From 1975, Peter Cross began to emerge as an illustrator of great originality, making his name with books that continue to delight children and adults alike. Unwilling to restrict his fertile imagination to two dimensions, he also created a series of eccentric cabinets of curiosities. Such richness and variety were then directed towards advertising and, in particular, to delightful work for the company Wine Rack. Cross’s dry, yet charming visual-verbal wit has reached a wide international public through designs for greetings cards, first for Gordon Fraser (Hallmark 1995-2000) and then for The Great British Card Company. Peter Cross was born in Guildford and educated at Parkside, East Horsley, and at Ewell Castle. At first he worked as a technical illustrator for Hawker Siddley, but from 1975 he set up his own studio and began to emerge as an imaginative illustrator of great originality.
From 1977, Peter produced the artwork for a number of albums by Anthony Phillips, the former Genesis guitarist.
He made his name with eleven children’s books which continue to delight children and parents alike with their humorous detail. These include the cult classic Trouble for Trumpets (1982), the series Dinosaur Days (1985) and The Adventures of Dudley Dormouse (1986-87). Subsequently, he responded directly to adults’ interest in his work by producing 1588 and All This ... (1988) and The Boys’ Own Battle of Britain (1990). Unwilling to restrict his fertile imagination to two dimensions, he also created a series of eccentric cabinets of curiosities, centring on themes as diverse as Sigmund Freud and the Cheltenham Literary Festival. Such richness and variety were then directed towards advertising and, in particular, to delightful work for the company Wine Rack from 1991 to 1994.
The dry, yet charming visual-verbal wit of Peter Cross reached a wide international public through designs for phenomenally successful Harbottle & Co greetings cards published by Gordon Fraser (Hallmark 1995-2000). More recently he has enjoyed further success with his signature ‘Peter Cross’ range, first published by The Great British Card Company in 2007.
Following this success, the challenge of renovating Bryony Hill, a beautiful country house in Surrey, allowed Cross the opportunity to develop his skills in interior design and landscape gardening. The house with its wonderfully eccentric bridge and turret, and dreamy views to the South Downs beyond, seemed to evoke scenes from his first book Trouble for Trumpets (1982). Indeed, this almost fairy-tale world prompted one Hollywood producer to attempt to turn the book into a film.
Since 2008, Peter Cross has been building his card range – providing some of the National Trust’s best-selling designs over the last few years. More recently, he has returned to making ‘boxes’, unique mixed-media cabinets of curiosity, which allow him to express his scintillating imagination to its fullest.
The meticulous, detailed images that have made Cross a cult name are now increasingly accompanied by broader, more painterly views, while his wide knowledge of art history not only continues to inform his repertoire of allusion but assists his work in the genres of portraiture and landscape. Always looking at ways to refresh and further his talents, he remains one of this county’s most original artists and illustrators.