The saying goes that you should never meet your heroes. But for one Flintshire-based artist and massive Beatles fan, it couldn't be more wrong.

Jeff Cummins' career has seen him produce book and album covers, and posters, featuring some of the most biggest names in TV, film and music, since the 1970s.

Now a collection of his work, and the stories that go with them, are to feature in a new book, The Invisible Artist.

The National Wales: Jeff Cummins' new book The Invisible ArtistJeff Cummins' new book The Invisible Artist

The title reflects the fact that despite his work being known and out there, most people are unaware that it was Jeff who did it.

He adds: "Illustration is everywhere but people don't necessarily take it onboard as art, it's user friendly. It's kind of invisible but all around us."

The 67-year-old, originally from Holywell, studied graphic design at Kelsterton College in Connah's Quay, and then started his creative career path with a job in Buckinghamshire in 1974.

The National Wales: The artist Jeff Cummins, who is originally from Holywell in FlintshireThe artist Jeff Cummins, who is originally from Holywell in Flintshire

Jeff and his wife moved back to the area about six years ago, leaving his job and returning to freelancing.

With big hitters like Sir Paul McCartney and Doctor Who on his CV, he certainly went on brighter things but it all started with a martial arts legend.

Jeff said: "Where my work comes from it's a bit like being a hero-worshipper. I watched far too much TV, as a kid, lots of radio.

"I'd paint anybody that was heroic in my life as a child.

The National Wales: One of Jeff Cummins' early pieces of artwork depicting the martial arts legend, Bruce LeeOne of Jeff Cummins' early pieces of artwork depicting the martial arts legend, Bruce Lee

"The idea of turning that into a living was insanity really but I sent a painting to Kung-Fu Monthly magazine.

"Everyone was into Bruce Lee and he'd recently died, so took on this immortal status.

"I painted him and sent it, waited to see what would happen. They phoned me back and said they wanted to run it as a poster.

"And that was the initial kick-off for me."

Subsequent paintings of Lee went onto feature as the cover and other posters for the publication.

It was pretty soon afterwards that Jeff went freelance, and started chasing anyone and everyone for work.

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He said: "I was a massive Beatles fan, and a friend at college showed me some record covers in their collection, and they were illustrated.

"I thought 'wow, that's like two passions in one go'. So that was always my main aim, to do record covers.

"When I went freelance in the mid 70s, I tried to find Paul McCartney.

"I got a copy of the Yellow Pages, found his company's number and phoned it and asked to speak to his manager.

"They actually put me through, and I told him I was really keen to do record sleeves.

"I only had my college work portfolio and a few kung-fu things to show him but he invited me in. He gave me a project, right there and then."

Jeff was tasked with coming up with some ideas for Thrillington, an orchestrated version of McCartney's album, Ram.

This led to another Cummins/McCartney collaboration for the Wings Over America triple live album. Jeff's work fills the double spread of the inside sleeve.

The National Wales: Jeff Cummins' inside sleeve artwork of album Wings Over AmericaJeff Cummins' inside sleeve artwork of album Wings Over America

For the big Beatles fan, it was a huge deal but Jeff amusingly recalls: "I remember the first time I met him, when he walked in the room, all I could think of was how familiar he looked.

"There was another time I was up to do the cover of the film of the Wings Over America tour, and they set up a video of the gig.

"I was to go up and watch it to come up with some ideas, and it was right at the top of Paul's office in Soho.

"There was a mezzanine area and he was there George Martin [record producer] and another guy.

"He was playing a little tune, which I later realised was from Rupert and the Frog Song.

"I started watching the Wings film, and Paul came back with a storyboard to show me, to tell me all about the Rupert film he was doing.

"I couldn't believe I was just there, watching my hero. It wasn't until I was on the train home and I thought 'what the hell just happened!'."

The National Wales: Original Doctor Who book artwork and cover by Jeff CumminsOriginal Doctor Who book artwork and cover by Jeff Cummins

In The Invisible Artist Jeff also delves into his days capturing the many famous faces of Doctor Who's titular star, of which one of his favourites is Tom Baker.

Jeff said: "I would be sent down to the BBC photo library to find out what they had on a particular episode that would relate to a book I was doing.

"I loved the first Doctor, William Hartnell, he was great and I was terrified like every other kid.

"But when Tom Baker came in I really liked him, and he was great to draw."

On being presented with a print of Jeff's artwork, from Horror of Fang Rock, Baker even exclaimed it was his favourite Doctor Who cover ever.

The National Wales: A Doctor Who book cover by Jeff CumminsA Doctor Who book cover by Jeff Cummins

Now Jeff is ready to collate his lifetime of work, sharing anecdotes, paintings and how some came to be.

The artist said: "I'm at the tail end of my career, and I thought it would be quite nice to put it all out there, close the lid on it with some kind of retrospective."

The National Wales: Original Radio Times artwork and cover by Jeff CumminsOriginal Radio Times artwork and cover by Jeff Cummins

It's a fitting finale for the man whose work will feature in homes worldwide, that his own book may now be included among them.

• To order a copy of The Invisible Artist by Jeff Cummins, visit www.candy-jar.co.uk or to checkout more examples of Jeff's work, visit his website.

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