Who remembers the Letraset Art Sheets of artist Aubrey Rix?

Do you want to draw comics? Well, don’t bother with learning how to draw or ink, just rub down these groovy faces by top British illustrator Aubrey Rix – simple!

Artist David Roach recently highlighted Letraset Art Sheets, first released in 1966, but which continued to be produced many years later, well into the 1990s.

A form of clip art, the Letraset catalogues used to feature others with small figures and trees for architectural designs, etc. Letraset was also, of course, the company behind Action Transfers, which were much more fun!

Illustrator Aubrey Rix (1915 – 2002) was a prolific British artist who had a very distinguished career in commercial illustration, creating gorgeous magazine and fashion illustrations from the late 1940s until the 1960s. Author “Little Owl Ski” noted a while back that “by all accounts he was a great ‘lover’ of women; perhaps some of this passion shows through in his glamourous, stunning and enchanting illustrations.”

Rix’s breakthrough came in the late 1940s, when he created some cover art for Woman’s Own magazine. At this time, the covers were still created through illustration. In the 1950s, cover illustrations were replaced by photographs of models and upcoming film stars: the illustrations were confined to the inside pages.

“A Cure for Love”, art by Aubrey Rix, for Woman’s Own, February 21st, 1952
“A Cure for Love”, art by Aubrey Rix, for Woman’s Own, February 21st, 1952

Rix was a member of Artist Partners, which is still in business, as was artist Patrick Tilley, a prime mover in the success of Action Transfers etc., who invited Aubrey to produce his Art Sheets for Letraset; he also provided art for Palitoy’s IdentiKit product, an earlier collaboration.

Sadly, as noted on the utterly brilliant Action Transfers web site, the success of his “Art Sheets” for Letraset, which were used widely, had a detrimental impact on his career. We’re referred, for example, to his Daily Telegraph obituary (18th June 2002), where it is noted that “in later life he sustained a considerable setback when he designed hundreds of stock drawings for a lettering company, which were then used copyright free”. In other words, designing Letraset Art Sheets turned out badly for him in the long run.

“In the meantime, it turned out very well for the thousands of designers who were able to produce illustrations for a fraction of the usual cost,” notes the site, “and of course we are grateful too.”

Visit the brilliant Action Transfers web site for more on Letraset Art Sheets

Mayfair Stationers offer a range of Letraset and dry transfers covering a wide range of letters, numbers, punctuation and symbols

Little Owl Ski – Between Friends: Aubrey Rix

Daily Telegraph – Aubrey Rix obituary (registration required)

Patrick Tilley, who later went on to become an acclaimed SF author and screenwriter best known, perhaps, for The Amtrak Wars and Fade-Out, died just last year. He gave up graphic design in 1968 to pursue his career as film scriptwriter

With thanks to David Roach for sending me down this rabbit hole, and the Action Transfers team for their amazing research

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