About Us

Paint Splash Logo Full

Shoreditch, Highbury, Camberwell & Canterbury.


Established 1960

In 1960 Leonard Cowling and Bernard Wilcox went into partnership specialising in supplies for commercial Art and Graphic Studios. An office was obtained near London’s old Billingsgate Market and Cowling & Wilcox Ltd. was born.

In 1961 a need for larger premises led to the lease of a small shop at No 61 Broadwick Street, Soho, in London’s West End. Our move to Soho attracted many young artists to this area where they could find a good source of supplies, affordable rents and like-minded people. The Art Schools were producing Design Graduates full of confidence and enthusiasm, ready to take on the world.

Our Soho store
Our Soho store

The 1960’s gave us The Beatles, Carnaby Street and most important to us Letraset, developed by two young designers just three streets away. They came to us first to test their Wet Transfer Letters but when they invented the Dry Transfer System we welcomed it with open arms and we were the first in London to have stocks. Selling at 5 shillings (25p) per sheet it was a huge money spinner for us, everyone wanted it and it changed the way the commercial artist worked.

The 60’s were exciting. We designed the first Artist Portfolio and added Presentation to our range. 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.

Growing Steady

Shoreditch (left) & Camberwell (right)
Shoreditch (left) & Camberwell (right)

In the last ten years we have opened shops in Shoreditch to supply the expanding East End of London and a larger warehouse/retail shop at Camberwell to look after our customers in South London. In 2013, we expanded into north London with our most colourful shop to date. With a new influx of families and students into the Holloway Road area recently, we saw an opportunity to open a new shop to service this exciting part of London.

Inside our Highbury store

With great emotion, we were forced to close our Soho shop in April 2014 after trading in Soho for over 50 years! At the end of the year, we moved our HQ and distribution down to Folkestone in Kent which allows us a lot more space at better value 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.

Canterbury (left) and Folkestone (right)
Canterbury (left) & Folkestone (right)

We have kept to the original concept of a Specialist Fine and Graphic Art Shop but have recently added Digital Supplies and Quality Designer Stationery to our range. Our Fine and Graphic Art Lines are as strong and as competitive as ever and a comprehensive Craft Department rounds us off nicely.

Portfolios & Presentations

Always a strong interest of ours, we have dedicated showrooms at all 3 shops and a very fine web site at http://www.portfoliosplus.com where you can browse through our fantastic range of presentation portfolios.

Leonard Cowling

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