Can’t recall if I already mentioned that for a while I made a modest crust designing greetings cards and I also can’t recall what on earth the concept was behind this “DON’T” series? I cannot think of many occasions when one would either present, or wish to be presented with the sort of messages displayed here. Perhaps I actually intended them as posters for a psychiatrist’s waiting room? Who knows?
They were done using sheets of coloured acetates with drawn-then-stenciled figures positioned beneath. In the pre-digital age, this was a tried and tested method for artists on low budgets (without access to things like lithography or screen printing) to achieve clean blocks of solid colour and sharp edges.
Whatever, the images seem reasonably affecting looking at them now.
In an earlier post I promised to reveal the fruits of my hours spent in the life room at St. Martins.
I always try to keep my promises, so here are the contents of my sketchbook dated 1979.
Looking at these drawings now after so many years hidden away in a drawer in my old plan-chest, what strikes me is their raw honesty. How good or bad they are I’m not the one to judge (although I’ve seen worse), but whatever else, they are truthful, even to the point of portraying how terribly bored the models were in most of the poses. I can also perceive the instinctive cartoonist in me trying to break out, especially in F&M 1.
I referenced several of these in my biblical themed paintings later that same year, especially the Adam and Eve series, and then in 1980, a couple of them were very useful for my “Wanderers” pictures.
In the late 1980’s when I was still doing a great deal of cartooning and comic art, someone – but I can’t recall who – suggested that I send in some of my politcal cartoons to the broadsheet newspapers to see if they were interested. However, as I was well aware, most newspapers had long-established relationships with their main leader cartoon artists, so I knew that the chances of dislodging any of them were very slim.
But there were two factors that gave me a little hope.
I knew that the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs had failed to replace Nicholas Garland with another leader cartoonist since his leaving the paper in 1986 and I also had the moral backing of the ex-Thatcher home secretary, Kenneth Baker, whom it so happened was /is an avid collector of political cartoons, and who’d seen and very much liked my work, and expressed as much in writing.
So I decided to give myself a project of doing a leader-style cartoon for the main news story of each day of a single week and then send them in to the Telegraph.
Sadly, nothing came of the enterprise. The Telegraph people were very polite and told me that they had just given the post to a new artist on a permanent basis, but that I should try again, should the position ever become vacant in the future. As rejections went, it was one of the better ones I ever experienced in all my creative incarnations, but I never did get around to re-submitting news-cartoon artwork to the Telegraph, or any other publication.
Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced four of the seven cartoons I did that week (it might be that I sent them to Kenneth Baker as a thank you, but I’m not certain), so I can only reproduce three of them here.
If anyone can remember the stories or the period I was covering with these I’d be most grateful for a reminder. For what it’s worth, looking at them now, I think I did a mean Leon Brittan – and not many people can say that!