Monday, 11 May 2020

Cleft Awareness Week 2020

Cleft awareness week in 2020 had a theme of mental health with the hashtage #behindeverysmile.  So I drew a comic about all the different emotions I felt as a parent good, back and ugly.  Of course you’re not feeling this all the time and there are times when it is more intense around the operations.

In the middle of coronavirus we’re all experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions.

Monday, 30 December 2019

19 cartoons from 2019

It only seems like yesterday that I did 18 cartoons from 2018 but here are again another year of Brexit and UK politics sinking lower than you thought it could go. However the awfulness did give cartoonists some good material to work with and so here are some of published and unpublished cartoons from the events of 2019.

1. Brexit, Brexit and more Brexit
This cartoon from the January reject pile illustrates the ongoing challenge of 2019 to keep drawing cartoons about the prevailing issue of the day without resorting to cliche and coming up with different angles on what seemed like a year of delay and drama.

2. Global Warming Winter
Here’s a cartoon that Private Eye were going to run but then got pulled when Trump actually tweeted about global warming and snow (they did provide a kill fee). I did draw a fee climate cartoons in 2029 but this was the one that got closest to being published.

3. Valentines Day Stockpiling
It’s easy to forgot but there was several times in 2019 when I was picking up prescriptions wondering if I would get the next one if there was a No Deal Brexit or if we should be stockpiling food.  In reality it would probably be the fresh goods not the cans that would disappear first. Don’t worry we can still do it again at the end of 2020 if negotiations don’t go well. This one was in the Eye.
4. Hedgehog Brexit
This was perhaps my most successful published cartoon of 2019 just after the 31st March deadline got extended by Theresa May I was looking for a spring angle and dragged poor hedgehogs into the political mire. It was in with a batch of what I thought were funnier and clever cartoons but it goes to show how often the one that works captures a mood at a specific time.  As well as being in Private Eye it was also in the Political Cartoon Awards of 2019 down in London.

5. Writer AI
On the technology front there was a story around Feb of AI being able to write news articles and fiction a sort of deep fake for writing which inspired this cartoon which was probably my favourite drawing I got published.

6. Black Hole picture
In April scientists produced the first picture of a black hole at the centre of galaxy M87. This gag was a quick one to produce in Procreate as the image was a blurry ring of fire.

7. Changing name
During the Brexit debates a number of Labour and Tory MPs broke away to form an independent group that would run in the European election. As part of their campaign they changed name and logo several times.

8. London skyscraper pool
Sometimes you just draw a gag based around a social media viral,post in this case a proposed new impossible pool on top of a London skyscraper with no obvious entry point. I liked the drawing but knew it would have limited reuse potential.

9. Facial Recognition
There was court cases about facial recognition’s use on the street this summer and so I drew this cartoon.

10. Tory Leadership Election
When Theresa May stood down as Conservative leader Boris Johnson faced a whole raft of lesser known figures for the crown.  To improve my caricaturing I drew them all and my favourite to draw and listen to was maybe spy Rory Stewart. Boris Johnson won comfortably. This is my only non-cartoon to make my list of 19 “cartoons”.

11. Sugar Tax (1500th Private Eye)
Matt Hancock the health secretary made public some ideas about a ‘Sugar Tax’ to tackle obesity but then in July he dropped them in the dying days of the Theresa May regime.  This was not the only time in 2019 Matt Hancock went back on his principles.  This one appeared with colour in the 1500th issue of Private Eye.

12. Impending election
It’s hard to believe I drew this in August in the midst of speculation that there would be an election (that eventually turned out to be in December). The advantage of making this sort of prediction is that even if your timing was off you knew it would eventually come true and you’d look like Nostradamus.

13. 5G rollout
My last cartoon in Private Eye of 2019 was about oversized 4G masts.

14. Deep Fakes
One of the technology stories of 2019 was about how convincing deep fakes were becoming.

15. Turkish Invasion
When the Trump administration withdrew US troops from northern Syria allowing Turkey to invade claiming it was an anti-terrorist operation against Kurdish groups it was hard to draw a cartoon response when our Kurdish allies were being killed by our NATO allies.  This was all I could come up with.

16. Billionaires
At the start of the election there was much talk about the top 5% and the taxes they pay including tech billionaires.  If you asked Alexa though you might have gotten another opinion.

17. Trump Impeachment
In 2019 the US democrats took the first steps in launching impeachment hearings against Trump who was caught trying to get Ukrainians to give him dirt on his political rival in return for US aid. It will roll into 2020 when the Republican dominated upper house will probably squash it. I drew this around Thanksgiving.

18. Election in Scotland
This was my most successful tweeted cartoon of 2019 drawn on election night after former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said she’d swim nude in Loch Ness if the SNP managed to get 50 seats and the exit poll which was awful did at least make it look like a collapse in the Tory vote in Scotland might deliver such a result. The SNP got 48 seats and Boris got a large majority.

