Charles Pears worked as a commercial artist from 1890 onwards, providing regular illustrations for periodicals including the Graphic, the Yellow Book and Punch. He had always loved the sea, with a particular admiration for Canaletto, and in the First World War he joined the Royal Marines as a commissioned officer. He was subsequently appointed an official artist to the Admiralty, a role he filled in both world wars. 

Some of Pears's most iconic work was in the form of posters for the London Underground and various railway companies, where he used a bold, graphic style and bright colours.