Celebrating 60 years of Brian Sanders' illustration – from James Bond to Mad Men

As a new exhibition opens in London, we look back at the work of one of the grandees of British illustration.


Brian Sanders has had many of illustration's dream jobs. He illustrated women’s magazines during the heyday of the 1960s. He was commissioned by Stanley Kubrick to sit on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey and draw scenes of the film’s production. In the 70s, he painted artwork for a series of 26 John Steinbeck books – and co-founded the Association of Illustrators – while the 80s saw him embark on illustrating over 50 UK postage stamps.

More recently, when the creators of Mad Men wanted an artwork in the style of airline TWAs flight menus from the 1960s for Season Six’s promo artwork, they commissioned Brian (seen here with the artwork).

Work from throughout Brian’s careers will be on show at the Lever Gallery in London, from May 12 to July 31.

Over the years, Brian has moved to and from acrylics and watercolours – depending on the needs of individual artworks and the shifting fashions and requirements of the art directors commissioning him.

His earlier work – which includes most of the pieces shown here such as this illustration of tennis player Roger Taylor – is generally rougher and more interesting. Here he used acrylic paints and a technique known as ‘bubble and streak’ that borrowed from American illustrators like Joe DeMers – an approach Brian later retired due to it becoming widespread from other illustrated.


His later work in acrylics and watercolours can seem very traditional – fitting projects such as stamps celebrating the British Police and Marshals of the Royal Air Force. But there's a real sense of life to his work from the 1960s and 70s such as this illustration for Swedish fashion magazine Damernas Värld.

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Brian was the often the only person recording Stanley Kubrick's work on 2001: A Space Odyssey – for which he created this work of the descent into the pit on the Moon where the monolith resides. Kubrick often worked with a closed set, and was the only person allowed to take photos.


Brian spent two days a week on set drawing, then would paint artworks in his studio on other days.

This artwork shows Kubrick looking down over the set of 2001.


Here Kubrick is setting up a shot.

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Illustration of Warren Beatty for 'intellectual women's magazine' Nova from 1970.


Noel Coward for Nova, also from 1970.


An illustration of a street vendor in Ho Chi Min in Vietnam, commissioned for the Sunday Times.

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Dakota Sings The Blues, from 1965


Le Mans

An illustration of the Le Mans Moto 24-hour motorcycle endurance challenge.


The 1964 Olympics (published in 1965).

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