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Robert Burton Printers Movie poster artists
Not much is known about the artists for Australian movie posters over the years. Some would occasionally sign their work in the 40s and 50s but Robert Burton Printers Movie poster artists in the 60s never signed their work and have been a forgotten chapter in Movie Poster history.
There has been very limited documented information about printers and artists for Australian Movie posters over the years. Many of the employees who worked for the printing companies have passed away and the history has been lost.
However, I recently met one ex employee of Robert Burton Printers who worked for them during the 60s and 70s. He is one of the very few people who is able to provide definitive information about the hand litho printing process and the artists.
The hand litho printing process was quite time consuming and required real skill by the artists. (see my article on Robert Burton Printers).
The names of the artists have been a mystery over the years but I can finally reveal the names of the artists who produced the images and designs for daybills and one sheets during the Robert Burton era.
- “Babs” McDougall
- Ron Ralphs
- Bert Dowman
- Robert “Bob” Burton
It appears that “Babs” McDougall produced the artwork for the majority of Burton posters during the 1960s and early 70s. Pressbooks and posters from the US would be used as a reference and the artists would used the hand litho process outlined in my article about Robert Burton Printers.
“Babs” McDougall was usually able to produce the art for two posters in a day bearing in mind that up to five plates would be needed – one for each separate colour.
Her son David started M.A.P.S litho printers in Sydney.
Ron Ralphs and Bert Dowman would drive to Robert Burton Printers and load their vehicles with zinc plates. They would be given pressbooks, posters and details of the films for which posters were needed and they both did the art at their homes. When the work was completed after a few weeks they would drive back to the printers in Sydney with their cars full of the zinc plates and the printing process would begin.
Robert “Bob” Burton would occasionally do the art for posters possibly when there was too much work for the other artists to cope with or a deadline to meet.
Posters that were produced by Robert Burton Printers were not signed so one can only guess at which of the four was the artist for a particular poster.
Deadlines and time constraints were important. They were not attempting to produce works of art. Their focus was to produce a striking image that would attract attention. Consequently, reds and yellows were predominantly used, particularly for the title.
Despite the crude artwork, the hand litho style is very effective, particularly with Australian Daybills and is hugely popular amongst collectors. The artists who worked for Robert Burton printers are part of the history of movie posters and they deserve some recognition.
© John Reid