At 19, Richard Guyatt began his career as a freelance graphic designer with posters for Shell-Mex and BP as well as book illustrations. Two of his Shell posters - Sham Castle in Bath for the Visit Britain's Landmarks series and These Men Use Shell have become classics. Dick once told me that the face on his Racing Motorists poster was altered without his knowledge because it was thought to be "far too handsome". The amended version featured a cut-out photo of the designer himself smoking a cigarette. He remained a 60-a-day man until he was 65.
Dick was born and spent his childhood in La Coruña in Galicia, north-west Spain. His father, the British consul in Vigo, died when Dick was 10 and he was dispatched to school at Charterhouse, where his talent for drawing was first recognized. He went on to serve as apprentice to Oliver Messel's theatre design studio, and in the evenings attended life-drawing classes held by Bernard Meninsky, a famously inspiring draughtsman, at the Westminster school. "Meninsky's love of drawing was truly infectious," Dick was to recall, "and through it he was able to impart something of the wonder he knew to be lying behind the drab facade of ordinary vision."