The son of a trapeze artist, Chantrell was the youngest of nine children. He left Manchester Art College and went into advertising, eventually starting in 1933 at Allardyce Palmer who had accounts with Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox. In 1938 he designed his first film poster The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse.
Chantrell did not see the films he drew for; he would receive a plot line and a handful of stills and use friends and family for poses. Examples of this were taking photographs of himself trying to look like a vampire for Dracula Has Risen from the Grave and his wife Shirley held a plastic sword in the back garden to pose for Princess Leia on the original Star Wars poster. Chantrell's posters were often produced prior to the film being made in order to raise money from investors.
Chantrell designed many posters for Hammer Films and the Carry On films. The latter brought him some trouble when the poster for Carry On Spying had to be changed to avoid looking too much like the Renato Fratini poster for From Russia with Love whilst the Carry On Cleo poster was pulled and redesigned after a lawsuit from 20th Century Fox that the send up looked too much like the original Howard Terpning Cleopatra artwork.
With the move away from illustrated artwork for motion pictures, Chantrell designed covers for videos.
- Brannigan, Sim & Chibnall, Stephan British Film Posters: An Illustrated History 2006 British Film Institute Publishing
- Chantrell posters http://www.britposters.com/chantrell.htm