Friday, July 1, 2011

Tony Meeuwissen, Magical Illustrator

Tony Meeuwissen (b. 1938) is one of England's foremost illustrators. Though he received no formal art training, he served a five-year apprenticeship at an art studio, then worked as an art director for several London advertising agencies. In 1968, Meeuwissen began working as a freelance illustrator. His commissions have included work from the Sunday Times, Penguin Books and record companies.

Meeuwissen's distinctive designs are always an elegant balance of fine composition and the highest degree of painting craftsmanship. His work is also imbued with much humor and charm.

Perhaps you've seen designs by Tony Meeuwissen on packaging for Crabtree & Evelyn, and Winsor & Newton. He also designed his own book, Remarkable Animals, 1000 Amazing Amalgamations.

Meeuwissen has received the Francobollo d'Oro for the best world stamp design. Here are several of his designs (but I don't know if one of these won the award!).

I was first introduced to Tony Meeuwissen when I was gifted with his deck of cards (and accompanying book from Running Press Book Publishers), entitled The Key to the Kingdom. The deck is the premier example of transformation cards, more about which can be learned here. I'm going to include eight of my favorites — the first card is the reverse design for all the others.

Tony Meeuwissen has received numerous honors, including being the only illustrator to win the Gold D&AD (Design and Development) award, which he won twice. His work has also been purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum. Now 73 years old, Tony Meeuwissen continues to illustrate.


  1. I am so pleased that you have featured Tony Meeuwissen's work. He lives 5 minutes walking distance from me. I love his illustrations, and my favourite card is the four of diamonds featuring a black cat with diamond eyes peering at two diamond shaped goldfish in their bowl...............Rosemary

  2. Now Mark--I think this is one of my favorite posts! I enjoyed learning about Meeuwissen. Looking at the playing cards, I stared a long time at the 5 of diamonds. Initially I didn't see the little birds, and almost laughed out loud when I realized those were some hungry little birds! My jaw dropped when I lingered at 3 of diamonds and finally saw the sinking ship. I'm so impressed. Great work.

    By the way, I submitted my question to Old House Web members asking to identify the date/style of the Birds eye maple desk. They agree with you, the style is unadorned Renaissance Revival c1860-1875, and the biggest clue is the use of contrast between the light and darker woods.

    Congratulations, you were correct to identify the desk is Renaissance Revival. I certainly agreed with you after seeing the link to the furniture example you supplied. Thanks for helping me.

    Mrs. D

  3. Dear Rosemary - You are so lucky to have Tony Meeuwissen as a neighbor! If I lived that close, I would certainly go out of my way to meet him and chat. Maybe I'd even bake a batch of cookies, or a pie!

  4. Hi, Mrs. D. - I'm glad you enjoyed the Meeuwissen cards. Tony Meeuwissen paints the world as I would like to inhabit it, and I can't think of higher praise.

    Again, your desk is a real treasure; it's certainly in incredible condition for its age. Lucky you!

  5. Fantastic, and what a pleasure to be introduced to such a marvelous, whimsy-filled illustrator. And whimsy is something that can go seriously awry in the wrong hands. What a wonderful blog you have. Thanks, Reggie

  6. Love his work Mark. I think I have seen it but never who the illustrator was. What a wonderful whimsical attention to detail!

  7. Glorious work, Mark. I don't think I'm at all familiar with this work. So, a new artist for me to learn about. Great post!

  8. Thanks, Yvette - Tony Meeuwissen is my personal choice for a knighthood!

  9. Hi, Stacey - One of the reasons Meeuwissen's work is so successful is that there is great attention to detail within overall compositions that tend to be simple. I think we're then drawn all the more to his fine detail.

  10. My grandaughter was lucky enough to receive the book "Remarkable Animals" from her favourite Aunt & Uncle, (actually your July 1st correspondent, Rosemary & her husband Jon). The illustrations amuse her greatly & as well, stimulate her creativity.

    Carolyn Anderson Swindall, Mississauga, Ontario

  11. Thanks for visiting Carolyn! I gather Remarkable Animals is an extraordinary flip book. The book I'm waiting for is the catalog of Meeuwissen's work, for my coffee table.

    Tony Meeuwissen has grandchildren himself — I wonder what delightful surprises he's crafted for them ...

  12. I read this post two weeks ago, and Meeuwissen's work has haunted me ever since. It is otherworldly but not spooky. It is wonderfully crisp, clear, and graphic. Looking at his detail, subject and themes, I think he must be a great connoisseur who took the grand European tour many, many times. Really gorgeous.

    The postage stamp with the red pillar boxes being visited by envelope carrying birds is of great charm (I collect vintage pillar box banks and I love birds), and I am only sorry that I cannot have some Christmas cards with this image.

    I'm learning so much from you, and it is all the more delightful knowing I have no essays to hand in.

  13. Hi, Terry - I'm glad you like the work of the fellow who is probably my favorite illustrator of all time — and I study a lot of them!

    No essays, but there might be a pop quiz.