Thursday, 23 March 2017

Investing in illustration: Interview with John Huddy

Here at the Illustrationcupboard gallery we often get asked whether buying original illustration artwork really is a good investment. So we sat down over a cup of tea with John Huddy, Founder and Managing Partner of the gallery, to discuss the illustration market and discover his top tips on how and what to buy in 2017...

Why is the contemporary illustration market so unique?

The market for illustration goes back a long way, but it’s mostly been for historical illustration. The market for modern and contemporary illustration however is one that this gallery has created. When I started Illustrationcupboard 20 years ago nobody else was doing what I was doing. In fact there weren’t any other contemporary illustration galleries at all or any dealerships in Britain.  

To define and develop a new area of collecting or buying in any industry is incredibly rare and doesn’t happen very often, so this really is an opportunity. There are collectors who come to the gallery and consistently buy a lot of work because they realise the unique opportunity they have to buy artwork at entry level. This is work that’s coming directly out of artists’ studios for the first time ever. It’s not a secondary market, it’s a primary market, and to have the opportunity to create a primary market is a very unique position to be in. 

In time, these illustrators’ work will move into the secondary market. It’s happening already with artists such as David McKee, Shirley Hughes and Angela Barrett; their work is already starting to go through Sotheby’s and Christies and other auction houses. The secondary market will then inevitably develop, there’s no question about that, and then one day there will be a secondary market and no longer a primary market. That’s when you’re into the established art world, like everything else. 

There is a short window of opportunity for collectors, and that is what I find so interesting about this market. In 50 years, I know some of these terrific artists will be seen in the same way that we now look at illustrators from the 1920s. Their works will become classics and I think the prices will reflect that.

What advice would you give to someone buying their first piece of illustration artwork?

Buying is the same, whatever you’re buying. Your instinct is usually correct and your first impressions are usually right. Buy from the heart, buy from the gut and buy what you like. People often ask me, “What do you think about this piece?” and I always tell them the same thing: “If you like it, chances are that there are an awful lot of other people out there who are going to like it too.” And that’s generally true, so you’ve got to follow your instincts. 

What about buying an illustration as a gift?

The best gifts to give people are the ones that you really like yourself. People will appreciate a gift, however small it is, that has been given with consideration, with thought and some passion. People can always see that, I think. A lot of purchases are driven by nostalgia as people want to buy things they grew up with or pieces they know their children will enjoy.  I envy these children. It's such a special thing, to own an original from a book you love, something you will always have and can pass on to your own children.

Top five illustrators to invest in this year?
Alexis Deacon
David McKee
Shirley Hughes
Angela Barrett
George Butler

To discuss purchasing an original illustration or to talk about your collection, call the gallery for a chat on 0207 976 1727 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

You can browse our collection online at or visit us at the gallery at 22 Bury St, St James’s, London, SW1Y 6AL, open 9:30am – 6pm Mon-Fri, 11am – 5pm Saturdays.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Meet Ingram Pinn, Political Cartoonist for the Financial Times

This month we are excited to launch a major solo exhibition of political cartoons by Ingram Pinn, illustrator for the Financial Times. Since 1987 Pinn has produced his own comment each weekend for the FT and illustrated further articles throughout the week. Ahead of the exhibition, we caught up with Ingram about his recent body of work which draws upon key moments from 2016’s turbulent political landscape... 

Words by Ingram Pinn:

"2016 has been a tumultuous political year, and 2017 looks like being even more disturbing. With Brexit throwing the UK political establishment into turmoil and the election of Donald Trump turning US policy on its head by tweet, politics has certainly become less predictable. All this of course provides endless fruit for a political cartoonist to pick at, as every day one absurdity overturns another. Sadly for the world, the worse things get the more there is to make fun of, although these surreal times often seem beyond satire.

Early in the year talk at the World economic forum in Davos was of artificial intelligence and robots taking our jobs, but more immediate concerns soon grabbed our attention. A surprise (for pollsters) vote for Brexit was followed by the farce of Cameron’s resignation and Gove stabbing doubles partner (it was Wimbledon time) Boris in the back. Those who voted to leave found that like a collapsing line of dominoes their vote ended with Theresa May, who supported the remain side, as our new prime minister. With the motto ‘Brexit means Brexit’ meaning nothing and challenges in court I drew Theresa May perched on a Brexit rocket (it was Nov 5th) while judges held the matches to light the fuse. Theresa went to Brussels to plead the UK’s position where European council President Donald Tusk said that they were not a lion’s den but a dove’s nest. I drew them as the fiercest doves you could imagine. Eventually parliament voted to launch the UK into an unknown future, like the Toy Story “to infinity and beyond”.

