The Illustrated Beatles is an exhibition by Forty illustrators, who are members of Illustrators Ireland. Each illustrator has created a piece based on a different Beatles song. I’m really delighted to have been involved with the exhibition and my illustration is based on the song “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” which appears on Sgt Pepper.
I had never heard the song before – I really only know their most famous hits – but a little bit of research revealed that John Lennon was inspired to write the song by a 19th-century circus poster for Pablo Fanque’s Circus Royal, that he purchased in an antique shop on 31 January 1967. Lennon said that “Everything from the song is from that poster, except the horse wasn’t called Henry”. (The poster identifies the horse as “Zanthus”.) Mr. Kite is believed to be William Kite, who worked for Pablo Fanque from 1843 to 1845. Here’s a picture of John Lennon with the poster.
Image via The Flaming Pie Cafe
Here’s a brilliant short film made about the poster:
A short film following the recreation of the Pablo Fanque circus poster that inspired John Lennon to write ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite’ for the Beatles album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. Using the traditional methods of wood engraving and letterpress printing, Peter Dean and his team of experts bring to life Lennon’s poster.
A Film By Nick Esdaile & Joe Fellows http://www.makeproductions.co.uk/
So based on the song lyrics and the original inspiration for the song, my illustration has an old circus feel. I’ve always loved early 20th Century poster design and wanted to have this look and feel with some hand drawn text and an image of Mr. Kite flying through the air. This was my initial sketch and idea:
The circus band in this idea were the Beatles but I wasn’t mad about how it looked with them stuck in each corner so I changed it so the main focus is Mr. Kite high, high, high in the air above the ring with a Sgt. Pepperesque band down below. I added some hand drawn text “There will be a show tonight” which appears in the lyrics.
As always, I brought the sketches into Adobe Illustrator, drew everything as a vector, then finished up with loads of textures and scribbles in Photoshop. And this is my final piece.