Ian Pollock was born in Cheadle, Cheshire in 1950, the son of Gordon Pollock, a traditional claypipe manufacturer. He was educated at Woods Lane Secondary Modern School, and Moseley Hall Grammar School, Cheadle, Cheshire. He then did a foundation course at Manchester College of Art and Design, and in 1970 went to Manchester Polytechnic. On graduation as BA with First Class Honours in 1973 he went to the Royal College of Art, and on getting his MA in 1976 became a freelance illustrator.

Pollock has published and illustrated a number of books – starting with Beware of the Cat in 1977, and has designed posters for the Royal Shakespeare Company. He works mostly for magazines and newspapers, appearing regularly in the “quality press.” His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Playboy, Penthouse, New Yorker, Talk, Esquire, GQ, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Elle, Country Life, Radio Times, New Scientist, Creative Review, Design Week, Stern, Sunday Times, Independent, Guardian, Observer, the Financial Times, and Daily Telegraph amongst others. As Pollock puts it, he will “work for anyone – even the taxman.”

In 1984 he published a cartoon version of King Lear, incorporating the entire text, explaining in an interview that “I didn’t understand Shakespeare at school, but I read the Beano and loved the format.” In 1990 he was commissioned to produce two postage stamps for the 150th anniversary of Thomas Hardy’s birth – one showing Tess of the D’Urbervilles and the other the Mayor of Casterbridge – but they were vetoed by the Queen as unsuitable. “I did what I was asked”, Pollock commented: “I was in the unfortunate position of seeming to have let a lot of people down.” Pollock lived in London for twenty years, then moved to Macclesfield on the edge of the Peak District with his wife, the painter Helen Clapcott.

In 1997 a commission to design four more stamps – “Tales of Terror” commemorating the bicentenary of Mary Shelley’s birth and the centenary of the publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula – went through without problems, and proved very popular. As Pollock admitted, “for a week in sleepy Macclesfield, I became a local hero”: “I appeared in all the local newspapers, local radio stations, BBC’s Blue Peter, BBC North West Tonight, as well as the national press. It didn’t stop there. One letter arrived from an avid collector addressed ‘to the designer of The Royal Mail stamps, a converted weaver’s cottage, Macclesfield’, postmarked the day before.” In 2002 Pollock’s illustrations for David Crystal’s Just Like Frank were awarded a commendation in the National Art Library Illustration Awards.

Pollock’s artwork is akin to the extraordinary characters created by Lewis Carrol, in the vivid storytelling with the Alice in Wonderland series. Pollock stretches the reality of the character into a lurid and almost grotesque visual. While I am not a great admirer of this type of work, I appreciate to talent that one must have to be able create this type of drawing.

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