The war in Syria allowed Putin to expand his power stirring up trouble all over the place and spreading refugees across the world. The sad plight of refugees were a continuing topic through the year, with the EU showing no unity of purpose, batting refugees across borders like balls in a tennis match and leaving Angela Merkel to take all the flack for welcoming them to Germany

Trump trumped it all by beating all expectations and becoming the most powerful political leader in the world. His hairstyle is a gift to all cartoonists, but surprisingly difficult to make sense of, as are his constant tweets, many of which were attacking his own secret services. I drew him as the statue of liberty, smoke pouring from the torch and the constitution replaced by his book “the art of the deal”.  Warming the world both politically and environmentally.  On inauguration day Trump leads the parade, banging the world with his America First drumsticks, while Chinese president Xi Jinping looks, on acting out the role of the new face of moderation." 

Ingram Pinn, 2017

Press images and more information from Daphne Shen on 0207 976 1727 
All Artwork is for sale. Online preview available on our website 
Weekdays 9:30am - 6:00pm, Saturdays 11:00am - 5:00pm 

Opening night private view and press reception; 15th March, 5.00pm – 8.00pm 

Exhibition runs from 15 March - 8 April 2017 

Join the conversation:
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Saturday, 21 January 2017

Long Live Princess Smartypants - Babette Cole

Babette Cole: 10 September 1950  - 14 January 2017
We were deeply saddened and shocked to hear the very sad news of Babette Cole's passing earlier this week.  We have not only lost one of our dearest artists, but more so a good and true friend.  She will be sorely missed by the illustration and publishing community alike.

Babette chats with Jan Pienkowski in 2005
In tribute to Babette, we fondly remember some of the times that we all spent in the IllustrationCupboard Gallery (mostly in floods of laughter as Babette had the most infectious giggle):

Babette and John Huddy celebrating Princess Smartypants' birthday in The IllustrationCupboard

Babette was always the life and soul of the party, throwing her energy into her artwork and giving time to the many fans of her 150+ picture books.

Babette signing books as part of our Winter Exhibition in 2010
She would always dress to impress - here seen with Sarah McIntyre and IllustrationCupboard staff all in obligatory bunny ears, for the launch of James and the Giggleberries in 2014.

Full of love and laughter, her humerous and irreverent illustrations brought a smile to readers old and young.

Valentine's Day, the Babette Cole way
Loving life in the IllustrationCupboard on Valentine's Day
Her books helped parents broach difficult subjects with humour, and challenged the status quo: a Princess who didn't like boys, and books about death, childbirth and growing up.

Babette as Princess Smartypants in September 2016

It was only in September 2016 that she was in the gallery, full of life and launching her most recent book Princess Smartypants and the Missing Princes, and celebrating 30 years of Princess Smartypants, with a fabulous cake made by Elizabeth Miles Cake Design, Dorset.

And this is how we shall remember her: for us, she will always be a Princess.  The world will be a duller place without her.  Long live Princess Smartypants.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Past and Present - a review of 2016

With only one week to go until Christmas, and with the saintly sounds of carols drifting through the air, it's time to look back on the year gone by and take stock:

Back in Spring we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Five Minutes Peace by Jill Murphy.  The Large Family are still able to bring joy to old and young alike, as Mrs Large seeks five minutes alone from her rambunctious herd.
Mr Large gets dressed

We then moved into Das Beste Von Allem, which literally translates as 'The pick of the basket'; a delightful book which has been contributed to by a number of acclaimed illustrators, including Axel Scheffler.

After which we held the spotlight over Children's Laureate Chris Riddell celebrating his success from strength to strength in his new role, promoting particular aspects of children's books, including illustration as a means of encouraging young people to get reading.

A selection of original artworks from 'Coraline' by Neil Gaiman

A personal highlight was Shaun Tan's Surrealist Vision at which we were joined by the man himself.  Shaun was nothing but generous with his time, talking with fans as he signed books, and explaining his inspiration (mostly his imagination, and young daughter) which has allowed him to explore using new materials, including the medium of sculpture, which he has found fits around a busy family life more amenably.

We were extremely saddened to hear the news of Brian Wildsmith's passing at the end of August.  He has always had a place in our hearts here at the Illustration Cupboard, with his characterful and colourful artwork enlivening the walls, and we remember fondly the exhibition we held at the gallery back in 2010 to mark his 80th birthday.

Wildsmith's A Troupe of Turkeys
Wildsmith signing books at his 80th birthday exhibition
We celebrated Shirley Hughes's illustrations in all of their colour and energy for the whole of August, while the sun shined.

