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The fashion for event-poster art has enjoyed a revival over recent years, and the famous Shuttleworth Collection has created a series of vivid designs with illustrator Katie Hounsome.
The dramatic range of featured aircraft and vehicles has inspired Hounsome and, combined with her glorious colours, the works superbly evoke the pre-war era she so admires.
Hounsome’s influences are diverse, ranging from Monaco Grand Prix posters to mid-century architecture.
“My parents think it’s hilarious that I’m so retro,” she laughs.
Hounsome has always loved art. “On childhood caravan holidays, I always took my pens and paper,” she explains. “Drawing has long been a passion.”
That creative talent led her to art school, with a foundation year at Loughborough followed by a degree at the London College of Communication, where she specialised in advertising: “The bulk of the course was all about developing and marketing conceptual ideas, but at the back of my mind I always wanted to be an illustrator.
“The course also gave me good business acumen.”
Sketching out initial ideas for clients was Hounsome’s style, but the introduction of Procreate, a digital creative app, led her to develop a bold new technique: “While I was commuting up to London, I used Procreate on my phone and really enjoyed it.”
Now freelance and living in Biggleswade, Hounsome enjoys regular visits to the Shuttleworth Collection.
“It’s a great place with lots to do, and the staff are always helpful,” she enthuses.
“On one visit I started drawing a Spitfire, which I then developed as a poster idea.”
“After posting the illustration on Instagram, the Shuttleworth team contacted me about designing some advertising work and it really took off from there,” she recalls.
“For the past three years I’ve been doing posters for the Collection’s events.”
Themes ranging from ‘Jubilee Flying Circus’ to ‘Fly Navy’ have offered Hounsome a variety of subjects: “After discussions about the aircraft and vehicles that are scheduled for events, they provide me with the reference material to start working up a composition.
“Researching the subjects and fashions is fun, particularly for the espionage-themed events, and I try to give the designs a vintage feel. Colours are key to creating a mood, so I limit them to six.”
The Race Day event, combining vintage competition cars with racing aircraft, is a favourite: “As a fan of Art Deco, the de Havilland DH88 Comet is a star of the collection that I’ve drawn several times.
“The speed theme really suits a dramatic perspective.”
The 2022 Race Day poster depicts the Comet and a Percival Mew Gull racer matched with the Napier-Railton and Fiat S76 ‘Beast of Turin’.
The automotive theme woven into Hounsome’s work continues with her new client, Silverstone Auctions, and regular private commissions from classic car owners for one-off posters.
Her design work has also expanded to book covers and brewery graphics.
Among recent commissions have been four posters celebrating the diverse designs of Tom Karen for an exhibition at The Museum at One Garden City: “It was fun to feature the Bond Bug, Reliant Scimitar and Raleigh Chopper with a backdrop of local architecture.”
Hounsome has always enjoyed drawing vehicles, and they often feature prominently in her travel poster designs: “I love fastback-style coupés and my dream car is a Jensen Interceptor.”