Bentley 1928 Le Mans Poster

Bentley 1928 Le Mans poster
This Bentley 1928 Le Mans poster celebrates team Bentley’s second Le Mans 24 hours victory, and the first of three consecutive victories for Woolf Barnato.




Bernard Rubin (left) and Woolf Barnato, after the race.

The sixth Grand Prix d’Endurance over the Sarthe circuit at Le Mans was won by a 4 ½ litre Bentley, driven by Woolf Barnato and Australian-born co-driver Bernard Rubin, covering 1,658 miles at a record average speed for the course of 69.11 m.p.h. This gave Bentley back-to-back victories, after their triumph at the 1927 event, and was the first of a trio of consecutive successes for Bentley owner/driver Woolf Barnato.

The race produced a thrilling Anglo-American duel as Bentley were challenged by the eight-cylinder Stutz, driven by Édouard Brisson and Robert Bloch. But despite trading positions constantly through the night, the Bentley crossed the finish line six laps ahead of the Stutz, who averaged 66.42 m.p.h. But it was touch-and-go for both cars; the Bentley suffering from radiator leaks and overheating, and the Stutz losing its gears.



Woolf Barnato’s Bentley ahead of Édouard Brisson’s Stutz.

Millionaire Woolf Barnato began to dabble in motor sport, alongside his many sporting interests, in 1920 and having become seriously impressed with his three-litre Bentley, he bought the company in 1926. After paying off its debts, he invested cash to develop more powerful machines, and W. O. Bentley found himself with sufficient funding to design and engineer a new generation of cars.

His enthusiasm for the marque and love of fast driving continued until he was obliged to announce, in July 1931, that he could no longer support the company and a receiver was called in. The Great Depression had hit the sales of high-end automobiles, and so, in a sealed bid of £125,000, Rolls-Royce took over the company, and their racing days were over.

I have been intending to draw a new Bentley Le Mans poster for some time, mostly because I find the brief racing life of the company and the fantastically romantic lives of their drivers so compelling.

I began drawing the car several months ago, with no particular idea as to the final design of the poster. But I did want to create a follow-up to the 1930 Bentley Le Mans poster I have linked below. Then I decided to place the car in a dawn setting, to further emphasise the gruelling 24 hour aspect of the event. Plus, I find the colours in this poster rather lovely.

For the text, I turned to a type style I have been working on for a year or more. This new hand drawn font is my own original design, and one that I intend to develop further.

You can view this poster HERE

You might also like to see the Bentley 1930 Le Mans poster HERE


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The one that got away


In early 2016 I was contacted by the organiser of the Concours of Elegance inviting me to create a poster for that year’s event. This is one of the most prestigious annual gatherings for classic car enthusiasts to display some of the world’s finest vehicles, which in that year was to be held at Windsor Castle.

The brief was quite loose, the only requirement being that it should feature the magnificent Vittorio Jano designed 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 and a 1937 Talbot Lago T150C SS, known as the ‘Teardrop’. This was designed by the Italian Giuseppe Figoni, who also designed the 1935 Delahaye 135 chassis.

Windsor-Castle-2016In this instance it was the influence of the American poster designer Edward McKnight Kauffer that I chose to guide me through the design. Although I was very pleased with this bold new direction, it proved to be a mistake, as my illustration was rejected. But at least, I did get paid, which for a jobbing commercial artist like myself, is the main thing. The organiser chose, instead, to use the Charles Avalon design on the left. Oh, well, you can’t win them all, as I believe they say.

You can see other examples of my poster work at:

The Norden Aquavit Poster

Norden Aquavit poster

A year ago, I was approached by Detroit advertising agency Lafayette American, and senior art director Doug Patterson, to produce an art deco style publicity poster for the Michigan distiller Norden Aquavit.

The brief was at once refreshingly loose and bewilderingly vague. Essentially, we needed to explore the attributes and aesthetics of aquavit, and gradually distil these into a graphic image to represent the product. And the product is? Well, I hadn’t a clue.

