Continuing our series of the other lives of the attendants at Dulwich Picture Gallery
Bob Cox is a talented artist.
“I think it was about the age of ten I decided that a new hobby was required apart from collecting stamps, matchbox tops, cigarette cards, soldiers and a touch of model making. Something more creative, so I started sketching. In a lumbered, cumbersome way at first but as time post some improvements became noticed. The last day at school before the ‘careers advisor’, when asked what vocation I’d like, my response was instant – ‘Drawing for a living’. It was the only subject I excelled at because I enjoyed it most of all.
Four years at a south London art College followed. Amongst illustrious luminaries tutoring were Bridget Riley, Charles Keeping and an impressive long haired chap called Barry Fantoni. After this higher education, with a fairly sound portfolio under my arm, I secured a job with a London advertising agency at my first interview as a general artist. I learnt more in my first year than four years of academic study, you just cant beat practical experience.
As a novice working in the city opposite the Sunday Times building, I was rubbing shoulders at lunchtimes in the pub with people like Roger Law (puppetry), Alan Aldridge (Peacock’s Ball fame) and Anthony Armstrong-Jones (a photographer with royal connections). I could see light at the end of the tunnel.
Working for smaller agencies, I built up a reputation for versatility. All my design work contained an illustration of some kind within, so as to create a drawing commission; there were plenty of graphic designers out selling their wares to the print trade, but surprisingly, many without drawing skills (another source for drawing work).
I kept files on everything and everyone – Bernie Fuchs (USA, taught me how to use acrylics for story work) Peter Sainsbury (water colour and painting architecture, I was receiving quite a lot of estate agent work) Herb Lubalin (USA, showed the way with expansive creative typography. Peter Max (astonishingly vibrant graphic poster design – it was the swinging sixties which I DO remember) and not forgetting Paul Davis (USA for surreal illustration). The rest just followed naturally eg. Maps, diagrams, cartoons, montages, packaging and story illustration. Bob Dylan gave me lateral thinking and Miles Davis kept things ‘cool’ to cope with ever imminent deadlines.
Without the mystery of imagination and where it comes from, nothing would end up on paper and eventually print. As the USA produced the excitement of rock and roll in the 1950s, it did the same in the 1960s with stimulating graphics and literature – namely people like Salinger, Kerouac, Steinbeck and many more.
Colour printing was coming to the fore, so more imaginative graphics were in demand to accommodate the upsurge of paper magazine supplements and promotional advertising. The past Steinberg exhibition is a prime example of these classic upsurge of graphics, his work is not just cartooning but dream like visuals that have an intellectual context of their own (Not a cartoonist – a visionary!).
Applemacs are amazingly convenient for commerce, speed etc but give me an HB pencil, dipping pen, a tincture in my hand and the ability to draught an image any day.”
The other life of: