Beer In Ads Special Edition: John Ireland’s The Gentle Art of Making Guinness

In honor of labor day, here’s a fun series of illustrations showing all the labor necessary to make beer, in this case Guinness. In 1981, Guinness commissioned British illustrator and artist John Ireland to create twelve paintings whimsically depicting the steps that go into making Guinness beer for a calendar.

From the Guinness Collector’s Club website:

John was born on the 19th March 1949 at Aldershot Hants and attended Farnham Grammar school, Farnham Art School and finally Ravensbourne College of Art and Design. He lived and worked in London from 1971 until moving to Norfolk in 1976. John has two sons, two sheep, a dog and a wife Tessa and has worked as a freelance illustrator since leaving college, principally for magazines and publishing, with a little bit of advertising. In recent years. A lot of his work has involved caricatures including collections of sporting personalities and a weekly drawing for the TV Times for over nine years.

John [Ireland] writes:

“I had been asked a few years prior to 1980 to submit ideas for a Guinness Calendar but nothing came of it, and when I was asked to produce roughs for a W. Heath Robinson pastiche I was initially reluctant, suggesting I could do something in my own style. When it became obvious that they – J.Walter Thompson the advertising agency — were set on doing it their way, I decided that it was better I should do it rather than someone else mess it up and do Heath Robinson a disservice.”

“There were similarities in our styles, which is presumably why I had been asked in the first place. I had been interested in his drawings since I was a child, having bought his books at jumble sales. The whole job went amazingly smoothly and following a guided tour of the Park Royal Brewery, it was left up to me to decide on which elements of production I should highlight.”

“This is so unusual for advertising, normally you are presented with layouts that you have to stick to rigidly and all the copy has been written already. In this instance I even wrote the captions. My initial roughs were accepted with hardly any changes suggested. I only had to make the May drawing a little busier and ensure that wherever possible both bottled and keg beer should be depicted as apparently there was intense rivalry between the two divisions of the company. The barman in the December drawing is actually a portrait of Heath Robinson with his cat ‘Saturday Morning’ and the customer is my Father.”

Blogger Phil Beard, at his Notes on the Visual Arts and Popular Culture, also has a nice post on the series. These days John Ireland is best known for his caricatures.

John Ireland’s The Gentle Art of Making Guinness

January: Hop Picking Time in the Guinness Fields

February: Early Morning on the Guinness Farm

March: Industry in the Guinness Maltings

April: Roasting the Guinness Barley

May: Mixing the Guinness Mash

June: Filtering the Guinness Wort

July: Fermenting the Guinness

August: Bottling the Guinness

September: Signing the Day’s Production of Guinness

October: The Training of the Guinness Quality Testers

November: Delivering the Guinness

December: The First Guinness of the Day


  1. oisin mcguigan says

    I have the 12 prints from that calendar that year. 100% original. They are beautiful! I believe they fetch approximately 90 pounds sterling per month. I’d never sell them!

  2. says

    In my pub I found 5 framed prints April, June, July, August and October some have slight water marks wondered if they have any value. Eagerly await your reply. Many thanks

    • Jay Brooks says

      John, I’m not really the person to ask. My interest in them was purely artistic. You’ll want to ask someone involved in Breweriana collecting. There is a Guinness Collectors Club. They may have an idea, too.

  3. anderson365 says

    Hello, I also have a full and framed set of these prints. May I ask, where did you get your valuation as I have been looking to sell them but had no idea of their value. Thanks, Stephen.

  4. Fred Carr says

    As an ex Guinness Representative I have a complete set of 12 and also a calender with ilustrating the 12 picyures. They are pristine condition and I would like to sell them. Any Offers?


    i have full set of these too but slightly stuck together at side does anyone hav a value price roughly

    ty :)

  6. Ray Finn says

    In a recient trip to Ireland I was able to pick up 4 of these prints (8″X10″) at the Guinness Factory but these were all they had. I would love to complete the set. Does anyone know where I can find the rest of the prints in this size?

  7. Stephen Adams says

    This week on 9th January 2012 in a local auction I saw a job lot of 11 of the prints on hardboard and framed but not under glass. Not seen them before and really liked them. I successfully bid and got the lot for a total of £21.51. I dont know if I was just lucky or they are really of such low value. I hope its the first. Haven’t gone to pick them up yet but when I’ll see which one is missing and will then look out for it.

