Designer Desire: John Burningham

Mosaic of John Burningham illustrations | H is for Home

Lyon & Turnbull is holding an auction next week (28th Feb 2018) which includes some fabulous original artworks from John Burningham’s own personal collection. I thought it would be a good opportunity to feature a few of them as part of our weekly Designer Desire series.

If we had the spare cash, I’d love to own one or two of the ones that are up for sale from John Burningham’s ABC, a lovely children’s book first published by Jonathan Cape in 1964 – estimates for these range from £1,000 – £2,000.

His most famous illustrations for a children’s book is surely Ian Fleming’s (he of 007 fame) Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. Other books of his own include Borka: the Adventures of a Goose with no Feathers (1963), Trubloff: The Mouse Who Wanted to Play the Balalaika (1964), Cannonball Simp (1966), Harquin: The Fox Who Went Down to the Valley (1968) and Mr Gumpy’s Outing (1970).

Although best known for his books, he also produced poster designs for London Transport and British Transport and magazine covers for periodicals such as Punch.

Just this month, Burningham and his wife Helen Oxenbury received BookTrust’s first ever joint lifetime achievement award.

Portrait of John Burningham | Maria Spann ©credit

Designer Desire: Abner Graboff

Mosaic of Abner Graboff illustrations | H is for Home

We’re signed up to the 365 Poster Blog rss feed and last week they wrote an eye-catching post about Abner Graboff, a children’s book and LP illustrator. We decided that we had to investigate his work further as we’d never heard of him or seen his work.

There aren’t that many websites on the internet that have information about him. However, the one person that does is someone we’ve been mutually following for years on different social streams – illustrator & animator, Ward Jenkins. He too came across some designs by Abner Graboff and proceeded to find out more. In 2009, he managed to track down Graboff’s son, Jon and interviewed him. Go visit, there’s lots of primary material and many more images.

Seeing as he’s American, vintage books that he illustrated are mostly available on the USA Amazon website.

Portrait of Abner Graboffcredit

Additional image credits:

Abe Books

A trio of vintage rams

Vintage ram collection | H is for Home

In a recent Designer Desire post, Adelle mentioned her favourite Christmas present of the year. Today, Justin’s collection of presents are the focus. As you can see, there’s a bit of a theme. Being an Aries, a small herd of beautiful rams was a perfect gift. We thought that we’d share a few pics as we know there are lots of fellow fans of this type of vintage loveliness.

Vintage Rodney Peppé ram serving tray

First, this fabulous 1960s tin serving tray with artwork by Rodney Peppé. These 1960s Crown Merton trays aren’t easy to come by – and the ram in particular is an elusive creature.

Vintage Rodney Peppé ram serving tray

It’s one in a series which includes a peacock, tortoise, lion, tiger, squirrel and elephant; these are the ones that we’ve come across, anyway. Isn’t he a gorgeous fellow?!

Cover of a vintage "The Derby Ram" book by William Stobbs | H is for Home

Then there’s this rare, first edition copy of The Derby Ram by William Stobbs dating from 1975.

Page from a vintage "The Derby Ram" book by William Stobbs | H is for Home

A magnificent, giant ram is the star of this picture book. There are charming little rhymes accompanied by glorious illustrations. We’ll have to share some more of them at a later date.

Vintage Bernard Buffet ram artwork | H is for Home

Last, but very much not least, is an original lithograph by a favourite artist of ours – Bernard Buffet.

Vintage Bernard Buffet ram artwork | H is for Home

He’s a bit more subtle that his friends above, but just as gorgeous. In fact, we have a top floor lounge-cum-bedroom where colours are deliberately kept calm and muted – dark greys, creams, wood, leather, wicker – a bit of copper here and there. This fine gentleman will fit right in!

Designer Desire: John J. Reiss

Mosaic of John J. Reiss book illustrations | H is for Home

I can’t actually remember when or where I first happened across the bold & colourful illustrations of John J. Reiss.

Portrait of John J. Reiss

He’s the author and illustrator of a trio of young children’s books, Numbers, Shapes and Colors. He also illustrated Statistics a young children’s maths book written by Jane Jonas Srivastava.

Although highly regarded, he doesn’t seem to be that well-known outside of his home city of Milwaukee. He worked extensively there designing exhibition catalogues, launch invitations and ads for the city’s Art Center (now Museum).

There is quite a detailed biography of the designer on the museum’s blog, written only last month.


Additional image credits:

Simon & Schuster

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: Jan Pieńkowski

Mosaic of Jan Pieńkowski artwork | H is for Home

Having not grown up in the UK, Jan Pieńkowski unfortunately passed me by until recently. Luckily, I’ve discovered his wonderful, award-winning illustrations as an adult.

Today’s kids will know him as the co-creator (with Helen Nicoll) of Meg and Mog. People of my age, will know his earlier graphic work from his time working on the BBC’s Watch children’s programme in the early 70s – where he first met Nicoll.

We just have to share the the Jessie Gertrude Townsend’s limerick that accompanied his illustration in their Annie, Bridget and Charlie collaboration… you’ll know why!

H is for Horrid young Hannah,
Who has the most shocking bad manner.
She went out to dine
With a party of nine
And she ate every single banana.

His illustrated children’s books (many of which are still in publication) are readily available on WHSmith, Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

Click here to see some more of our Designer Desire series.

Jan Pieńkowskicredit