19. Baby Yoda
The big culture hit of 2019 was ‘Baby Yoda’ of the Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian which managed to outshine the last Star Wars movie and perhaps the traditional Christmas characters.

Thanks to everyone who liked, RTed or commented on my work in 2019. It was a year I joined the PCO, was in exhibitions in Edinburgh and London and sold work, as well as being published in the Private Eye and the New York Times Upfront magazine. Who knows what 2020 brings but I hope we all do better politically than we did in 2019.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

March of Robots

Almost every month on twitter now has its own associated art challenge with #inktober probably being the biggest. Last year I did inktober and an IllustrationHQ small drawing challenge but this year instead of doing lots of other things I took part in #MarchOfRobots which is bigger on Instagram run by Dacosta! aka ChocolateSoop.

Now usually l have a habit of making things up as I go along but by about March 3rd I had settled on a consistent style and theme of ‘Robots at Work’.  I like drawing robots and one of the earliest cartoons I sold to Private Eye was on this theme (you can see it in the 2017 summary)

So every day of March I had to find a robot occupation for that day’s prompt for example on day 6 the prompt was ‘key’ so I came up with a robot writer (which is also the theme of a cartoon I drew for the current issue of Private Eye).

One of the joys of this project was adapting old or current technology to make strange robots like this BarberBot.

Finally this was my favourite robot drawing from the whole month because I like the mini story contained within the illustration of a fortune telling AI.

You can see all 31 of my images including a Peter Crouch football robot gag on my twitter account (@cartoonsidrew) in the moments section.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Maud Wagner

This week's Thursday night #PortraitChallenge over on Twitter was to reinterpret a 1907 photograph of Maud Wagner circus performer and the first known female tattoo artist (you can read the Wikipedia article here).

Drawing people and getting likenesses is currently one of my favourite challenges but drawing heavily tattooed people adds an extra layer in that you have to do the added artwork without making it look like it is just drawings on top of drawings but is actually on the skin.  I used Procreate and procrastinated for several hours just drawing Maud's face and skin before diving into the wonderful array of tattoos including lions, snakes, horses, butterflies and down on the arm what might be seahorses or some other creatures.  The other challenge is the photograph is sepia so you had to imagine your own colour scheme which actually made it more interesting.  All in all I think I took three hours on this and I did do a thread of progress pictures and a 30s time lapse if you want to see how it built up.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Shetland DI Jimmy Perez

There are always crime shows on in our house so I was thinking of starting to draw some of the detectives from the telly.  This is the brilliant DI Jimmy Perez played by Douglas Henshall.

What makes Shetland is the combination of the characters and the unique setting.  For some reason it reminds me a bit of Taggart with it's Scottish grit and indeed sometimes they have to leave the island for the big smoke of Glasgow where we can spot local landmarks.  Shetland is an adaption of the Ann Cleeves novels (who also wrote Vera) shown on the BBC but made by ITV studios.

With so many murders every night I'm actually quite dismissive of a lot of generic detective shows (oh he's a maverick is he?) so I'm not sure who I'll tackle now.

In the meantime if you are into crime shows you should give this one a go.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

18 cartoons from 2018

Another epic year passes with more news of inept governments and impending disasters so what better way to look back than at 18 cartoons I did this year some of which got published and some of which belonged firmly in the reject pile.  Either way I always enjoy looking back and telling the story of 12 months in topical cartoons and so here is one of those lists but without making you scroll through clickbait-y adverts.

1. Facebook all seeing Eye

I drew this cartoon at the start of the year but all year long there was a steady drip drip of stories about how much Facebook knows about it's users and who they were sharing it with and what that data could be used for.  I'm sure it's all better now.

2. Tardigrade Mum

Art challenges on social media are often good for sparking off ideas and taking you down tangents you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.  In this case it was drawing something about tardigrades the super resilient micro-animals around mothers day.
  This went about as viral as any of my comics went this year.

3. Space Force

If I were an American cartoonist I imagine I'd spent most of 2018 drawing Trump cartoons given the amount of news his behaviour and tweets generate.  I did attempt a few this year one of which about his cancelling of the Iran treaty did make it into print but I enjoyed drawing this one the most.
  The Space Force is the Trump administration's idea of allowing the US military to weaponize space with a new branch to sit alongside the Navy, Air Force and Army.

4. Duck Cluck-bait

This animal on a computer cartoon ended up in the Eye and was reprinted in the Week.  Looking at all my cartoons I've noticed I draw many many drawings of animals and people sitting in-front of screens.

5. Royal Baby

If I had to pick my favourite cartoon I drew this year it would probably bee this one about the third royal baby from Kate and William.  The news outlets do like a good story about the royals to break up all the domestic political goings on. 
  This cartoon and the next three were all in a run of three consecutive issues of Private Eye that I had cartoons in.


GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation an EU regulation on data protection and privacy which no-one who had ever worked in IT or signed up for any online service could avoid around the May 25th deadline.
  Everyone from charities, small clubs to every online shop and website had to get in touch with anyone they had details on to talk about how they were going to responsibly police their data resulting in a deluge of emails.
  This is one of those relatable topical cartoons which was perfect for the time but won't mean too much in the future.

7. Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution was a huge topic in 2018 and an environmental issue few could argue against with lots of evidence that it was harmful to marine life.  By the end of the year my own children were quizzing us on our own use of single use plastics having been taught about it in school.
  There were lots of cartoons on the subject floating around and I was glad one of my own to the pile.

8. Robot Cat and Dog

One of the creepiest videos of 2018 was of the robot dog being developed by Boston Dynamics that could open doors.
  Sometimes you spend ages trying to come up with a gag and sometimes they just come to you quite easily like in this case.

9. Alexa

Every year there is one or two topics or ideas that come into my head over and over again when I'm thinking what to draw.  Quite often like in the case of fidget spinners and slime I never come up with a great gag and they all end up in the reject pile but it's fun trying.  Alexa was one of those topics of 2018 when I had a summer holiday, Christmas and other variants on the same theme.  However one of my older Alexa jokes was quite popular one of the days Alexa went down.

10. Luxury Cheese
You would think the omnishambles that is Brexit would be a constant source of cartooning comedy but it isn't a subject I find it easy to come up with good gags for.  For one there are already lots of cartoons out there on the subject and so another off a cliff cliche isn't going to wow anyone if you don't have a good angle.  About the best I did in 2018 was there was a story about luxury cheese being hard to find after a No Deal Brexit resulting in this cartoon.

11. VARS World Cup

With the World Cup in Russia we were expecting the main England football story to be hooliganism not that a new manager in a waistcoat would turn a decent young team into semi finalists.  Watching England not being rubbish was perhaps the closest my 2018 to a real good news story.
  The other World Cup story was VARS the video referee that they chose to trial on the biggest stage rather than perfect it in some other leagues.

12. Free Hugs

Not every cartoon has to be topical and I enjoy drawing lions

13. Parker Probe

The NASA Parker probe launched in August is on a mission to the outer corona of the Sun.  Here is my attempt at a gag about it.

14. Conservative Conference I

This topical cartoon combines two of my favourite themes the ineptness of the ruling Conservative party and technological mishaps.  It is based on the BBC's Bodyguard series which was perhaps my favourite TV drama of the year (although they wrapped it up a bit too conveniently).
  As a visual gag there was perhaps too much going on but Private Eye did use it for the basis of a (better) written joke so the idea got published even if the visuals never were seen until now.

15. Conservative Conference II

The  Conservative Conference gave us another great 2018 moment in Theresa May's speech which didn't involve cough sweets and props falling down like last year but strange dance moves as she came on.
  It gave me a chance to practise my caricaturing skills both for her and the Strictly judges.

16. Dynasties

Some of the the best BBC content is the David Attenborough nature documentaries which this years was the Dynasties series.  I drew this cartoon before I'd watched it and maybe it isn't the funniest but I did like the drawing of the elephant.

17. Rudolph's right on rant

This one is from @studioteabreak's Monday #MythicalMashup challenge which gives you two prompts one of them mythical and can lead to all sorts of unexpected places.  In this cartoon I got Rudolph to deliver some devastating social commentary on the injustice of Santa which I have tried before in other forms but this one has a certain charm about it.

18. Brexit news

And to remind it off a reminder that you just can't escape from some stories and we have months of Brexit stories to keep us going in 2019 and probably for the rest of your natural lives.

So that's my 2018 batch done - hoping you all have a good 2019 and that in twelve months time I have 19 more to share with you again (unless society has collapsed).

Monday, 11 June 2018

World Cup MIFA Project

MIFA stands for Missing In Footie Album and is Dave Will's pre-World Cup project to have artists and illustrators across the globe make football sticker designs for all the players who are in the 2018 World Cup squads but didn't make the official Panini sticker album due to squads being announced and changed after the official album is finalised.

I only discovered this fun project when Peter Rasmussen or @badlydoodled who I follow on Twitter posted his entry and so I dived in to pick a player while there were still some left.  Some furious scribbling later and messing around between multiple apps and my entry is one of the 254 on show by over 150 artists and there is a great variety of styles and some stunning artwork.

I chose Bartosz Bialkowski from the Poland Squad who plays for Ipswich Town in the English Championship.  He made his international debut aged 30 back in March although he has strong competition from the usual No.1s of Fabianski (Swansea) and Szcesny (Juventus) for a starting place in the squad.

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