John H Howard
35 Years ago I did my first album cover for a young punk band  called THE RUTS . I was new to the game and when I turned up at the Virgiin offices,struggling up the narrow stairs with a 4 foot square painting, everyone cracked up..  A couple  of years ago,  I'd graduated to dinky digital with my already antique MAC and with  half the same band, did the CD  Rythym Collision  2 - (daughter Rachel had already done Rythym Collision 1). This year, following their Antipodean Tour with Florence and the Machine and the publication of their big bio, Love in Vain (Vein- get it?), I got to go retro and do the 12" Vinyl Single, Psychic Attack - and the CD Music Must Detroy!. Here's the promo, have a listen,, the indefatigable bad boys from South London -

A DEAR JOHN email........
Are you the son of George Howard the jeweller of Shepherds Bush who painted this in the‘ 50’s and if so, could you tell me something about it? – it’s the Life Class at Camberwell and I haven’t seen it since it was sold off the easel to George’s friend, chararismatic criminal, Arthur Suttee who later introduced me to Freud and Bacon at the Colony Club. I last saw him at Georges funeral in Mortlake around ’88. He later got 10 years and I’d moved to New York. The painting is now , after 50 years, luxuriating amongst this outstanding collection of mostly British Artists- check the link above.The same week,-  are you the JHH who did this beautiful piece we just purchased for our new place in Pennsylvania and if so, could you tell us something about it? WOW! Commissioned and painted  in '88 in a borrowed basement of benefactor Mike Ephron for beautiful socialite Sheila in Westchester it included friends, Truman Capote ,Diana Vreeland , my wife to be’s back and my alter ego, the rosy gentleman waitng for the cheque and dinner at some flash restaurant. I threw in the Morris Louis as a gift (and a filler). It’s really reassuring to see the children doing so well!

I was a painter who paid the rent with occasional commissions. Portraits of people, pets or possessions, often in the style of , you name it. I was about 40 when I stumbled into illustration, getting a job from an aquaintance at the NYTimes. My life changed and for 25 years I enjoyed  an amazing variety of jobs and a security I’d never known, I thought it would never end. Today, business is slow, so slow I’ve sort of picked up where I left off. It’s not so bad, and working one on one with people is great and I get to set my own deadlines and work BIG! (bad eyes). This week, a portrait of Churchill (from a photo of my choice), in the style of Alex Katz with an unexpected bonus – I got to sign it - AK AKA JHH ! Funny Huh?


It must be my time of life that keeps prompting me to post obituries. The passing of Ruth Rendell whose prolific output of psychological thrillers was an inspiration to the many illustrators  who got to do her book covers- including me. Turning up with pencil sketches (prismaclor on black paper), my Bantam Books AD, Krystyna Skalski suggested we take them to finish -no painting! Pencils, along with my little note book and sharpener are my constant companions and with Ruth, will always share a permanent place in my heart and pocket.

Recent Articles

The New Technicolor Casa de Fido (39)

Notebook 09 (10)
Howard is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!