Friday, April 29, 2011

Brian Sanders: "... five decades in the illustrative arts"

Today, guest author Bryn Havord concludes his article on English illustrator Brian Sanders.

The early colour supplements produced in Britain gave illustrators excellent shop windows for their work.


This series, in the prestigious Sunday Times Magazine featured the best shots made by ten great tennis players. The art director was Michael Rand.


Michael Rand also commissioned Brian to paint a series of cars used in fiction. The Aston Martin used in Ian Fleming's James Bond book was an MK3, rather than the DB4 used in the film. Brian used his own Aston Martin DB3 for the illustration.


Artist/Illustrator Roger Coleman, an old friend of Brian’s – they shared a studio at Artist Partners – kindly portrayed Goldfinger for this illustration below.


The series led to Brian being commissioned to paint the illustration for the book cover shown below. I especially liked the way Brian used the windscreen to show Lord Montagu's house, Beaulieu Abbey, as a reflection.


Below, this painting of Cleopatra, together with a painting of Ophelia, were commissioned as Shakespeare for Schools posters, published by The Sunday Times,.


During World War Two Brian, together with thousands of other children living in London, was evacuated to the countryside to protect them from Hitler’s bombing campaign, and Brian was sent to Saffron Walden, a charming market town in north Essex, where he and Lizzie now live nearby in an Elizabethan house.

His most recently published book is: Evacuee: A Wartime Childhood, the first in a biographic trilogy. It quotes him as saying; “I always wanted to be an artist and I’m still trying”.


It is a brilliantly written and illustrated book, evoking the atmosphere of wartime Britain. I was also a child at the time, living in a different part of Essex from Brian, and his book brought back so many memories of a strange and threatening time, but also a time of great joy and fascination. The adult view at the time was that the American GIs were “Overpaid, oversexed and over here”, and indeed many of them were a source of interest to many of the young British females. They were definitely of interest to many of us young boys with their stories of life in America and in the US forces; their chewing gum and chocolate were pretty good as well!

* Evacuee: A Wartime Childhood is available from price £7.99, plus postage. Payment by PayPal.

* Many thanks to Brian and Bryn for an interesting and inspiring week! Bryn has promised to follow up in the next couple of months with a further look at Brian's work post-1970 ~ Leif

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Brian Sanders: "... suddenly in the “Swinging Sixties”"

Guest author Bryn Havord continues his article on English illustrator Brian Sanders.

During the ’60s Brian’s work was also used in all of the earliest newspaper colour supplements, and Stanley Kubrick employed him to record with paintings and drawings made on the set, the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

(Above: Round 65. One of a series of experimental collages that helped persuade Stanley Kubrick to offer Brian the opportunity of portraying the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Brian drew on the set for two days each week, working on larger paintings in his studio.)

(Above: Although he worked on the project for more than a year, he only has a record of twenty-four of his works. He thinks that there may be more in the Kubrick Archive. Only two of Brian’s drawings were published before Kubick’s death, and then not until 2001.)

(Above: Collage of the Astronauts’ costumes.)

(Above: Preparing to shoot the descent into the pit containing the obelisk.)

(Above: This painting/collage was on a canvas four feet square.)

(Above: It was amusing to see the astronaut actors smoking and playing poker whilst awaiting their cue.)

(Above: Kubrick rightly thought that suits and uniforms would change little over the years.)

(Above: These are the cocoons the film’s astronauts would be frozen in during the journey – until Hal the computer murdered them.)

(Above: Gary Lockwood rehearsing. He ran on the spot whilst the huge centrifuge set rotated.)

(Above: The camera was mounted to go round with the centrifuge as the set rotated. The first time it did so, many of the exterior light bulbs exploded.)

(Above: Fitting the Helmets. When in their space suits the astronaut actors breathed compressed air, just as if they were on the moon.)

(Above: Kubrick – in blue – with the camera team. Geoff Unsworth (balding) the cameraman worked on several other Kubrick films. Keir Dullea is the astronaut in the revolving tunnel.)

(Above: One of the only two pieces published before the film was released.)

It was an exciting time, and it was if someone threw a switch on the 31st of December 1959, and we were suddenly in the “Swinging Sixties”, and many of the illustrators started to develop their highly individual styles, which reflected the fashions, music and arts at the time.

(Above: The king of the Barbareens was a ten-part serial for Honey magazine. Brian made three illustrations. This opening spread was full-colour on the left, bleeding to black and white on the right hand page. The art editor then lifted parts from each illustration to illustrate further instalments. Below: The second drawing.)


