Enter the strange and beautiful realm of Tony Meeuwissen

The World of Tony Meeuwissen, released by Paul Hoberton Publishing, delves into the British artist’s playful, dark and surreal illustrations

Beginning his career in commercial art at the age of 16, Tony Meeuwissen has now worked in the industry for nearly 70 years, over which time he has developed a distinctive style entirely his own. Characterised by colourful, eye-catching compositions and fantastical subject matter, his illustrations have found their way onto many printed mediums.

The World of Tony Meeuwissen revisits this wealth of beautiful artworks, many of them populated by odd creatures and dreamy landscapes – which speak to the artist’s longstanding fascination with the natural world.

Top image: The Purple Emperor endpapers, 2010; Above: Radio Times Christmas cover, 1981
The Moscow Puzzles for Pelican, 1975

Inside, we find his simple yet captivating book jackets, among which are designs for beloved authors such as CS Lewis and Shiva Naipaul; his illustrations for magazines including the Sunday Times Magazine and Radio Times; his work on novelty items such as matchboxes, playing cards and postage stamps; and his more commercial work for packaging and advertising projects.

“He has managed to inhabit the world of commercial art for more than half a century without ever becoming commercial himself,” writes British naturalist Peter Marren, in the book’s foreword. “His work is always uncompromisingly his own: the product of a unique imagination coupled with the skills and standards of a perfectionist.”

The Cricket Match, 2018
A Dictionary of Fairy Tales book cover for Penguin, 1977
Spread of eight cards from The Key of the Kingdom transformation card set, 1992

The allure of Meeuwissen’s work, beyond its inimitable style and execution, lies in the traditional process involved in its creation. At a time when digital design and illustration tools allow for a fast pace of production, Meeuwissen’s practice is refreshingly analogue.

Equipped with only his drawing board, pencils and paintbox, he operates at perhaps a slower pace, but the finished product is undoubtedly richer for it.

Cover of The World of Tony Meeuwissen, featuring cat and goldfish artwork for the four of diamonds from the Key of the Kingdom transformation card set, 1992

The World of Tony Meeuwissen: A Life in Illustration and Graphic Art is published by Paul Hoberton Publishing; paulholberton.com