top of page
Banner-postPOP copy.jpg
Millar Watt

Millar.  Oil sketch by Amy Watt c1949

Millar Watt

Gathering Holly

Free of the daily obligation to draw POP, Millar concentrated on the other main strand of his work, commercial illustration.  He took on an agent and work streamed in.


His work as a designer of advertising artworks began in his late-teenage working life pre-WWI and remained a significant part of his career thereafter. 


This early advertising design for Sainsbury’s butter bears the imprint of Millar’s hand, even as an apprentice designer in his teen's before enlisting for War.  His scripted logo and the sure pen and ink work of the sunburst clouds and a sure-

handed cow-scape tell of the artistic grounding he had put himself through in order to succeed in his profession.  

After the first world war, and throughout his POP career thereafter, Millar maintained strong links with the advertising agency with whom he began working life.  The popular magazine The Sphere, a widely read illustrated newspaper of the day also provided Millar with commissions throughout a long career in illustration.  Sphere’s editor asked him to illustrate important events including Coronations and Christmas editions since the 1920s.

Millar's staple commission was to draw his popular cartoon strip POP for the British Daily Sketch.  POP's immediate popularity enabled Millar and his new wife Amy Watt to move from London to

Millar Watt Artwork for Sainsburys

Dedham in Essex from where Millar was able to work from his own studio at home.  The village and surrounding countryside was popular with artists long  attracted to the East Anglian landscape and its unique light.  Millar became a neighbour of the painter Alfred Munnings.  The two would often drive out in Millar’s car into the East Anglian countryside to sketch and paint. 

They often attended house sales, a regular feature of country life then, Millar’s sketch of a weary Munnings in a hay stack (below) was jotted upon the back of a sale catalogue.  

From the 1950s, Millar’s agent introduced even more work, building upon previous work for children’s reading; Look and Learn, Princess, the Thriller Adventure Series and Beezer were all regular projects for a further two decades in his post-POP work.

Millar Watt | Sphere Magazine

 Illustrating a short fiction in The Sphere.   Once again his family and surroundings made ready models;  Amy Watt as the heroine, daughter Mary poses as maid.

Millar also worked throughout his career on many advertising commissions including a series of prodigious artworks for Shell that appeared on double-page spreads in the main tabloids and broadsheets in the early '60s.

Millar Watt | Sphere Magazine

Millar’s  illustration for this 1956 cover was enthusiastically received by readers and commentators.

Millar's enduring More Hops in Ben Truman campaign was designed to rival Guinness’ already famous Toucan. 

Time to paint was limited throughout his career.   Millar discovered Lavenham in Suffolk when he and Munnings went to sketch the last horse fairs that took place in the Market Square.  He later retired there, buying a house where he could work overlooking his walled garden.  He worked on commissions until the last few years of his life and was always busy.  When he wasn’t working he would sketch or paint or make things; models, hobby horses or Pin The Donkey’s Tail for his grandchildren Christopher and Louise.  His portraits throughout life, of his family are phenomenal in both likeness and feeling. 

Several of his paintings and POP cartoons are now in the public collection and are rare finds at auction due the limited time he had to paint in the course of his life.

When he could no longer stand at his work he sat down to draw the house cats making mischief.  Having begun his long artistic career as a “black and white artist” himself, Millar had a soft spot for a black and white kitten he named Peggy.

Banner illustration : Atlantic Waves, Porthmeor Beach, St Ives.  By Millar Watt, c 1942

Millar Watt with kitten

Millar with Peggy as a kitten in Lavenham

bottom of page