Not for the first time, or indeed the last, we’re exploring the cross-over between children’s illustrations and graphic design of genius, this time in the company of Tom Eckersley.
It seems to be fairly well known that he did the illustrations for a couple of children’s books, but it’s rather harder to actually catch sight of them.
So today, here are some of the illustrations he did for Cat O’Nine Lives back in 1946.
Quite apart from the design, the book has an autobiographical interest too. It was written by his first wife Daisy, and is dedicated “To our sons: Anthony and Richard”.
I haven’t counted all the illustrations, but there are two kinds. Some are full-page, inserted into the chapters on and with the whole page overprinted so that it is a different colour, like the owl and the artist below.
Then there are smaller illustrations at the start of each chapter.
Some are entirely black and white, a few have a single additional colour.
The paper quality isn’t the greatest, and the book itself is quite small (about 4.75″ x 7″), but given that it was printed just after the war this probably isn’t surprising.
What I find really interesting is how simple his illustrations are at this point in his career. It’s as though he started out with an almost minimalist style, then became much more complicated and ornamental throughout the 1950s, and then, gradually, he unpicks this to become more and more simple once again.
You will notice that I say nothing about the story. I quite like cats, but still find it fairly fey going. But should you ever trip over it in a second hand book shop, don’t let that put you off. As you can see, it’s worth it for the illustrations alone.