After leaving secondary school I studied for a short while at Barking College of Technology but became frustrated by the lack of ambition of the course there. So I applied to Hornsey College of Art where to my great joy I was accepted and spent three demanding yet enjoyable years learning the profession of the technical Illustrator. Precise line drawing and airbrush work were de rigeur in those days and I learned these skills from the excellent teachers there. Alongside the regular college assignments I was asked with increasing frequency if I would be interested in taking on freelance work and spent many weekends and evenings working on these extra jobs from which I learnt a great deal. I graduated with honours in the summer of 1972 on a project about airships that had caught my deep interest at the time. I recall spending many long days researching the subject in the Science Museum Library before sketching out my ideas, usually on the train home, as to how I could translate the fascination I had for the subject into the kind of illustrations I envisioned for my graduation project.
I was I recall, much impressed by the simple elegance of this rotary engine when I came across one day in the Science Museum in London. I drew it in my sketchbook on the spot and took a number of reference shots with my trusty Praktica SLR. This led to the final illustration in ink using technical pens. When I started freelancing in 1973 I used it as a promotional poster with remarkable success, the image seeming to appeal to others in the same way it did to me. 1971
I developed a great fascination for heavy duty earth-moving machinery during my college years. For some reason I just loved all this vast, heavy metal and this splendid German excavator was something I just had to get down onto artboard! An early attempt at controlled airbrush work sometime in 1971
I acquired an interest for cartography quite early on (I had studied geography at A-level at secondary school so maybe this was the origin). This was an attempt to show all the transport options for the UK using acetate overlays for each separate form over an airbrushed base map. There was some interst in it from BEA at the time but unfortunately it didn't come to anything. 1972
Dave Penney, a student colleague a year above me, passed on some freelance work for Multivent Air Conditioning. I worked together with a designer (Philip Mann) on various catalogues and brochures whilst I was still at college and learned a great deal about how the design business actually worked. 1972
Part of my graduation project. I became deeply fascinated in (the history of) airships and did a great deal of research into them at the Science Museum Library in London. The Hindenburg, one of the most successful airships ever built, met an untimely end when its hydrogen filled cells inexplicably caught fire when docking at New Jersey in the USA in 1937. There were no contemporary illustrations of this maginificent vessel and so I decided to try to put this right. 1972
Another component of my graduation project. Until I researched the subject I had no idea just how sophisticated an infrastructure had been developed for airships, particularly in Germany. The notion that an enormous shed for housing an airship could be rotated so that it could emerge without being damaged by a sudden gust of wind simply amazed me and I just had to make an illustration of it. 1972
After leaving college I got a job with Shirley Parfitt's studio in London where I worked on illustrations for a so-called 'partwork' for children about science. Shirley decided to leave the studio in Charlotte Street she was renting and I proposed to two college colleagues - David Penney and Terry Allen - that we should take it over. From that time onwards we shared the space at Charlotte Street between us and I worked as a freelancer for various publishers, design studios and advertising agencies in London. They were happy years where hard work was always combined with great fun and a lot of laughter. I have very fond memories of my time at the studio in Charlotte Street and with my decision to move to The Netherlands in 1978 it was with quite some sadness that I left those much enjoyed days there behind me.
One of the first jobs I did for Shirley Parfitt. I recall spending severalk hours in the British Museum library looking up information about big steam locos. 1972
It took me quite a long time to work out just how these two different types of lock worked before I could start on an illustration. 1972
I supplied all the supplementary illustrations for this Sunday Times article about house construction showing the various points in more detail. 1975
An example of one of the detail illustrations. I got a lot of publicity via this article and it led to several more commissions. 1975
I was asked by IVR/Mitchell Beazley what I would like to illustrate for their Visual Resource project and chose lighthouses. This is a detail of the famous Eddystone. 1973
This illustration shows a very heavy fresnel lens floating in a bearing of mercury, something that amazed me at the time. 1973
In sandy areas this type of deep screw pile lighthouse was usually deployed, as in the case of the Maplin Sands lighthouse. 1973
One of the most modern lighthouses, this one designed by Christiani Nielsen involved sinking a concrete caisson onto the sea bed. 1973
I made several illustrations for the AA's magazine, Drive, in this case about the best cars of the year. 1974
Another Drive illustration, this time of an impossible car built from the best parts of contemporary models. 1974
One of several illustrations about the driving cabs of extraordinary vehicles, in this case a container crane. 1975
The Flixborough disaster in 1974 led to an article about the loads that were being transported on UK roads. A photographic collage for Drive Magazine. 1974
One of many illustrations I made for Orbis Publishing's partwork 'Green Fingers' about gardening. 1975
Another Green Fingers illustration, this time of the various types of lawnmower available to the dedicated gardener. 1975
An early investigation of things Dutch, this illustration for the AA Touring Guide to Ireland is of a fluyt. 1976
An illustration of another ship for the same book, this time the ill-fated but magnificent Lusitania. 1975
Resulting from my interest in airships, this was a commission to illustrate the newest developments in this airship technology. 1975
I worked on a book for Orbis Publishing about how to sail a dinghy and this was an opening illustration to show what and where evrything was. 1976
For the same book I worked out a way of using puppets as a basis for the illustrations to simulate the actions involved in sailing the dinghy. 1976
For Brian Innes of Orbis I produced many of these maps of harbours for the partwork 'The Sea' showing information about how to approach them safely. 1977
I was asked by Cassell's to come up with a new concept for their TEC series book covers and they loved this semi-surrealistic approach to technology. 1977
Bob Morley of Quarto Publishing asked me to design and illustrate some futuristic vehicles for their Space Traveller's Hand Book which proved to be a lot of fun. 1978
An illustration of a cute little Titan lander for the same book. 1978
Last but not least a diagram showing how a rocket engine works for the same book, for some reason a favourite of mine. 1978
Before moving there we made several trips to The Netherlands to visit prospective clients. Ben Bos of Total Design asked me to illustrate this cargo ship for Chase International. 1978
As a farewell gift for a good friend and long-time Lancia enthusiast I drew this design for a special glove to enable you to reach all the parts regular spanners can't. 1978
The years at 19 Charlotte Street were very happy ones for me and after we moved I would go back regularly to visit Grant, our landlord at the time, who had become a good friend. He used the studio at the front of the building with the railings outside and rented the back room out to Dave, Terry and myself. Grant retired long ago and Bertorelli eventually sold up after a long and successful life as restaurateur. When I was there recently I was shocked to see what had happened in the name of modern commerce to the delightful building I once knew.
Bertorelli's had been at this address for many years and was a well-known London landmark. The studio space we rented was right at the top and at the back.
A general view of the studio as we had arranged it. This was a communal area where we could use the phone, plan work, leave items for collection, etc
The door to the studio with Mecanorma drawer unit, our reference books and one of Dave's clocks in the foreground.
As it is now, rather gaudy and to my mind completely spoiled. Nice to see that the railing at the top is still there though.