So my first stop was the fabulous comfort blanket that is Wikipedia, which is where I learned the five hundred year history of the drink, whose name, Aquavit, translates as ‘water of life’. The spirit, originating in Scandinavia, is distilled from potatoes and grain, then enhanced with a variety of botanicals, but importantly the prominent flavour must be caraway and/or dill.

Norden Aquavit’s owner, distiller Robyn Cleveland, having enjoyed a twenty-year career as a bartender and founder of the Detroit Chapter of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild, spent a good deal of time travelling the world, visiting distilleries. A three-week trip to Copenhagen in 2003 gave him his first taste of Aquavit, and he was smitten. He established Norden Aquavit in Michigan soon after.

Printed-posterArriving at the essential ingredients of the poster by a circuitous route, brought us to a marriage of Scandinavia and Michigan. The latter is represented by the famous sandstone formation on the south shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsular known as Pictured Rocks. This, along with the towering fir trees and abundant snow gives a strong suggestion of the Norwegian Fiords. Placing these elements in a V-formation in the poster, leads the eye, via the wind-blown image of the caraway plants shedding seeds, to the bottle and glass, set in snow.

In the bottom left is the hand-drawn block of text reading “Share the Spirit of Aquavit”.

You can see further examples of my art deco posters at:

Alfa Romeo 1936 Mille Miglia poster


3-AlfasAfter a year of sabre rattling between Italy and Ethiopia, Mussolini’s army invaded Ethiopia in October 1934, prompting the League of Nations to impose sanctions against Italy. As a consequence, the country found itself suffering severe shortages in many areas, including fuel.

But the Italian motor racing authorities were determined not to let a small matter like international condemnation and lack of fuel stand in the way of running an important event like the Mille Miglia. To calm any public opposition, they devised special categories for cars running on wood, charcoal and a mixture of coal and petrol, called ‘carbonella’. Only one of these cars, a Fiat 508 Balilla Gas, would complete the race, and that crossed the finishing line eighteen hours after the race winner, being obliged to weave through regular traffic by that time. As a result of a great deal of nationalist fervour and International boycott, only one non-Italian car, an Aston Martin, entered the race. This plucky Brit lined up against twenty-three Alfa Romeos, twenty-five Fiats, four Maseratis and a Lancia.

The three works cars entered by Scuderia 1936-Alfa_romeo-75Ferrari comprised of the new 8C 2900A Roadsters, which were purpose built by Alfa Romeo to race and win at Mille Miglia, and were driven by Count Antonio Brivio with mechanic Carlo Ongaro in car number 75, Carlo Maria Pintacuda with Stefani in 79, and Giuseppe Farina with Meazza in 82.
These three cars battled for supremacy throughout the thousand-mile route, with the lead changing hands frequently, although Pintacuda was later slowed by a malfunctioning carburettor and subsequently delayed by thirty minutes for repairs. Farina now took the lead with only seventy seconds separating these three magnificent cars after six hundred gruelling miles.

Brivio finally caught and overtook Farina just outside of Perugia, and clung onto the lead for the remaining four hundred miles to narrowly win by just thirty seconds. Pintacuda managed to recover, despite his delay, to finish in third position, just thirty minutes behind Farina.

The following year Alfa repeated their success in taking the first three places at Mille Miglia, an achievement that prompted the company to produce a road-going version, the 8C 2900B. This new model made the claim of being the fastest production vehicle in the world with a top speed of 110 mph and many of them were raced.

You can find out more about this poster HERE.

A. M. Cassandre and the modern French poster


A. M. Cassandre was born Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron in Ukraine to French parents on 24 January 1901. Although his father’s business as a wine importer required him to remain in Russia, the young Adolphe was schooled in France. In 1915 the family moved to France, and after a brief spell attending the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris (he walked out after just one hour), he enrolled at the independent studio of Lucien Simon, and then the Académie Julian.

