Illustration is often given short shrift in the study of design history. Pete Beard, an illustrator from the U.K. with a special gift for bringing the field to life, has been producing, writing and narrating a series on his YouTube channel titled “Unsung Heroes of Illustration.” In it, he takes on a corps of little-heralded European practitioners, focusing his scholarship on genres such as art deco and art nouveau, children’s books, pulp, counter-culture, as well as popular 20th-century advertisement and poster artists. Beard’s output is broken up into at least eighty video segments averaging between 10–20 minutes each. They are a goldmine of facts and many rarely seen images—a surprising treat for even this hardcore illustration maven.
“I had always thought that many illustrators from the past got nothing like the attention they deserved, so I decided to make some videos about a few of these almost-forgotten talents.
“The Unsung Heroes series was originally intended to be about illustrators from what’s known as the golden age of illustration. But I soon realized that meant ignoring many early 20th-century illustrators who, strictly speaking, didn’t fit that description. So I compromised and ended up with parameters of those born between 1850 and 1910.”
Have a look at a few of the YouTube installments below. Subscribe to future episodes on the site. The combination of his authoritative basso British accent and well-written narrative is both inspiring and addictive.