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Chooey Inspiration: Kenneth Townsend

Posted by Sue Lee on

Pennychoo's recently launched set of 10 illustrated postcards, Capital Cards, drew inspiration from a few sources, one of which was the work of commercial artist Kenneth Townsend whose illustrations achieved popularity during the 1960s and 70s.  Based in Hastings, Townsend (1931-99) was a graphic designer and illustrator whose work became seen most widely on ceramics and glass.

Below: Chance Glass Pin Dish - Chelsea Pensioner - 1972, for sale on Etsy

He worked in a freelance capacity for Hornsea Pottery, Chance Brothers (glass), Cuckoobird Productions (textiles) Merit (games) and James Galt & Co. Ltd (toys). He was also the art director for Pickpocket Books from 1991-1998.

Below: Chance Glass Pin Dish - Scots Guard - 1972, for sale on Etsy

His popular 1960s series 'Scenes of London' was featured on a set of ceramic tiles, and was also adopted by Chance Brothers for use on a series of shallow glass trays, manufactured in Smethwick, Birmingham.

Below: Sights Of London Plate,1970s: for sale on Etsy


Capital Cards by PennychooCapital Cards by PennychooCapital Cards by PennychooCapital Cards by Pennychoo

Above: some designs from Pennychoo's Capital Cards postcards set

While wanting to use my own style to illustrate this range, I borrowed from Townsend's style in a few ways:

• simplicity: a single person or object isolated against a plain, uncluttered ground is one of the things I like about Townsend's London series;

• colour and style: a limited palette of red, blue, gold and black and a flat, cartoon-like style aims to give them that immediacy that I like in his work;

• subject matter: needless to say, there are only so many topics you can choose from when trying to depict characters and icons of 1950s London so things like Beefeaters, Guardsmen and London buses were a given. I added in new items aswell, though – things like pillar boxes, red telephone boxes and a Tower of London raven in its 'bonnet'. 

The addition of type also helps to distinguish them from Townsend's work, but the influence remains clear.


I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to pay this tribute to Kenneth Townsend and his inspiring work – Pennychoo's Capital Cards postcards can be seen (and bought!) here.


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