The 50sI left school in 1954 with a modicum of largely irrelevant academic knowledge and got a job as a 'dog's body' in a commercial art studio, getting tea, running around London collecting and delivering and cleaning the studio. A year later the Royal Airforce requested my attendance and I joined Bomber Command, working on bombing ranges at Wainfleet/ Skegness and Otmoor/Oxford. The last four months of National Service were spent in the Command Headquarters Operations room. Demobbed in 1958, I emigrated to Bermuda and joined BOAC (British Airways). It wasn't for me, so I returned and worked as an invoice clerk for London Brick Co. I quickly left that and started back in the original art studio.
The 60sIn 1961 I married my teenage sweetheart, Margaret, worked for a medical advertising company and a graphic design group and in 1962, I went 'freelance', opening an office in Bloomsbury Square, London. Here, through some of the top graphic designers, I did work for British Steel, Unilever, 'Design' magazine, the National Theatre, the Barbican Centre, the Nuffield Foundation, the BBC, the Sunday Times, the London Coliseum Theatre, Greenwich National Maritime Museum, Gordon Russell, Conran, Spode China and many more. I also ran two short courses in basic commercial artwork at the then Central School of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art. A rare thing in art schools at the time.
In 1965 we bought our little house in the woods (we're still there) and in 1966 my daughter Anna was born and in 1968 my son Jamie was born - his company, Zone Graphics, now produces all my motorcycle printed matter.
The 70sIn 1970 I closed my Bloomsbury office and started working from home. Not so financially rewarding but far less hectic. Then, in 1976, two life changing things happened. Thanks to a designer friend of mine, I landed the contract to produce the artwork for 'The Lancet', the world's foremost medical journal. This required highly accurate charts, diagrams, maps and graphs to be produced weekly and went on for eighteen years. The other event was my purchase of a lightweight bicycle. I joined the local cycling club and my nine year old son and I became obsessed with club events and have both remained intermittently keen ever since.
The 80sThe eighties proved fairly eventful too. Regular time-trialling, two quite serious cycle accidents, the highly damaging 1987 storm. In 1989, having just returned from the first of several annual cycle training camps in Majorca, we sadly lost our family home to a house fire. It was built entirely of wood and we lost almost everything very quickly.
The 90s and NoughtiesFrom 1990 to 1994 the family lived in a caravan and two months after we moved into the new house, the 'Lancet' ended my contract. While I was building, the 'dreaded computer' had taken over, wiping out my business. Obsolescence as a freelancer is not funny at 57 years of age and since school children knew more about computers than I ever would, I decided to go in the opposite direction and use an old hobby of mine which was drawing detailed pencil portraits from family photos. I decided to draw six F1 Grand Prix drivers. These large portraits took some time to produce, but because of the very costly royalty demands of the solicitors, only one was ever published. That was of Ayrton Senna. A rather trying time followed.
Then one day in 1997, I was asked to draw a show-winning motorcycle and this one meeting led to sixteen years of drawing and the sales of my series of classic motorcycle prints. It also took me to the big bike shows at Stafford, Beaulieu, and thanks to my French agent at that time, M. Jacques Lestréhan, Paris, Montlhéry, Dijon and Spa in Belgium.
For the last twenty or more years, apart from the portraits and prints, I have photographed the many productions of the very talented Kent theatre group Masquerade, one or two weddings and thanks to the 'dreaded computer' I now have customers all over the world, instead of just in the UK.
...and the motorbikesMy association with motorbikes started early in life as I was born within two miles of the AJS & Matchless factory. However, twenty-two years were to pass before I bought my first bike in 1959 - a DKW 200cc machine from the notorious Pride & Clarke empire in Brixton. Eighteen months later I added a BSA A7 for £35. That was sold and replaced by a Lambretta 150cc for running round London and visiting clients in the 60s. I've still got it after 52 years - slowly decomposing. The last motorcycle I rode was in 1985, a Moto Guzzi Spada, a 1000cc item, which I dropped in some diesel oil on a roundabout. I sold it a week later and went back to my beloved bicycle - these days, almost as dangerous as motorbikes!
If you're still there, many thanks for your interest.
Heroes of Formula 1...
This one went to market,
the others stayed at home!
"Thank you for sending back my photo etc. I must say the picture is well worth the wait. I am so pleased with the end result, I can't get over the incredible detail that you have put into my picture. Some of my friends who have seen it are very impressed, like me they can't get over the detail. When I look at the photo I am amazed how you have captured the likeness, it really does look like me, as I was all those years ago. It's wonderful, I will treasure it for years to come."