Christopher Corr’s Colorful Joyful World

When asked to describe his work in three words, British artist, animator and writer Christopher Corr said:

“Colourful Joyful World.”

And how! Corr’s pictures make you feel like doing a few handsprings and backflips. Such energy and exuberance! No time for the blahs or even a tiny speck of indifference. Corr dazzles with bold colors, injecting whimsy and humor in his pieces with a naïve, intuitive style.

Christopher Corr lives and works in London.

Equally at home drawing everything from stone huts to skyscrapers, he works in gouache on handmade Indian or Italian paper, as though he’s using a pen. Color is powerful, a language in itself.

Corr loves to travel and wholeheartedly invites us along, inspiring us to open our eyes, open our minds, enjoy, and fully embrace all that the world has to offer: people, places, animals, cities, cultures, landscapes, art, architecture. 

A native of London, Corr earned a BFA in graphic design from Manchester Polytechnic, and an MA in illustration from the Royal College of Art. 

As a student, he was keen on experimention, noting that visiting new places helped him develop new ways of seeing and drawing. 

During his second year at the RCA, he was awarded a Leverhulme traveling scholarship, enabling him to tour America, where he drew every day: cityscapes, street scenes, buildings – everything was new and exciting.

He was captivated by this country’s ancient and modern immigration stories. Early influences included Edward Hopper, Ben Shahn, and the urban American drawings of Paul Hogarth.

After graduating from the RCA, Corr began working as a commercial artist. A trip to India in the mid 80s (one of his first job assignments) proved life-changing.

I went to India in 1986 and I discovered colour. It was a truly wonderful and significant moment. A true revelation. Here was pure and rich beautiful colour! I had never seen such pure and intense colours before and it changed me profoundly. It was like arriving on a new planet and one where I didn’t know the rules. Everything was more vivid, more colourful, more crowded, more noisy and stranger than everything I had seen before. And how to draw it ?

Corr in fact found India a challenging place to draw on location because he instantly became a crowd magnet. So he learned to draw fast, recording everything in his little notebooks, often while walking, riding in rickshaws, or on trains.

Although he’s traveled to places like Mexico, Bolivia, Guatemala, Peru, Australia, Africa, and other parts of Asia, he maintains that no place can match the intensity or vibrancy of India. Its many rituals and festivals continue to fascinate and excite him.

Today, he’s garnered international acclaim for his travel illustrations, counting among his clients London Transport, Qantas Airlines, Windstar Cruises, Royal Mail, BBC, UNICEF, and The Folio Society. 

He’s also illustrated travel guides and dozens of children’s books, many of them featuring multicultural stories and folktales. He especially loves drawing cities, as he finds them fascinating; they also provide the most inspiration. Growing up, he liked Miroslav Šašek’s “This Is . . .” series about world cities (his faves were London and New York). 

‘It’s really important that I don’t just do pictures that are commercial,’ Corr told London Independent on Sunday contributor Liz Hoggard in discussing his career as an artist. ‘I love going out and drawing. You meet such interesting people who tell you their stories. And I like that contact. It’s an old-fashioned thing to do. Whenever I travel, I go into another gear and start looking for stories.’

I love the celebratory feeling in Corr’s paintings. Talk about joie de vivre! He’s even done a “Joy Alphabet.” My kind of guy.

It’s interesting how his emotive use of color can affect and/or alter mood. You can’t feel sad when looking at Corr’s quirky, spirited scenes. So much detail! People are packed closely together representing the very pulse of humanity in all its beauty, variety, even oddness. Always on the move, busy, bustling, dancing, leaping, alive. Hearts beating. 

Several years ago, Corr collaborated with Villa Nova Studios to recreate the joy of children’s books in a playful collection of fabrics, wallcoverings, and accessories. How fun to decorate a kid’s room with the bright New York City skyline, the hustle and bustle of an Indian market, or the whitewashed houses of a Mediterranean village! He was hugely inspired by Josef Frank, appreciating his playful approach to textile design and his love of color and natural forms.

Love Corr’s animals too: hello, green and yellow cows, pink and blue cats, rainbow zebras, leopards with colorful polka dots! 

Corr’s passion for travel is infectious, as he captures the character, atmosphere, and stories of each destination he explores. Love how he’s able to totally immerse himself in his surroundings no matter where he goes, and then convey that sense of immediacy in his work.

Corr has had many solo exhibitions in various galleries around England, and has received numerous awards and honors, including the Chelsea Arts Club Graphic Prize, Association of Illustrators Silver Award, and the Print Magazine Award for Design Excellence.

Christopher Corr prints and posters may be purchased via King & McGaw, originals at The Rowley Gallery in London, and needlepoint canvases at Flock Together. He’s also happy to take commissions via his Official Website.


*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

8 thoughts on “Christopher Corr’s Colorful Joyful World

  1. When you share extraordinary artists & their art, Jama. I can never choose a favorite. Thanks for this post full of beauty. He is new to me though I may have seen one picture book & just didn’t remember the name. His reach all over the world is amazing!

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  2. Oh my oh my oh my! It’s cloudy outside today but in my eyes are dazzling the colors and shapes of Christopher Corr’s Joy Alphabet! Thank you!!!

    Jama, if you have time, can you email me about your plans to catalog Poetry Month projects this year? I want to make sure I point people in the right direction in my post on Friday. Thanks.

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  3. I love how Villa Nova Studios imagines they make “picture book textiles for children.” I shall not disabuse them of their belief as I quietly buy that sun pillow for my house…

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  4. WOW! I love your discussion of Christopher Corr and color! His work is breathtaking! It’s so interesting that color can be different in different places with different light. And such joy in his work. I don’t know if I’ve told you, but next week, 4/8, I will post a review of David Elliott’s new book At The Pond, with an interview on Salt City Verse. . Thanks.

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