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Collins Terry D

Year working: 1970's

Cutaway artist, herewith his story in his own words. Terry Collins Curriculum Vitae On leaving grammar school at the age of 16 I started work in the despatch department of S H Benson in Kingsway where during my office duties I saw samples of very fine artwork of all kinds ranging from the original Johnny Walker whisky advertisement to pictures of cars, tractors and aircraft, but having no idea of becoming an artist. The boredom of ordinary office work weighed on me so much that after a short while, in desperation, I went to the youth employment bureau in Woolwich where I met a gentleman who really took an interest in my welfare and sorted out where my true abilities lay. I always had an ability to draw but I had until now not taken it seriously as my family had a bias to more scientific pursuits and regarded art as rather trivial. Motorcycling in the early days interested me and I would wait impatiently for my uncle to arrive on his Rudge Ulster. A day of great excitement dawned when my brother purchased an ex-WD Royal Enfield which proved to be troublesome and required re-building, it was then, watching my brother and uncle dismantle the machine that my interest in engines began. A succession of machines appeared at home, such as a B.S.A. Bantam, Rudge Ulster, similar to my uncles and an S8 Sunbeam. I was then called up to do my National Service in the RAF. I had been working for about a year in a small studio called Associated Engineering Products and it was there that I discovered technical illustration and where my latent talent as an artist and my interest in engines and machines came together and I produced my first technical illustrations under the supervision of a senior artist. This artist helped me and made me feel that I was not wasting my time and from there I developed a fanatical interest in technical illustration so much so that after working all day in the studio I would go home and draw my own illustrations just for the fun of it. During National Service I was posted to Singapore where my job was to produce landing charts for aircraft and some technical illustrations and posters. It was here I obtained my first freelance commissions (unofficially so far as the RAF was concerned). The local Indian owned silk store needed a new shop front and I got the job of sign writing the name ‘Maya Silk Store’, in playbill lettering. I had to scrape down a metal sign board about ten feet in length, repaint and letter it. It was literally sweated labour as Singapore is only two degrees from the equator. I got about 30 shillings for the work. Demobbed and home again I went to a studio in Bromley, Kent and stayed there for about 2 years. My spare time practice at drawing really paid off as at the age of 22 I was capable of holding down a senior illustrator’s job. One of clients was Westland Aircraft in Yeovil, Somerset and periodically I had to visit the factory to pick up work. I used to strap the illustrations on my back and hurtle down the Great West Road on my 1000cc Vincent Rapide trying each time to beat my record for the trip. The machines could cold 118 m.p.h. across Salisbury Plain and that was in 1957 and do over 60 m.p.g. so much for the Japs! At that time my ambition was to work at Temple Press. I avidly collected copies of the Motorcycling magazine and studied illustrations which subsequently influenced me a great deal. One day I screwed up enough courage to apply for a position in the studio at Temple Press and met the studio manager Lesley Carr an accomplished artist. Three months later I was accepted and commenced working in London. I had the opportunity of travelling around all the British motorcycle factories and drawing the latest machines and I was in my element but then with the rapid demise of the British motorcycle industry came about so I diverted my attention to motorcars. By now I had developed a healthy freelance business in my spare time. I had started working on commissions from Ford Motor Company through an agent, my first car for them was the Corsair. After working for five years with Temple Press I decided to go freelance and it was then that I started to really progress. I met two colleagues and formed a studio called Technical Art Group but after about two years I decided to become more specialized and break away on my own. It was at this time that I thought I would try my hand at breaking into the European market so I tucked some samples of my work under my arm, learned about ten words of German and hopped into my Zephyr and went to Germany for a week. I found my way to Opel and came away with a contract to produce airbrush illustrations of engines and suspensions in full colour. Two days later I went to N.S.U. near Stuttgart and came away with another commission to prepare a full colour car and line illustrations of engines and transmissions. I worked myself into the ground to complete these commissions for I was at the same time working for Ford. However I completed the work and everyone was satisfied. I then turned my attention to France but this time I enlisted the services of an agent in Paris. Over the years I have worked for Renault, Peugeot, Opel, N.S.U. and Fiat. At the present time I work for the motor industry, publishing houses and a model kit manufacturer producing mainly full colour airbrush and gouache illustrations.

Further reference

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