  8. james newman says

    i was keeping a pub when these callanders were issued i have a
    set of pictures made and also have a original callander . i also have
    a set of the guinnes man of the month pictures which was issued
    around sbout the same time i would be interested if there is are any buyers out there dated 21/02/12

      • Geoff Padmore says

        I have one of these calendars. It is complete with all 12 months and is in good condition on it’s original ring binder. One of the above site comments suggested each month was worth £90, which I think is a bit optimistic. I would sell mine for £60 per month(a total of £720 plus postage), if you are interested.

        Please e-mail if interested. Thank you.

  9. says

    Hi, I have the whole collection. It has been in my position since 1981. 1982 I framed each one in a Aluminium frame’s with matt glass. I am now moving to a smaller apartment and have decided to sell the whole collection. I am in Iceland, so the freight might cost some thing from Iceland to your place, unless you live in Iceland. Thorir Thorisson.

    • Lisbeth Skovgaard says

      Dear Thorir Thorisson

      I could be interested in bying your collection of “the Gentle Art of Making Guinness” if the price is right and the sixes is
      Width = 31 cm and Height = 45.5 cm. Please let me know which price you want for the “posters” and if you want to sell, I would like to see a picture of the posters, please.
      Kind regards
      Lisbeth Skovgaard,

  10. Mike Bosworth says

    I have a copy of the complete calendar from 1981 which has never been used and is in excellent condition. It has been in a plastic bag for protection for many years. I was given it by a brewery rep in I suppose 1980 and would be interested in any offers from seriouse buyers.
    Best Regards.

  11. Andrew Hartley says

    i have a complete set of the 1981 calender framed and with glass front. have recently purchaced different pictures to go on the walls and would like to sell this set to someone who really appreciates this fabulous set of prints.if you are interested i am open to sensible offers

    kind regards
    Andrew Hartley

  12. Phil Cormack says

    I have a complete set 100% Original Complete Collection of 12 John Ireland The Gentle Art of Making Guinness( Calendar 1981 Prints Jan to Dec) all in 20¾ inches in length x 16¾ inches wide frames ready to be hung. I feel it’s time for them to go because I have not the room to hang them, and I would like someone who will appreciate them and I would be open to a sensible offer.

    kind regards
    Phil Cormack

  13. mike crocker says

    i have a complete set of original The Art of Making Guiness, and a set of excellent copies, anybody interested?

  14. Adrian Kennedy says

    I was given the 1978 Guinness Calender at the Uxbridge Fare in that year by the Guinness Rep. They are now framed and were hanging in my pub in South Africa. I have now returned to Ireland and if there are any offers, please contact me. I also have two beautiful Guinness mirrors, Framed St. James Gate poster and a Silver Jubilee guinness tankard.

    • stephen gowen says

      Hello i have full set of framed prints for sale in excellent condition making the guinness 1981 by john ireland ..

  15. Dave says

    Hi have the 1981 originals , with J I on the back of each one , these were given to me as a gift from a friend , all this garbage here about them being worth 90 stg is crap , they have been valued for originals at 1800 euro for the set , there are copies , but this is is to see , if any one has an original set , and there were 24 made , hold onto them , the copies are going for 18 each down to 11 each , all original 24 copies of 12 were given to directors of guinness and parent company ,

  16. tom says

    I got the calendar in 1981 and had each picture framed, in a thin mahogany frame with glass. Make me an offer (the Netherlands).

  17. bobbie says

    I have 11 of the months I believe im missing Febuary but I have the one which has the gentle art of making Guinness first page of calender as missing a month would sell for 500 collection only =D

  18. Kellie Gazzard says

    I have 12 framed prints. We had them in our basement hanging on the walls around our pool table and we no longer have a pool table room. The prints are professionally framed in nice black frames. If you are interested please make me an offer. I am located in Sammamish, WA, USA.

    • Brian says

      I am interested in your THE ART OF MAKING GUINNESS prints that you have. Do you still have them and looking to sell them? Let me know how much you want and we can try and do a deal,


      • stephen gowen says

        Hello i have a full set off prints all in frames in excellent condition i am asking £1200.00 for them 2016 prices thank you….