However, towards the end of the ’60s there was a decline in the interest in fiction in women’s magazines, and for some reason art editors and art directors started asking the illustrators to start producing more highly finished work. Below, this Illustration for the American Good Housekeeping, was probably the last of his scumbled acrylics. His work then began to reflect the changes happening in the 1970s.


Magazine work became harder to find on both sides of the Atlantic, but the market for paperback book cover illustration remained buoyant, although more and more photographic cover illustrations were being used.


(Above: Throughout his career he has been fortunate enough to illustrate hundreds of paperback covers. These are two of the earliest.)

Concluded tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Brian Sanders and women’s magazine illustration in the early to mid-’60s

Guest author Bryn Havord continues his article on English illustrator Brian Sanders.

Women’s magazine illustration was at its height at this time, and most of the magazines were buying a lot of second rights material from the American greats such as Joe Bowler, Coby Whitmore and Joe de Mers. Their work had a considerable influence on the English editors, art editors, and the illustrators themselves.

(Above: The final illustration that Brian produced using ink and gouache.)

By the early to mid-’60s Bernie Fuchs, Mark English, Robert Heindel and Lynn Buckham had started to replaced the earlier American stars, with Bernie Fuchs rapidly becoming the man to watch and emulate. In particular, the art directors and illustrators were fascinated with what they called the “bubble and streak” style; but we had no idea how the Americans achieved it. Brian remembers even using soap mixed with gouache in an attempt to get the paint to bubble.

(Above: In 1960, Brian was trying to imitate techniques he saw used in American magazines, without realizing that acrylic paints had been invented. This piece was drawn in pencil/charcoal on canvas paper, scumbled with coloured inks mixed with soap, and worked over in gouache.)

There was then a eureka moment when we discovered Liquitex acrylic colours and mediums.

(Above: Brian’s first published illustration painted in acrylics. Disappointingly for him, it was accidentally attributed to Wilson McLean, who said he did not mind. They were close friends and neighbours at the time.)

However, they weren’t on sale in the United Kingdom, but it wasn’t long before parcels of Liquitex paint and mediums were winging their way over the Atlantic, sent by friends and relatives.

(Above: An early acrylic double spread for Woman magazine. He tried whenever possible to make the location of compositions as important as the figures.)

Continued tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Brian Sanders' struggle "to advance stylistically away from what they did so brilliantly."

Guest author Bryn Havord continues his article on English illustrator Brian Sanders.

Heavily influenced by Ben Shahn and David Stone Martin he found it difficult to advance stylistically away from what they did so brilliantly. Much to his agent’s consternation he collected his samples, destroying all bar the one shown below, of him preparing ideas for his first printed Christmas card in 1959.


He went drawing in a breaker’s yard at the Elephant and Castle and at Billingsgate Fish Market, which was then between London and Tower Bridges – the stamping ground of his youth.

(Above: Billingsgate Fish Market. Brian’s grandfather was a wheelwright and may well have made one of these barrows.)

I always admired Joy Hannington’s work as the art editor of Homes and Gardens, in particular the way she encouraged illustrators, giving them considerable freedom to work in the way which most suited them.

(Above: The Red Geraniums. The first piece Joy Hannington of Homes and Gardens commissioned from Brian, was a stark ‘kitchen sink’ story about two old people. This was the second.)

The earliest commissions Brian received from this ‘gutsy’ work came from Homes and Gardens, and he thanks Joy Hannington, for the confidence she showed in him, and for the opportunities that followed.

(Above: Joy Hannington had been expecting a horizontal half page but didn’t complain when Brian delivered this vertical illustration.)

(Above: Yet again, Joy Hannington provided an opportunity to increase Brian’s subject range when she commissioned four pages of drawings of garden furniture.)

Readers Digest also began to give him work and he formed a working friendship with its art director Ken Ellis that lasted until Ken’s death forty-five years later.

(Above: An early commission from Ken Ellis at Readers Digest. Brian had completed four covers for a Nigerian edition of the magazine, when political events caused the project to be aborted.)

Continued tomorrow...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Brian Sanders

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.

Continued tomorrow...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

David Klein

1960s designer/illustrator, David Klein, is the latest subject of Toby Neighbors' excellent blog,







You'll find an extensive biography of the artist, many more examples of his work and some wonderful tribute illustrations by some of today's talented illustrators at

* Many thanks to Heritage Auctions for allowing me to use some David Klein scans from their online archives.