L'Intransigeant         In Paris, the young Mouron fell under the influence of the avant-garde artists working in Paris, publicising through posters forthcoming cultural events, without concession to commercialism or popular taste of the time.

To finance his studies, Mouron took a job with the printing firm of Hachard et Compagnie, where he appears to have learned his craft, albeit through turning out fairly mediocre, routine work. In time he would produce some of his best loved work with Hachard, including ground-breaking designs for the French railway catering company, Wagons Lits.

In 1922 he set up his first studio in Montparnasse and began receiving poster commissions, for which he adopted the pseudonym, A. M. Cassandre. He quickly gained recognition, and with the poster ‘Au Bucheron’ (the lumberjack), created for a furniture store and designed to run in the Métro stations, he won first prize at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs.AuBucheron

His success enabled him, in 1930, to set up his own advertising agency, Alliance Graphique, with the poster illustrator Charles Loupot, and a young printer’s representative, Maurice Moyrand. Moyrand was influential and had many useful contacts, and through his dynamism the project prospered and soon picked up a number of high-profile clients. Sadly, in September 1934, Moyrand was killed in an automobile accident, and without his leadership, Alliance Graphique limped on for another year, and then closed. But this period saw the creation of what is widely acknowledged as some of his best poster work.LeRouteBleu

It was his audacious use of elements drawn from cubism and surrealism, two avant garde art movements yet to become fully accepted in the minds of the French public, that gave his best poster designs a startling visual impact, new to commercial art of the time. Always exploring and a readiness to experiment with juxtapositions of line and form that might put the viewer at some discomfort, or otherwise charm them with a subtle wit, gave his work an enduring appeal. A certain bravery was required by his clients in commissioning new designs, that’s for sure.

In 1929, after meeting the type founder Charles Peignot, Cassandre tried his hand at designing typefaces, beginning with the upper-case display face that he named Bifur. It never quite caught on, despite Piegnot’s promotional efforts, but undaunted, Cassandre pressed on the following year to design his next typeface, Acier. This met with the same response as Bifur. However, his third attempt, after many years of research and experimentation, produced Peignot, a commercial success as well as an enduring type design.

He made a number of trips to the United States between 1936, when the Museum of Modern Art mounted an exhibition of his posters, and 1939. Whilst in the States he produced many covers for Harper’s Bazaar, as well as commissions from advertising agencies for the Ford Motor Company among others.

A short spell of military service followed his return to France, then he turned his creative resources to easel painting (with limited success) and stage design.

His final years were spent in relative poverty complicated by bouts of depression, until, on June 17 1968 in his apartment on the Avenue Rene-Coty in Paris, he took his own life.


A. M. Cassandre and the New Vintage Posters logo


For anybody interested in the niceties of these things, let me talk you through the process of arriving at the design of our new logo. I do like to renew it from time to time, just to keep me on my toes as much as anything.

The previous design, I felt, had served me well but had served its time, and the new website required a fresh appearance.

The art deco period of the nineteen twenties and thirties offers an abundance of possibilities in type design, and these are integral, along with the illustration, to the overall graphic composition of the advertising posters of the period.

From the start of the process I was tempted to use Gill Sans, one of my all-time favourite fonts designed by the English artist, sculptor, designer and sexual deviant Eric Gill. But I use this font many times in my promotional material, and I wanted to keep the website graphics distinctive.

French-lawn-tennis-poster       Eventually I turned to A. M. Cassandre, quite possibly the finest type designer of the early twentieth century. The text that I settled on, after a considerable amount of trawling through my library of Art Deco graphic books, came from a poster promoting the Grand Fortnight of International Lawn-Tennis in 1932. This is a wonderfully simple airbrush illustration, pared down to its essentials, with the drawing and text, which was almost certainly also hand-drawn, taking equal billing. Perfect.

I scanned the text area and opened a Photoshop file, creating a separate layer for each letter. I drew each letter using the pen tool (and I do favour Photoshop over Adobe Illustrator for this purpose), then I simply filled each letter with colour before arranging and spacing the line of text. I needed to create a couple of (simple) letters, but basically they were all there for me.

