A glorious time for illustrators!

Imagine, or remember, a time before television, before ipads and computers with photoshop, before even airbrushes and the full development of photography. A time when the illustrator was King, or Queen, and could work magic with a bottle of ink and a nib pen. A time when illustration was the foremost medium for mass entertainment!

Here are a couple of pieces from one of my favorite illustrators: C.D. GIBSON

Wizard were in Great Marlborough street and the top end of Regent street in the 70's I think. You could pull the felt blocks out of the Markers and produce big graduated backgrounds. One old studio was Plum which are still going. Still have the airbrush, Rotring pens and a few glass Markers.

The smells of the sixties! With my art courses I always stress that being able to draw is essential otherwise you will be forever frustrated in progressing. Drawing is about observation as well as a technical skill. about 15 years ago I revisited the car design department of Fords at Dunton and was pleased to see that even though computers were everywhere the initial design ideas were still rendered in pencil, markers and pastels just as when I was at college on Dagenham and our tutors were from Fords on the 1960's.

Many years ago I knew Bob Gibson who illustrated the Beatle's 'Magical Mystery Tour' EP cover-book. I was going up to Dundee to visit family, and Bob being a Scot as well as an artist, recommended I go to see an exhibition of Dudley D. Watkins' work after he died in 1969. Sure, like most of us I knew his Dandy, Beano, The Broons and Oor Wullie work plus some, but this was an exhibition of what was not in D.C. Thompson comics and papers and he was very, very good indeed. Because I know that, I have a little store of some of his comic classics but would love some of his more serious, unpublished work.

when I was at JWT in the 70s, we could select photographers such as Terrence Donovan, and ( airbrush illustrators ) such as Michael English. Oh how privileged we were, the one guy that stood out for me was illustrator Alan Cracknall.

His back and white line work reproduced so superbly in the RadioTimes, but even he used a little technology in his ink renderings. Ie occasionally doing a 'before and after' illustration, reworking a montage clearly using a PMT ( photo mechanical transfer ).

( also called Bromide...now where's me tea )

Point taken about the airbrush Ron, though I was careful to select a couple of pieces that clearly did not involve one.

Rotring pens, yes! State of the art at the time, and who could forget good old Letraset?

I've got hundreds of Copics,must be about 300euros worth that will never be used again. Never kept even one little bottle of Magic Markers....I remember being quite upset when the glass bottles went. Like you Les,I have to see some drawing skills,I think if you've been trained that way you cant avoid it.

@ Les.

I totally agree with the sentiment Les, although as The Gibson Girls for "Life" period ran from 1886 to 1916, and the Airbrush was patented in 1876 and Atomisers by 1893 were already in production, not only were Airbrushes about, but our hero may have even used one. ( ah Wiki wonders for smart ars*s ) I still have my college DeVillbiss.

I remember having great fun with Rotring pens... line drawings without the 'Pen and Ink'...as for Cow gum and markers, If anyone's interested 'I know a guy'.

I know what you mean about people in the industry not being able to draw and getting away with it. When I was back in the UK, I spent a good deal of time assessing and accrediting college animation courses and they were always surprised at our insistence on introducing a strong life drawing strand to their courses.

Thank you for your kind comments about my animal portraits. I do get sufficient calls, but it will never become more than a paying hobby. I find it a useful and pleasurable way of contributing to various dog rescue sites by donating portraits in their fundraising auctions.

Don't get me wrong, Neil, I do embrace new technology, though I am not particularly happy with what ts introduction has done to my 2-D animation industry. I would, however, be very happy to sit down of an evening with a couple of bottles of wine and reminisce about old times. There was something very satisfying after a day of literally 'cutting and pasting'. (Yes, the smell f cow gum!), or actually developing and printing photographs, physically cutting and splicing film and sound tape. You actually felt justified going out to the union bar and letting your hair down.

Then later in the animation studio, spending a day keeping a point on your pencil along with twenty or so colleagues and going home smelling of graphite. Even today, my own grown up kids can remember that smell.

Thank you for the web site, right up my street! I am particularly fond of the collective work of the London Sketch Club. I can't help it, if I can't see basic draftsmanship and drawing skill behind a piece, it vever holds my attention.

I'd completely forgotten about Cow Gum......Magic Markers were lethal,especially the black ones.But they helped to get through all nighters! Pretty toxic,wonder how we survived. I dont recall Wizard,which years was that?

There still seems to be a large number of conventional illustrators and illustration agencies around but illustration just doesn't appear in mainstream ads and magazines. I used to commission airbrush artists like Syd Brak who produced super realistic work.

A favourite site of mine today is www.todaysinspiration.blogspot.fr which highlights the golden age (?) of illustration. Mainly American but with some UK illustrators.

I worked for a studio called Wizard in London, among others, and we produced reems of visuals and storyboards for the top ad agencies of the time. You could by pads with the tv screens already printed. Aaaah! the small of Magic Markers and Cow Gum.

So true Les.One of my favourites is Montgomery Flagg. Even 50years ago there was much more realistic drawn illustrations,wonder if it'll come back.I'm a storyboard artist and I'm amazed to see storyboards produced by people who cant even draw,but all put together from photos and photoshopped.My work has diminished a lot because of this,the super finished images are loved by the clients,so thats what the agencies continue to show.

I looked at your pet drawings,excellent work.Do you get much demand for them?