We’re passionate about art, and we always have been. In 1960, Leonard Cowling & Bernard Wilcox went into partnership, specialising in supplies for commercial art and graphic studios based in London. From here, Cowling & Wilcox Ltd. was born.
1961 saw the launch of our very first shop at No. 61 Broadwick Street, Soho. This move attracted many young artists to the area and a vibrant community was born through the combination of a good source of supplies, affordable rents and a common interest in the arts.
The ‘60s were exciting. We were the first in London to stock the Letraset Dry Transfer System, which changed the way the commercial artist worked. We designed the very first Artist Portfolio, which changed the way that artists display their work. This lead to the formation of our portfolio and presentation department, which we continue to operate both in-store and online.
With the demolition of our premises at No. 61 Broadwick Street we were very fortunate to be able to move across the road to a brand new shop at No 26. We soon overflowed into No 28 and with the two shops combined settled down for the next 40 years.
The last 10 years have seen Cowling & Wilcox undergo many changes. We expanded our outfit and opened our trendy Shoreditch branch to supply to the East End, as well as our huge warehouse and retail space in Camberwell to look after our customers in South London.
In 2011, Cowling & Wilcox went digital. Due to overwhelming customer demand we set up the first iteration of our online presence, launching a successful e-commerce website. 2013 saw us expand into North London with the opening of our Highbury store, providing quality art materials to yet another area of London. Shortly afterwards came the Canterbury branch – our first foray outside of London.
The decision to close our Soho store in April 2014 was an extremely difficult one. After trading in Soho for over 50 years it sparked the end of an era, but also provided Cowling & Wilcox with an exciting opportunity for a rethink. At the end of 2014, we moved our HQ and distribution to Folkestone in Kent, which affords us a lot more space and allows us to take Cowling & Wilcox onto the next stage of its development. We're all very excited about our plans for the next few years in our new home.
To this day we continue to uphold our original concept of providing specialist fine and graphic art materials at exceptional prices. We’re devoted to upholding this mission statement as we expand and evolve into the future. With the knowledge and expertise we’ve come to develop over the years we will continue to bring you the very best products on the market at the most competitive prices.
Our customers are creatives with an astonishing body of work, and we always relish the opportunity to see what you create with our products. Whether you’re a hobbying artist or a professional, young or old, traditional or contemporary, our future is you.