Russell Brockbank is synonymous with the automotive industry, although his talent as an illustrator extends far beyond the car sector. His work was often inspired by ships, aircraft, space-age subjects and every imaginable domestic situation. All his work is characterised by a sense of humour and an eye for the bizarre situation that ‘might just happen'.
His work was first published in Punch in 1937 and he quickly established a reputation as an exquisite illustrator with a wonderful eye for detail. The facial expressions of his characters capture the essence of humanity and provide his audience with instantly identifiable emotions and themes.
In the course of developing this website on behalf of the newly-formed Brockbank Partnership, one has been struck by how his work still inspires individuals to laugh out loud. He had that rare ability to strike a chord through his work and this legacy still lives on. By definition, Brockbank will be most familiar to those who grew up with his work through the forties, fifties and sixties, but new audiences abound and the quality of his work still shines like a beacon.
Born in Niagara Falls, Canada in 1913, even his birth was accompanied by an element of comedy. His parents had actually set-up residence in the USA and it took a brave effort by his mother to dash to Canada in a thunderstorm to ensure her son was delivered on Commonwealth soil!
The family returned to England when Brockbank was 16 and he studied at the Chelsea Art School for two years where his passion for drawing cars began in earnest. Along with his girlfriend (and later wife) Eileen, Brockbank would travel around London with his sketchbook and produce ‘on-the-spur-of-the-moment' cartoons whenever he was inspired by an intriguing situation. His ability to capture the absurdities of modern life gave his work an honesty that effortlessly translated into humour.