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:


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.