C. K. L. Samarasinha

Chandrakumara Kuladeepthi De Livera Wickramanayake Samaransinha (1919-2003) was a commercial artist whose illustrious career was even longer than his name. Samarasinhe is widely considered to be Sri Lanka's finest poster artist.

As a young boy, Samarasinhe was studying for his medical school entrance exam at Trinity College in Kandy when his father was transferred to the southern port city of Galle. CKL then joined Richmond college where fate pointed him in a new direction. In 1938, we won 10 First Prize awards at the annual Ruhunu art exhibition earning high praise from such established artists as David Paynter, GS Fernando and Ananda Samarakoon. Nut surprisingly, Samarasinha put aside his medical school ambitions to pursue a career in art.

During the first half of the twentieth century, poster art competitions were very popular in Ceylon and every Government institute and most companies used such competitions to find artists to design their propaganda material. CKL participated in almost every poster art competition and never failed to win! In 1942 the Civil Defence Department began a campaign to make the citizens of Ceylon aware of an imminent attack by the Japanese. Wanting to impress the people on the need to refrain from idle talk, the Authorities wished to create a series of intelligent, thought-provoking posters. CKL won all the prizes at this competition and soon his winning designs were on display everywhere. 'Idle talk kills lives' and 'beware, snakes in the grass' were some of his best known war-era posters.

After the war, he was involved in designing Ceylon's national badge and national Seal. Furthermore, he designed the logo for the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation which even today is one of the best known corporate logos in the country. In 1948, he won first prize for 'the land of song and dance,' a design for the government tourist bureau which remains the best known poster of Ceylon.

Samarasinha worked for the J. Walter Thompson company as an art director until 1956 when he was invited to head the government cooperative advertising department that handled all government advertising and propaganda material. in 1962, he formed his own advertising agency that he managed with his son and daughter until 2000.