1964.)
Educated at St Olave’s Grammar School, which then stood at the foot of London’s Tower Bridge, Brian spent much of his final year life drawing and painting at the Sir John Cass College of Art, less than a mile away on the other side of the river. He was offered a place at the Slade School of Art, but because of family circumstances he went to work in an advertising agency.
(Above: A portrait of Brian’s eldest son Mark, showing a keen interest in a worm. Always interested in and biology, now in his early 50s, he works in the radiology department of a New Zealand hospital.)
Quickly learning that most of its artwork was commissioned from two London artists’ agents, he joined one of them as a ‘gofer’. Artist Partners exposed him to sixty world-class artists and photographers and their work. He owes much to the help that many of them gave him.
(Above: He discovered that the main subject of a composition did not necessarily have to be in the foreground.)
His career was interrupted by National Service with the Royal Marines, mostly spent on active service with 45 Commando in areas of North Africa and the Mediterranean. During his final year he was recruited into the Intelligence Section because of his drawing skills. After National Service he worked with photographer Adrian Flowers, to whom he is very grateful for the assistance given in helping him towards his freelance career. Brian would draw most evenings after work, and a year later he selected his best twelve pieces for a portfolio, and went freelance. Adrian provided him with a studio within his own studio in Chelsea, as a quid pro quo for background painting and visualizing.
(Above: Through experience Brian has learned that some people who might object to being photographed don’t mind being drawn.)
At first Brian represented himself, gaining work from Lilliput Magazine, which he jokingly asserts he helped to close. Miles Huddlestone at Heinemann came to his rescue supplying him with numerous book jacket commissions at seventeen guineas (£17.70) a time; so keeping the wolf from the door. Brian wishes he had kept a copy of his first jacket for the hardback edition of Ossian’s Ride by Fred Hoyle, who later became Astronomer Royal.
In 1959 Artist Partners took him onto their books and put him on the road to success.