The appeal of inter-war travel posters informs this artist’s work
Brian James spent his career in advertising and freelance commercial illustration, producing ad campaigns and promo material for major companies. But cars and the Art Deco era have long been interests and as he began to concentrate on art, these have become dominant themes.
“I was always interested in the 1920s and ‘30s,” he says, “especially railway and transport posters of the time”. That inspiration is very clear in the clean, flat colours of the settings for his carefully observed cars and aircraft. “I work with a lot of reference materials and try to be as accurate as possible.”
Once he has structured the image, Brian works in gouache –“It’s what they used in the 1930s.” He likes to place a car in an appropriate period setting, with any figures dressed in clothes of the era – for example the woman in a cloche hat in a Type 55 Bugatti.
If it’s a private commission, Brian may be asked to place the car in front of the owner’s house. “But it’s normally my choice,” he says. “I visit Goodwood and places like that, choosing cars that I fancy and which are likely to appeal to others.”
Brian did many illustrations for BMW and the Villa d’Este concours: “As well as the main poster I had to do 55 drawings of the cars in two months for the official book. Not easy!”
As well as producing posters for Salon Privé, the Brighton Run and the Castle Combe Classic meeting, Brian was commissioned by the Duke of Bedford to create a mural in London’s Bloomsbury, reflecting the 1920s garage which once occupied the site. But if you don’t want to drive there, most of Brian’s work is available as prints.