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...


  1. Great drawings! Very cool that he got to draw on the set of "2001". Which two drawings were published?

    I would love to see reportage assignments like this today.

  2. Man Overboard is a good read! But Angel in the Corner is just too harrowing. Great covers.

  3. Interesting that during the 1960s' and into the 70s', Sanders' drawing seemed to progress with more accuracy. It's a delicate balance between being highly stylized and full of technique, and yet retain a level of consistent accuracy in the drawing of the figure. I think Bernie Fuchs, Bob Peak, Mark English, Robert Heindel and others, were able to find that balance and keep it going.

    Tom Watson

  4. Randy Mohr3:56 PM

    Wow! I love the 2001 illustrations! Up to now I'd only been familiar with Robert McCall's work for the movie.

  5. Wow love these illustrations, you cant beat that retro appearance. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Anonymous6:25 PM

    Please change "Gary Powers" to "Gary Lockwood".