Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ronald Searle 1952

This Searle illustration, probably done for a magazine, is fascinating to me. You have to go back as far as the early 1950s to find a tattoo artist depicted like a university professor.
Searle creates an incredibly detailed backdrop for his two subjects, but your eye still stays on the two men, who are drawn with less line work. This type of realistic and thoroughly observed work informs you about Searle’s solid drawing knowledge, which served as a basis for his much more caricatured book illustrations. A true master, who continues to influence many artists to this day. 


  1. Searle truly was one of a kind. His wartime drawings, many of them done under the worst imaginable circumstances, are amazing.

  2. Mesmerising - that face looks so real. You say illustration - this was drawn/ inspired by a real life person/ tattoo artist?

  3. The image was published in 'Looking At London and People Worth Meeting' from 1953. A collection of drawings and articles that were first published as a series in the News Chronicle. Ronald drew characters from various London backgrounds and his then wife Kaye Webb wrote the articles, I believe. This particular drawing came with a report entitled 'The Artist Who Works With A Needle'. Depicted is " 'Professor' George Burchett, who, for nearly sixty years, has supplied the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and most of our gallant Allies with their local colour."
    His shop was in Waterloo Road where Ronald would have probably done on the spot sketches on which he would have based this final illustration.

  4. Hi!

    I'm Marcela Salas, from Monterrey, Mexico. I'm sorry to bother you by here but I've been trying to find a way to contact you.
    I am part of Dise├▒o PuntoMx, an international design and art festival at Monterrey, Mexico organized by students of Tecnol├│gico de Monterrey (one of the greatest universities in Latin America); this year is the fifth edition of DPMX (October 22-25) and we would really like you to be part of it.
    If you are interested I'd be glad to give you more information and details about the event.

    My e-mail is: or you can visit our Facebook page:

    Marcela Salas