The Daily Heller: Celebrating Illustrators’ History

Posted inThe Daily Heller

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.

Beard writes:

“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.