Tony Matthews was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, East Anglia, England on October 4, 1943, growing up in Hemel Hempstead, and later in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England, where his father worked as a Consultant Pathologist at West Herts Hospital. In his mid-teens, Tony’s fascination with technical illustration began with drawing simple cutaways and exploded drawings of artillery shells, from cross-sections found in an old set of Encyclopedia Brittanica. During his final year at Hitchin Boy’s Grammar School, Tony was introduced to the James A. Allington (the legendary automotive illustrator), by his Careers Master who knew of his artistic abilities and technical drawing skills.
Tony recounts the day he met Allington at his studio: “I went home with my brain trying to cope with all I’d seen in his studio, took out a Mills 75 engine and did a cutaway of it. I took it to him the next day after school and he said “Yep, pretty good, but you’ve drawn all your elipses wrong.” He then did a little sketch to show me that you have a major and minor axis, and that was it – I was on my way! But it was years of doing small illustrations before I could contemplate anything large and complicated. Small illustrations are just as valid as big ones, and can be great fun to do.”