Winter 2016 The Bookshelf

Gilroy Was Good for Guinness by David Hughes

Many are familiar with the series of legendary illustrated animal advertisements that Guinness produced between 1930 and 1960 – the flying toucan, the turtle sporting a Guinness on his shell and the seal balancing a pint of the Irish stout on his nose. Each illustration, complete with such catchy taglines as My Goodness My Guinness, Guinness For Strength, and Lovely Day For a Guinness, not only caught our attention, but also made us laugh. These beer advertisements, some of the most iconic ever made, helped build the Guinness brand in the 20th century.

While many have heard the creator’s name – John Gilroy, we knew little else about him… until now. David Hughes, author of Gilroy Was Good for Guinness, not only shares a plethora of Guinness advertisements created by the now deceased Gilroy, he also reveals details of the English artist’s life story, both personal and professional. Although the prolific artist produced numerous portraits of royals, landscapes and murals throughout his career, Gilroy is most famous for his Guinness illustrations.

The “comic genius” came up with the idea for the iconic Guinness animal campaign in 1934. At the time, advertisements for Guinness included people, but Gilroy and the Benson advertising agency had some issues with those folks being “too handsome, or too ugly.” So, Gilroy invented the animals, which he said, “everyone loves and no one can hate.” There is however, one “human” who did make an appearance in many of the ads… the chubby, mustached zookeeper is actually a self-portrait of Gilroy himself.

When giving advice about producing an advertisement Gilroy said, “Make it memorable. Make it funny – or if you don’t want to be funny, then make it intriguing. Make them laugh, make them think, but most of all, make them like it – even love it.”

Hughes’ book consists of a biography of Gilroy in addition to numerous reprints of his of paintings, drawings, unused proofs, mock-up illustrations and advertisements. The archive of his work, which had “vanished” for nearly 40 years, surfaced in 2009 and was sold to a collector, who allowed photos to be taken for this book.

Gilroy Was Good for Guinness is a high-quality, fully-illustrated narrative featuring never-before-seen Guinness artwork which will delight both art collectors, Guinness fanatics and those who get a kick out of beer memorabilia. And if you’d like to hold one of Gilroy’s designs in your hands, Guinness is releasing limited edition Guinness Gilroy collectible cans in February. The cans will celebrate the famed campaigns of the 30s, 40s and 50s.

Purchase this book at for $33.00

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