The poster in the hat

Recently, Crownfolio junior and I were in the library together and found this.

Andre Amstutz Allen Ahlberg The Baby in the Hat

Now, surely this has to be the same Andre Amstutz who was designing posters for British Rail, the GPO and others in the late 50s and 1960s.  Posters like this one.

Amstutz camping coaches railway poster

There just can’t be that many people called Andre Amstutz to start with, never mind ones who can draw such delightful people.  Here’s another scan from the book, to compare and contrast.

Andre Amstutx baby in the hat end page

The progression makes sense as a career path; when posters weren’t being commissioned any more, that designers went into illustrating books instead.  It looks as though that’s what Fritz Wegner (see yesterday’s post) did, and it looks as though that’s what Amstutz did too.  Here’s his biography from the Penguin website.

Andre Amstutz was born in Brighton. He studied art and design at Brighton School of Art and then joined an animation film company. He later began a career in advertising, becoming Art Director at an advertising agency. Since 1960 he has worked freelance, designing posters and illustrations for a wide variety of clients, and more recently has moved into publishing, primarily as an illustrator of children’ books.

Now, I think Amstutz is a very under-rated artist.  This may be because he didn’t do that many posters – I can only find a handful of British Railways ones.

Andre Amstutz thornton Cleveleys British Railways poster

Along with a few for the GPO.

Andre Amstutz GPO guide poster

(He also did a Properly Packed Parcels Please one, which I’ve posted previously.)

And this BEA poster, which is the only one of his which I can track at auction anywhere.  Doesn’t go for a lot, but comes up regularly.

Andre Amstutz BEA poster 1957

But the ones he did do are great, so I can’t understand why he is so overlooked.  Perhaps making cheerful posters doesn’t necessarily do a lot for your reputation; people see them as cheesy and a bit uncool.

But however dour and serious you are about posters, how could you resist this?  It’s from 1947-ish, and is utterly wonderful.

Andre Amstutz Move Your Farm railway executive poster

This isn’t the best picture of it ever, I’m afraid (the colours are much crisper in real life) but ours is framed, and I’ve never ever seen it anywhere else, so I’ve had to photograph it through the glass.  Apologies.

But if anyone is able to tell me anything about British Railways moving farm by train, I would genuinely like to know.  Or, for that matter, if you can tell me more about Mr Amstutz himself.  He deserves more recognition.  And now you must excuse me, because I have a few pigs and a tractor to pack up.

  • Rather conveniently, British Transport Films released a 17 minute short in 1952 called Farmer Moving South showing exactly how BR moved a farm and animals from Yorkshire to Sussex in the depths of winter! It is available on DVD Volume 3 of the BTF collection. Worth a look…

  • Excellent. I shall, quite genuinely, go and seek it out – we have some of those DVDs, just not that one!

  • And I have found it – or rather Mr Crownfolio did. Amazingly, it’s on Youtube. Here’s part one and part two. So I now know exactly how to move a farm (and on the coldest night of the year to boot). Many thanks for pointing this one out!

  • Thanks for that – it’s always brilliant to hear from people who knew the designers first hand. I’d love to hear more if you wouldn’t mind.

  • I discovered your article while searching for an obituary for Andre Amstutz who died in July. I first met him in the late 70s when we were both teaching at Ipswich School of Art. I last saw him in 2013 when I visited him at the care home in Tunbridge Wells. You are quite right – he was an extraordinary graphic artist and should be recognised as such.

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