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Inventors & Inventions
Interview with artist Barry Rowe

When these cards were released in 1975 the artistic style made this set an instant hit and it now has a firm fan base.

Barry Rowe, the artist who produced the artwork for the Inventors & Inventions series has kindly given a rare and detailed insight into how this set was produced.

Barry Rowe

After a career in advertising as an art director, Barry decided to become a freelance painter. His book, Atmosphere and Light: The Automotive Art of Barry Rowe was published in March 2004. Please see Barry's web site for more information.

Information taken from inside the Brooke Bond album cover
Information from www.barryrowe.com

Q: Can I ask how and when they first contacted yourself? I imagine you must have been involved in advertising in some way for them to have seen your work, or was it more by chance? Once they had made contact did you meet up with the people from the card production team at Brooke Bond or at your studio? I'm guessing that they had already identified 50 subjects and discussed these with you, or did they have a bigger selection and chose the 50 they liked best?
A: I was commissioned to illustrate the Inventors and Inventions tea cards by Brooke Bonds advertising agency. They liked the illustrations I did for "The Bosch Book of the Motor Car" published by Collins, I think I did about three hundred pictures for the book. I met the writer for the cards Ken Roscoe, he was editor of the magazine "Speed and Power" only once, and we did all of the briefs and ideas by phone. For card number 43. Catseyes I illustrated my vintage Lagonda reg number HS6399 . I did all the visual research myself as I found this an interesting part of the job. Most of my work at that time came from advertising, it was my style which the art directors liked, the subjects were very varied but I usually managed to have a car in the picture.


Card number 43

Q: The whole creation process seems as though it was quite relaxed and I like the fact you did much of the visual research yourself, did you have a fixed time period to work to? Can I also ask what size you created the pictures at and what medium you worked in?
A: The deadline I remember was quite tight, I was on average doing one card a day or even one and a half illustrations per day. As most of my work was for advertising commissions this time schedule didn't bother me too much, jobs were always wanted yesterday. At that time in my career my technique was coloured inks on heavy shiny board, very trendy ! The size for the Tea Card artwork I think was 200%, I have no idea where the originals are.


A selection of cards from the series

Q: Do you have any preliminary sketches or rough visuals of any of the cards and did Brooke Bond show you printing proofs of the card set before it was published?
A: My visuals probably went into my plan chest and then lost as it is now a long time ago...they were just working drawings. The ad agency didn't show me proofs before printing in fact I think they only sent me one set of cards, I had to buy their tea to get another set.

Q: Did you have anything to do with the four figures on the cover of the album?
A: I have no idea who did the four model people, they look a little like TV Spitting Image style. I really think the cover should have been some card artwork.

African Birds wallchart

Album front cover

Interview courtesty of Barry Rowe - April 2016

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