John Lawrence

John Lawrence (150 years of art and illustration study, Brighton, UK, Faculty of Arts)I have been a part-time visiting professor at London University of the Arts and am currently at Cambridge School of Art (Anglia Ruskin University) where I lecture one day a week on the MA Course in Children’s Book Illustration. I was Master of the Art Workers’ Guild in 1990 and my work is represented in the Ashmolean, the Victoria and Albert Museum (V & A), Manchester Metropolitan University (where I have an archive), Seven Stories in Newcastle and collections in the USA.

I have illustrated many books in different media, but have always had a preference for my engraved work. In the last 15 years I have concentrated more on this area, particularly in children’s books, where I engrave both on wood and vinyl: I print and collage using textured surfaces mainly from the wood plank. I am currently illustrating a large edition of Treasure Island for Walker Books, which will incorporate most of my methods of working.

John Lawrence (150 years of art and illustration study, Brighton, UK, Faculty of Arts)

John R Biggs had recently been appointed as Head of the Graphic Design Department when he gave me a day’s teaching at Brighton School of Art in September 1960. John Biggs took on several young illustrators and designers. I was taken on as a wood engraver, John Vernon Lord for his amazing sketch books and Raymond Briggs, I think, for his drawing ability. None of us had had very much professional experience as illustrators at that time. Anthony Cobb and Justin Todd were also employed during this period.

John Lawrence (150 years of art and illustration study, Brighton, UK, Faculty of Arts)


The new building was being planned and our students worked in various nooks and crannies in the Regency houses overlooking Grand Parade. After a time I was set up with an Albion press, in a space not much larger than a cupboard. This made printing rather claustrophobic but the studio itself was roomy enough. I enjoyed working with the students and looked forward to my day in Brighton. In 1968 I was becoming very busy with freelance illustration and gave in my notice with some regret.

I was asked to become the external assessor in illustration at Brighton in 1981, in which role I saw the beginnings of many successful careers. In 1985, I accepted a part-time teaching post for one year. There were many more students and large studios: the whole area of graphic design and illustration was in a different league, and in sharp contrast to the homely establishment of the 1960s.