For the new website, I wanted a grey and black line of type to emphasise the colours of the posters, which I think has proven a success. Well, I like it anyway.

You can see it in use HERE

1933 Monaco Grand Prix Bugatti Poster

Bugatti Type 51 Monaco poster

1933 Monaco Grand Prix Bugatti poster. The 1933 Monaco Grand Prix, the third race of the season, proved to be as dramatic as its reputation promised.

From the outset, there was no love lost between fellow Italians Achille Varzi and Tazio

The start of the race. L to R: Varzi (Bugatti), Chiron (Alfa Romeo) and Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo).

Nuvolari, and it came as no surprise when, throughout the race, the lead position switched constantly between these two arch rivals. Nuvolari led for sixty-six, and Varzi for thirty-four of the scheduled one hundred laps, frequently driving side-by-side and often touching wheels.

Then, on the ninety-ninth and penultimate lap, Nuvolari’s Alfa Romeo ‘Monza’ dramatically burst into flames when a piston broke due to over-revving. In attempting to push his car over the finish line he used outside assistance and was subsequently disqualified, leaving Varzi in the Bugatti Type 51 as victor, with team-mate René Dreyfus, also in a Type 51, taking third position. The Alfa Romeo ‘Monza’, driven by Italian driver Baconin Borzacchini, took second place on the podium.

This Monaco event was the first Grand Prix where starting positions were decided by practice time rather than the previous method of balloting; Varzi taking pole and Nuvolari in fourth place on the grid.

This poster celebrates one of the rare victories for the Type 51 machine during its four-year career, and marks the beginning of the decline in Team Bugatti’s dominance of motor sports events.

You can view this poster in my website HERE

Nuvolari pushes his stricken Alfa Romeo home.

Ferrari 1953 Mille Miglia Poster

Ferrari Mille Miglia art deco poster

enzo-ferrariEnzo Ferrari began his motorsport career as a driver with the Alfa Romeo team in 1920 and retired from driving in 1932 following the birth of his son Dino. He would now concentrate on management and the development of his racing team, Scuderia Ferrari, within Alfa. In 1939, after a falling-out with Alfa boss Ugo Gobbato, Ferrari left to build his own factory, but it wasn’t until after the war in 1947 that Enzo formed the racing team that we know today.

The team’s first major victory came in 1949 with the 24 hours of Le Mans race, and further successes quickly followed. But it was always his main aim to defeat the still dominant Alfas.

In 1953 Ferrari entered the newly built 340 MMMarzotto in the high-profile Mille Miglia endurance race, with the Italian driver Giannino Marzotto behind the wheel, to take on the Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 driven by the Argentinian, Juan Fangio. Surviving a couple of crashes during the race and being forced to cut a hole in the bonnet of the car to add oil after the bonnet jammed, Marzotto carried on and eventually overtook Fangio’s crippled Alfa to win the race.

Whenever I formulate a composition for a Mille Miglia poster, I like to place the drama in the open countryside to concentrate on the cars and the headline text, as posters are supposed to do. Many paintings that attempt to recreate the race will feature cars racing through the towns and villages of Northern Italy, but I find this a distraction from the immediacy of my posters.

programme-textWhilst I would dearly love to claim the full credit for the beautiful design of the headline text in this poster, I need to confess that I redrew it from this image (pictured left), albeit tiny and very low resolution, which I believe appeared on the original programme cover for this event. So at least, I know it is authentic.

You can view this poster in our shop HERE.




The Delahaye ‘Johnnie Walker’ posters


In June of this year I was contacted by Elizabeth Bruneau, the head art buyer at New York advertising agency Anomaly, an agency that this year won the Advertising Age magazine’s prestigious Creativity Innovators of the Year award. Elizabeth was proposing the commission of two posters and five key frames for an upcoming commercial. This would be an eleven minute online film for Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky, starring Jude LawJudeLaw and Giancarlo Giannini, and directed by Jake Scott of RSA Films. For the posters, which were to promote the film, I was given an open brief: “Just create two of your posters”, said art director Mark Sarosi. The five key frames would be animated as a ten second sequence in the film. At this point I have to say that in my long career I’ve not enjoyed the experience of an art director saying, effectively, “Do whatever you want.”

