David Hughes

by Friday, March 20, 2015


I’m walking the dog it’s my new career 4 years 3 months we’ve been walking. My father was a plumber, a painter and a decorator for fifty five years. Turner was a painter. My mother used to ask…‘Why can’t you draw something nice? Why don’t you get a proper job?’ During the 2nd World War she stitched goggles in Turner’s house.




Your so lucky to be able to draw it’s a god given talent, me I can’t draw a straight line… said the conductor.

Any line
Eyes down looking
Five and four – fifty four



It’s December 1962 and Jack Richards a family friend asked the classic question, ‘What are you going to be when you grow up?’ I hate the title Illustrator and if you want to be an illustrator don’t harbour romantic inclinations of being an artist, compromise will destroy your soul, eventually.



Hello, can I speak to David Hughes? David Hughes speaking. This time it wasn’t an art editor wanting an illustration for a single column about the Euro or a portrait of a US Senator I’d never heard of. The voice explained, my name is Francis Menotti and I am phoning on behalf of my father Gian Carlo Menotti from a hospital in Milan. My father is gravely ill but he insists that I must speak with you. At the time I had a weekly illustration slot for A Dr.Writes in the Observer Magazine with John Collee, but that was as far as my skill at medicine went. Once we had established I was David Hughes the illustrator in the Observer, Menotti continued that they held an arts festival in Spoleto Italy and Charleston in the United States. And they would like me to design the poster for the next years festival. To whet my appetite the voice listed a roll call of previous designers of the poster including David Hockney, Ben Shahn Larry Rivers, Robert Rauschenberg Henry Moore…



That was fifteen years ago Gian Carlo Menotti recovered and the  Spoleto Festival is still going strong. The poster I produced is I’ve been told the biggest selling poster in the festival’s history (yeah yeah yeah) not that I receive any royalties from it and I am still an illustrator.



And in case anyone is wondering, I have just completed defacing Victor Hugo’s classic ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame’with 140 illustrations: it’s translated and adapted by Jan Needle, it should be published by Walker Books in November 2006…

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