John Ireland

John IrelandJohn was born on the 19th March 1949 in Aldershot, Hants and attended Farnham Grammar school, Farnham Art School and finally Ravensbourne College of Art and Design. He lived and worked in London from 1971 until moving to Norfolk in 1976. John has two sons, two sheep, a dog and a wife Tessa and has worked as a freelance illustrator since leaving college, principally for magazines and publishing, with a little bit of advertising. In recent years. A lot of his work has involved caricatures including collections of sporting personalities and a weekly drawing for the TV Times for over nine years.

John writes:
"I had been asked a few years prior to 1980 to submit ideas for a Guinness Calendar but nothing came of it, and when I was asked to produce roughs for a W. Heath Robinson pastiche I was initially reluctant, suggesting I could do something in my own style. When it became obvious that they - J.Walter Thompson the advertising agency - were set on doing it their way, I decided that it was better I should do it rather than someone else mess it up and do Heath Robinson a disservice."

"There were similarities in our styles, which is presumably why I had been asked in the first place. I had been interested in his drawings since I was a child, having bought his books at jumble sales. The whole job went amazingly smoothly and following a guided tour of the Park Royal Brewery, it was left up to me to decide on which elements of production I should highlight."

"This is so unusual for advertising, normally you are presented with layouts that you have to stick to rigidly and all the copy has been written already. In this instance I even wrote the captions. My initial roughs were accepted with hardly any changes suggested. I only had to make the May drawing a little busier and ensure that wherever possible both bottled and keg beer should be depicted as apparently there was intense rivalry between the two divisions of the company. The barman in the December drawing is actually a portrait of Heath Robinson with his cat 'Saturday Morning' and the customer is my Father."

"The drawings do seem to have been popular, and I still get reports of sightings by friends as far afield as the USA and even deepest Russia. At the time of publication I also got a letter from Heath Robinson's son, saying how pleased they were with the results."

Click here to see a very rare pre-publication sketch and the one that finally made it to print. Much like a 'Spot the Difference' competition!

Visit to see examples of John's work.