The commercial was to be a sequel to last year’s gorgeously shot six minute movie, also by Jake Scott, called ‘The Gentleman’s Wager”  in which two wealthy friends, spending some leisure time on Giannini’s beautiful luxury yacht, “rarer than rare”, agree to a bet. Law says that he wants the boat, but is told it’s not for sale. He says, “I don’t want to buy it. I want to win it. With a dance.” Jude Law wins the bet and the boat.

The Gentleman’s Wager II finds us in Giannini’s wonderful Italian country house, where Jude Law is shown a treasured 1936 Delahaye 135S racing car, again “rarer than rare”. Law bets that he can restore the car and drive it to Monaco by noon the next day. Giannini accepts the wager, adding that if Law succeeds he will throw in the house as well, and the film follows his progress. (I won’t spoil it for you, you can watch the entire eleven minutes here: Along the way you can enjoy an appearance by the lovely Chinese actress Zhao Wei, and cameo spots by Jenson Button and Mika Häkkinen.


To find reference for the car I drove the 250 miles from home to the immensely impressive Haynes Motor Museum in Somerset where the Delahaye 135S is stored for display. Here the staff were extremely gracious and cooperative, and gave me exclusive access, bringing the car into the yard for me to photograph.Delahaye This was the actual car used in the film, and is indeed ‘rarer than rare’, as there were only twelve built and each of them is unique in its bodywork. The car, incidentally, was originally owned by racing legend Rob Walker, who died in 2002 (you can read his fascinating life story here: and was heir to the Johnnie Walker company. Walker, in his passport described his occupation as ‘gentleman’, and I suspect this film is as much a tribute to Rob Walker as a promotion of the whisky brand. The commercial premiered at the Villa Mondragone on Saturday October 31 in Rome, an event hosted by Jude Law and Giancarlo Giannini.

By my standards I didn’t have very long to complete the work, just five weeks, and considering I would normally allow myself pretty much that amount of time to complete one poster this is what I call a rush job. The first poster features Law driving through the mountains of central Italy, and the second shows the race towards Monaco. The animated key frames show the section through the tunnel into France.

presentationThe premiere was a huge success and in an email to the agency a Diageo representative wrote, “The vintage car drive blew the socks off of people! And the premiere at the villa – really wish you were there! By the way – that retro poster stole the show and I mean it! It was surreal to see it outside the Sofitel Villa Borghese! And then of course at the premiere! People took them home so happily and asked for another copy in case the one they were carrying got spoilt in transit!”

It feels great to get such a heartfelt commendation from the client.

New Vintage Posters: As Seen On TV.


Here’s a funny thing. I was watching the second episode of the Channel 4 documentary programme ‘The Auction House’ last night, filmed at Lots Road auctions in Chelsea, and there on the wall, to my great surprise, were three of my posters. I was quite curious to discover how the sale went, so I rang Lots Road Auction House and spoke to Nick Carter, the senior auctioneer for paintings and rugs. He told me that they had sold for between £150.00 and £250.00 on the day. Not a bad investment for somebody, I’d say.

Please allow me to add that stuff gets put into auctions all the time, I am aware of this. The reason I was quite pleased with this event was that Lots Road Auction House prides itself in being very selective about the items they accept (although I’m not so sure about the sofa in the foreground), and this particular sale distinguished itself by being what the boss Roger Ross described as ‘fewer and better’ as part of his plan to increase profits.

You can view this very entertaining episode until March 24 on Channel 4 On Demand here.

You can find more details of the three posters featured in the TV programme here: Bentley poster, Alfa Romeo poster and Aston Martin poster.