Welcome to illustrated books and more . . .
There is a rich heritage in the world of illustrated books that has evolved since the earliest days of Albrecht Durer when engravings were first used to create printed pictures. In more recent times early publications of Arthur Rackham, Beatrix Potter and others gave us some of the earliest colourful illustrated books.
Since the 1950’s and 60’s the quality of colour printing has improved enormously, allowing illustrators, designers, typographers and printers to produce wonderful artwork, illustrated books, children’s books, beautiful dust-jackets, magazines, posters, collectables and prints – and this continues today.
We found this lovely Penguin book with a nice cover illustration by the English illustrator Robin Jaques. Note how he has used the Penguin orange colour to add a nice touch to his delightful illustration.
In the 1960s Penguin Books had established a strong design style for their range of paperbacks and were commissioning a wide range of talented illustrators. We aim to feature more of these soon. Most paperbacks have not survived well so it’s a real treat to find one like this.
Those many unknown illustrators
Many illustrators have become famous for their work. However, there are many other illustrators, commercial artists and designers who remain generally unknown. These artists and crafts people have produced wonderful and striking illustrated books. This website celebrates this work.
Shown here is the cover of Boys Own Paper, 1959. This has a wonderful illustration on the cover by an unknown illustrator called ‘Redmill’. View this now.
and those producing great artwork today
Inga Moore is an illustrator working in the UK who has produced a range of wonderful children’s books. These include The Wind in the Willows, A House in the Woods and several more. Her high quality illustration and great story telling produce magical children’s books that are great to collect.
Artists’ Books and Lithography
Lithography as a method of printing illustrated books, particularly children’s picture books, had a golden era in the 1930s and 40s. Russian children’s books from the 1920s and then the Puffin Picture Books, amongst others, allowed artists to explore and experiment with this unique printing method, thus creating some truly beautiful books.
High Street with lithographs by Eric Ravilious is one of the most highly regarded illustrated books of its time. Produced in London in the 1930s it captures the atmosphere of an era.
The lithographs in these books were drawn directly on the printing stones or plates which allowed the artists to create beautiful overlays of colour. The Matchlock Gun illustrated by artist Paul Lantz is a great example of this style of illustration. Another example is James Gardner’s illustrations for the Puffin Book The Battle of Britain.
Eric Ravilious also produced a wonderful set of lithographs called ‘Submarine’ in the 1940s. These prints and the history of their development are told in great detail in the book Ravilious Submarine.
Hand-drawn lithography is still a printing technique used by artists and illustrators today. Read our article on the beauty of hand-drawn lithography.
Those skilled commercial artists from the 1950s
This cutaway illustration is by the Leslie Ashwell Wood, a British master of this detailed style of cutaway technical illustration.
Arthur Wragg – Penmanship, Poverty and War
Illustrated books come in all forms and styles but few break new ground in the way that artist Arthur Wragg’s have done. He is part of a tradition of artists who engage in political and social comment; artists including Hogarth, George Grosz, Dorothea Lange – and today Joe Sacco, Shepard Fairey and Banksy.
Fine-art prints and posters
SOME OF THE BOOKS CURRENTLY IN OUR BOOKSHOP
“I believe that the right books come to you at a time when you are ready to read them.”
Keri Smith, ‘The Wanderer’.