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Designer draws attention to charms of Stratford and beyond

Illustrator Adam Beardsmore’s work is inspired by art deco tourist posters. He tells Gill Sutherland about how he hopes his bespoke artworks help people see their home towns or special places in a new light.

Art deco-inspired prints of people’s houses, fondly remembered locations or favourite landmarks are illustrator Adam Beardsmore’s speciality.

But actually Adam is one of those impressively diverse multi-talented types who can pretty much lend his talents to anything.

After graduating from film school ten years ago, he started working at Ragdoll Productions, the Stratford-based TV production company responsible for legendary children’s TV shows such as Teletubbies, Rosie and Jim and In the Night Garden.

As well as the day job he also works regularly as a stand-up comic, and perhaps most demandingly, is dad to a two-year-old.

The impact of Covid-19 meant he found himself with a bit more free time and so turned his attention to doing illustrations of special places.

Standing in the hallowed churchyard of Holy Trinity, of which he has just done an artwork, Adam told the Herald about his latest enterprise: “I’ve been doing stand-up comedy for the last four years – that was my creative outlet until Covid struck and killed the entertainment industry dead so I’ve sort of had to find another outlet and that’s been the illustrations and the digital painting.”

Ragdoll’s latest productions have seen Adam working on popular children’s animations BOT and the Beasties and Twirlywoos. As an editor his job is highly skilled, and through his ten years with the company he has mastered various software applications including Photoshop which he uses to make the illustrations. He often found himself editing photos and designing things like logos for friends, when the idea of doing places struck him.

“My wife had a collection of a few of those art deco prints of famous places and she had one of the RSC,” explained Adam. “My friends have one of Florence and my parents have one of Cornwall and I wanted to do one but with a local slant so I did Rugeley in Staffordshire which is where we are from originally.”

He continued: “I thought I’d do a more niche version of that art deco tourist poster but perhaps somewhere that no one would ever go but has just as much significance to people.”

Adam’s on something of a mission encouraging people embrace where they’re from.

He said: “I think people lose pride in their home towns a lot – you come to take it for granted really. We moved to Stratford when I was 18 and my younger brother has grown up here and he was always complaining that it’s so boring and I’m like ‘No it’s not it’s lovely’. We grew up in Staffordshire and I said the same - ‘it’s rubbish’ - when I was younger.

“Now I love living in Stratford, it’s a great place to live.”

One of the few positive impacts of Covid, reckons Adam, is that it’s made us all a little bit more aware of our surroundings.

“You forget to look around, but lately people have realised how important where you live is,” said Adam.

Explaining how he built up his work portfolio, Adam said: “My wife’s family are from a village in Italy called Civitanova, which is a tiny village on top of a hill in the Marche region. We go there every year and have been 15 times or so. I did an illustration of the piazza there, which I thought was something that would only appeal to our family and the people of the village. But when I posted it online people took interest and wanted their home towns doing. So people sent me a photo and I try my best to match the angle and create the key colours and shapes – taking a bit of the grime out of it – and make it look touristy and art deco.”

Illustrations Adam has been commissioned to do so far include the fabulous and the everyday.

Listing them, he said: “I’ve done some unusual home towns including Cheslyn Hay in Cannock, Bloxwich in Walsall, Elland in Yorkshire as well as Rugeley. Buildings include: a cornershop across the road from my house; a friend’s pub in Leicester that’s been closed during lockdown and Busby and Goodfellows, which is my barbershop in Stratford, so that was a good one to be asked to do.”

Although Adam says he can’t wait to get back on the comedy circuit, for now rather than playing darkened comedy clubs of an evening, he can be found hunched over his work.

“I spend most nights with the tablet I use on my lap in the living room, it’s a great way to get lost for a few hours.”

To contact Adam about his artwork email him at ad.beardsmore23@gmail.com

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