Designer Desire: William Stobbs

Mosaic of William Stobbs children's book illustrations | H is for Home

Vintage children’s books illustrators are always one of our favourite subjects for Designer Desire. This week, we’ve chosen award-winning illustrator and author, William Stobbs (1914-2000).

Originally from South Shields in Tyne and Wear, he attended Durham School of Art before being taken on as a draughtsman at Rolls-Royce.

Stobbs taught at the London School of Printing and Kindred Trades (now the London College of Communication) prior to becoming head of Maidstone College of Art (now the Kent Institute of Art & Design) where he stayed for 21 years.

In 1955 he illustrated Ronald Welch’s Knight Crusader, which won the Carnegie Medal, “the UK’s oldest and most prestigious book award for children’s writing”. Four years later, he won a double Kate Greenaway Medal for his children’s books illustrations for Kashtanka by Anton Chekhov (see the illustration top-right) and A Bundle of Ballads by Ruth Manning-Sanders.

He returned to one of his life-long favourite subjects – cars – publishing picture books entitled, A Mini called ZAC, A Rolls called ARK and A Car called Beetle (see second illustration from bottom, right).

Most of the books he illustrated are now out-of-print. However, vintage copies can be picked up easily from Abe Books, Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

Today, sadly, William Stobbs is little-known and under-appreciated – we couldn’t even find an image online of what the designer looked like.

Image credits:

Lazy Daisy Jones | Little White Crow | Vintage Children’s Books my Kid Loves

Designer Desire: Owen Davey

Mosaic of Owen Davey illustrations | H is for Home

We often feature a Scandinavian designer whose heyday was the 50s to the 70s in our weekly Designer Desire series. Surprise, surprise – this week we’ve chosen a young, contemporary, award-winning, British illustrator, Owen Davey!

Owen trained at Falmouth University and is currently based in Leicester. He has a long list of prestigious and diverse clients including Facebook, Google, Sony, AirBnB, Transport for London, Lego, The Guardian, New York Times, National Geographic, the BBC, GQ, Stella Artois, EasyJet, Virgin, Jamie Oliver, Microsoft and Unilever.

Owen describes his style as, “Stylised. Friendly. Retro. Colourful. Narrative” and is inspired by, “Life, nature and aesthetics”.

He has designed the graphics for the TwoDots puzzle game and even finds the time to be in a band!

He has work available to buy in his shop. His illustrated children’s books can be found on Amazon.

Have a look at this amazing time-lapse video below of his work process creating his beautiful Dungeness crab.

You can see more of his work on his Instagram feed or you can follow him on Twitter.

Portrait of Owen Daveycredit

Designer Desire: Mary Blair

Mosaic of Mary Blair artworks | H is for Home

If you were a child of the 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond, the illustrations of Mary Blair will be really familiar to you. She was responsible for the concept artwork on many Walt Disney films. Bambi? Cinderella? Alice in Wonderland? Peter Pan? That was her!

She designed a breathtaking, multi-storey mural inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort which opened in 1971 (see the top right image in our collage and the film of its making at the bottom of this post). It’s 90′ tall and consists of 18 thousand hand-painted tiles!

The styling and colouring of the original it’s a small world installation is also her work. It began life as part of the 1964 New York World’s Fair’s UNICEF pavilion thereafter moving to Florida’s Walt Disney World. It has since been followed by later versions in Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

She was one of the main illustrators on the Little Golden Books series of children’s books (Another Disney project). Her output can be found in I Can Fly, Little Verses and Baby’s House.

Mary Blair also designed advertising and, on occasion, packaging for Meadow Gold milk, cheese and ice cream, Blue Bell children’s clothing, E-Z underwear, Hanes Underwear, Pall Mall cigarettes, Dutch Boy Paints and Baker’s instant chocolate flavor mix.

You can find numerous books illustrated by Blair, as well as books about her and her work on Amazon.

Check out some of our other past Designer Desire members here!

Mary Blair and Walt Disney

Image credits:

Flickr | Pinterest


Ceramic Mural from Animation Scoop on Vimeo.

Designer Desire: Hervé Morvan

Mosaic of Hervé Morvan designs | H is for Home

One of the most well-known Hervé Morvan (1917-1980) works is probably the design he produced in 1956 for Banania – a French chocolate drink company.

He designed posters and other advertising materials for lots of other well known brands including Air France, Perrier, Evian, Gitanes and Bally.

Between the 1930s and 1950s, he designed over 150 film posters and also illustrated a number of LP covers and the Printemps du Monde series of children’s books by Jean des Vallières.

His original posters fetch good prices and can sometimes be found on eBay or specialist outlets such as Vintage Posters

There’s a book of around 280 of his works which is available on Amazon.

Portrait of Hervé Morvancredit

Image credits: Invaluable

Designer Desire: Sean Sims

Mosaic of Sean Sims designs | H is for Home

This week, we’re drawing your attention to the fantastic work of Teeside-born and Brighton-based Sean Sims. We first mentioned him in our Tuesday Huesday series way back in 2012 and he’s produced lots more great designs in the years since then.

His work ranges from children’s book illustrations, aircraft in-flight meal snack boxes, posters, greetings cards, gift wrap, magazine covers… even a jigsaw puzzle! Last autumn, he designed one of the 44 Snowdogs that were auctioned off on behalf of The Martlets Hospice.

His style is immediately recognisable – with hints of Alain Greé, Miroslav Sasek and Kenneth Townsend. No wonder we love his work!

You can get a range of his designs in his own webshop or on Not on the High Street.

Portrait of Sean Sims painting his Snowdogcredit

Image credits: Agency Rush | King & Mcgaw | Yellow House

Designer Desire: Brian Wildsmith

Mosaic of Brian Wildsmith illustrations | H is for Home

As you may know, we’re massive fans of children’s book illustrations. We have vintage books in our collection by Miroslav Sasek, Bill Charmatz and Alain Grée amongst others. One illustrator we’ve admired for a long time, but don’t actually own any of his books, is Brian Wildsmith.

Wildsmith (who died in the summer of 2016) was an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator with a large portfolio of work behind him. His books were playful but educational at the same time and covered subjects such as ABCs, birds and other animals, fables and bible stories.

In an interview for the Independent newspaper in 2010, Brian Wildsmith explained his ethos:

[Before ABC] the text was the most important thing and pictures would just accompany it, diagrammatically explaining what was going on in the words. But I could limit my text so the illustrations explained what actually happened. And not just the physical event of what was happening, but the vision of the people or the animals or the landscape around them. I was expressing in colour the wonder and beauty of the world in which we live, which had never happened before, and would have been difficult to explain in words for children.

Some of his books are still in production, however, if you’re like us and prefer vintage copies – despite them sometimes being ‘read worn’ – there are always examples available on Etsy and eBay. We’re after a 1st edition of his Animal Gallery which teaches lots of the collective nouns like ‘a corps of giraffes’, ‘an array of hedgehogs’, ‘a herd of seahorses’ and ‘a troop of kangaroos’.

Portrait of Brian Wildsmith

Image credits:

Abe Books | Amazon | Hive