Heath Robinson’s Commercial Art

A Compendium Of His Advertising Work

By Geoffrey Beare
Publisher: Lund Humphries
ISBN: 9781848222168

I am, like many of you I’m sure, a great fan of Heath Robinson’s work. I’ve a handful of books that collect some of his work in one form or another, but none of them is a patch on this magnificently researched and wonderfully presented volume concentrating on his commercial art.

Geoffrey Beare has done an extraordinary job tracking down all manner of commissions, used in adverts, pamplets, brochures, desk blotters, calendars and more. They cover a myriad of companies manufacturing everything from paper to asbestos roofing, with obscure long-gone companies rubbing shoulders with recognisable household brands.

Not only is it remarkable to see the sheer scale of commerical work that Heath Robinson undertook but there’s also lots of insight into how the commissions came about, how they were used and even how they were received. 

Often he would be asked to tour the premises of the company in question to get a working knowledge of the actual processes, then spin it off by conjuring his own bizarre and over-complicated contraptions complete with serious looking operators and rotund workers. 

At 285 pages it is a huge book, and with plenty to read and learn alongside the cartoons it takes an age to read just one spread, not least because you need to gather in all the detail and genius of the machines Heath Robinson has concocted.

I can’t see how this wouldn’t put a smile on any cartoonist’s face if they unwrapped it Christmas morning. 

A five star book, make no mistake.

And if you liked that: Visit www.lundhumphries.com for some more beautiful art books.

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