The gallery was Morph-ed in true Aardman style in September, when we celebrated 40 Years of Aardman Animations.  Peter Lord and David Sproxton visited to sign copies of The Art of Aardman.

Ardizzone wowed in November, when we were lucky enough to host The Blaxland Collection, from private collector Simon Blaxland who had not previously exhibited his personal collection of Edward Ardizzone illustrations.

All illustrators mentioned above have work exhibited in our 21st Annual Winter Exhibition, which will continue into the New Year, running until the 31st January, so we hope to welcome you soon if you haven't yet been able to pop in.
Angela Barrett's 'Beauty Runs in the Garden' from Beauty and the Beast
Next year we've got a really exciting line up of exhibitions and events, with something for everyone. A couple of big highlights include our major exhibition of original artwork from Brambley Hedge by Jill Barklem, and an exhibition of the published artwork from Alexis Deacon's The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. We'll leave the rest as a surprise for now, but check back in the new year when we will be posting our calendar and revealing the rest of our shows for ther year.

With warmest wishes for Christmas and the New Year,

The Illustrationcupboard team.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Picture Book Party: Introducing ... Walker Studio!

Fantastic blog post from Walker Books on celebrating last night's success: Picture Book Party: Introducing ... Walker Studio!: Last night the team at Walker HQ cracked the bubbly at the Illustrationcupboard Gallery to celebrate the launch of our brand new imprint, Walker Studio.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

The Singing Bones - Celebration Event 26th October

Yes, October is here and it hasn't stopped drizzling - at long last we have an excuse to hunker down with a book, so let's make it a great one!

Shaun Tan's The Singing Bones was released by Walker Books at the beginning of September to much acclaim.  Inspired by Grimm's Fairy Tales, it has taken the essence of each story and boiled it down to key interactions; what Shaun himself calls "nightmare fodder" in this article by the Financial Times.

Fox and The Devil and his Sooty Brother on display in the Gallery this summer

We are thrilled about the book's release as the sculptures that illustrate the stories took pride of place in our exhibition: Shaun Tan's Surrealist Vision earlier this year.

All between 6cm and 40cm in height, Tan spent around three days on each of the 75 sculptures that adorn the pages of The Singing Bones; moulding, painting, drying and photographing until each figure was complete.  This article by Sian Cain at The Guardian explores Shaun Tan's transition from pencils to clay to create the sculptures.  Images of some of the sculptures that feature in the book can be seen here and we have a few still available to purchase via our website or over the telephone: 0207 976 1727 

Two travellers
The Devil and his Sooty Brother

In addition to the sculptures, we will also be hosting an event at the IllustrationCupboard on Wednesday 26th October 5-8pm to celebrate The Singing Bones, including an exclusive Skype screening with Shaun Tan.  We look forward to welcoming you to the Gallery on the 26th!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

The Art Fair and London Art Week

Art Fair
We will be exhibiting at The Art Antiques London Fair from 24 - 30th June on Stand E16.  The Albert Memorial and Kensington Gardens once again provide the stunning backdrop to one of London's most exciting and glamorous art and antique fairs. Held in a beautiful bespoke pavilion opposite the Royal Albert Hall and close to the site of the Great Exhibition of 1851 Art Antiques London brings together leading international dealers and discerning visitors from all over the world, who can buy with confidence at this strictly vetted sumptuous summer showcase for the arts.  Pop into the gallery to pick up a complementary ticket for two which has an equivalent value of £40.

We will be exhibiting a range of some of the most prolific illustrators of the 20th century: Edward Ardizzone:

Quentin Blake:

and Brian Wildsmith to name a few:

To view the full range of works being exhibited please see our website.  We look forward to welcoming you to stand E16.

London Art Week
Following our stint at Art Antiques London we then roll straight into London Art Week.  This hugely important gallery-based celebration of pre-contemporary art, will take place in Mayfair and St. James’s from 1 - 8 July.  Bringing together almost 50 leading specialist dealers and three auction houses, this year will present more dedicated exhibitions than ever before; and  the IllustrationCupboard Gallery we will be exhibiting one of our favourites: George Butler, whose work is available to view online now and in the gallery from 1 July to coincide with this spectacular celebration.

Displaced People: Reportage Illustration will focus on George's recent travels in Syria and covers the effects of the current migration crisis in Europe.  A selection of original drawings and watercolours are available to purchase online, over the phone and in the IllustrationCupboard Gallery.

The video below from February 2015 by Monocle Magazine explores the emotion and truth behind George's illustrations:

As part of the exhibition we will be hosting a very special evening with the man himself who will be reflecting on his experiences for the most recent exhibition.  Tickets for this event are limited to 25, and £20 each - please contact the gallery directly on 0207 976 1727 to book.