  19. Ian meyrick says

    I have 11. still looking around for No 12 of these prints short of the 2nd one I think, in very verygood condition any offers

  20. david mooney says

    Hi I have a full set of 12 months in original condition , offers over 160 as i am told its very optimistic to look for 60/90 per month , anyway anyone interested can email me ,many thanks Dave

  21. john hughes says

    I have a pristine full original set in original guinness folder of the gentle art of making guinness by john ireland can someone make me a decent offer

  22. chris Szymanski says

    I have a full set of these prints , all mounted , framed and glass fronted ( 1 glass is cracked) . The set is in excellent condition .

    If anybody is interested please make a offer .

  23. Simon Oag says

    I had a full framed set of these and out of the goodness of my heart “donated” them to my local pub – The Tavern Y Felin, Llanelli. Following a change of landlord the “temporary” successor came in and moved on very quickly and “stole” them – if you’re out there I hope you get a good price for them!!

  24. Gary Gillman says

    It’s kind of an amused commentary, as I read it, on the fact that high-tech has mostly overtaken a craft in the various operations of the brewhouse. From the consumer’s standpoint, he will get the heritage part, the main message to be sure, but there is this other aspect to I think especially in the last print. Bellows were never used to dispense Guinness but it’s an exaggerated way to show that dispense of draft Guinness was once at a remove from the neat nitro box shown on the bar counter. Circa-1980 was only 20 years – not even for some parts of London – since nitro dispense was brought in. A beer aware person even in his 40’s and 50’s would have remembered how Guinness was served before the nitro days – and may have recalled the wood cask shown in the corner next to the modern metal one.


  25. Oisin says

    Have a full Original set of 12 months !!! size 12 ” * 17 1/2″ .
    all pristine condition !!! any offers ?

  26. JUNE says

    have 8 of the Guinness pictures, framed and behind glass but missing FEBRUARY – JULY – OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER can anyone help

    • Gill Johnson says

      Are you still looking for your missing months? I have a full set and may consider splitting them for a reasonable price.

  27. Terry edwards says

    I have an original calendar 1981 The Gentle Art Of Making Guiness
    i am thinking of selling, The calendar hung in a pub for that year so the cover
    has a few minor stains but the calendar pages are clean , who can i get to
    value it prior to selling

  28. mike says

    I have a full set of these prints they was in a Guinness folder but I have framed them all in black frames can any one tell me how much these are worth because e I might consider selling for the right price

  29. Gill Johnson says

    If anyone is interested in acquiring a complete set of these posters, in excellent condition, for a very reasonable price, please contact me asap at

    I am moving house and cannot take them with me, I’d really prefer to find a buyer who is a genuine collector so I know they get a new home where they will be appreciated, but if not they will go on gumtree or ebay for best offer.

  30. Susan White says

    I have a complete set of “The Gentle Art of Making Guinness” All in very good condition. They are printed on stiff card and I believe they are original and from 1981 . 12″ x 17 1/2″ . Looking for £30 each plus P+P OVNO. Thanks

  31. Karen Reeve says

    I have a complete set of framed prints, took them with me when I left the pub trade years ago, it is a shame as they are truly lovely but I have nowhere to put them they are just packed away, they deserve to be out on display for all to see, if anyone is interested please contact me with sensible offers, there are in very good condition (could make a fab Christmas present for a Guinness fan!!) telephone 07875440777 or email

  32. Sidthecat says

    I have a complete mounted and framed set – no watermarks or staining, pretty much pristine condition.
    Would consider selling if right offer was made.
    I’m in London UK

  33. says

    I have the full set of John Irelands caricature prints 18 x 12 the art of making guinness, they are still in the original package, it is my intention to sell them asap, i don”t really want to go to auction but am looking for only sensible offers no time wasters please.

  34. john hughes says

    I was gifted with the original 1981 gentle art of making guinness prints in the the original black guinness folder about 15 years ago.They have not been exposed to light and are in emaculate condition and for sale at a sensible offer.

  35. Philip Kirkham says

    I have a full set of the John Ireland 1981Guinness Calendar they are framed but there is fading related to age and hanging on a wall. Is anyone interested in making an offer?

  36. Andrew Clarke says

    I have a complete unmarked 1981 Calendar all months. Pristine condition.

    It’s for sale due to downsizing. I also have a stack of other stuff, from glasses, fonts, commemorative bottles etc.

    Contact me if interested

  37. Patricia says

    I have a full set of the prints but they are mounted on some sort of very heavy black mount. I am looking to sell these but have no idea of value. Anyone interested please reply. They came from a local pub.

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