Saturday, April 05, 2008

A cartoonist writes

Why blog when you can draw?

At first I did the writing thing - in words - because it was somewhere I got to control how what I said was displayed. As a creative person who tends to think in pictures rather than in words - this was important because I don't feel completely confident with letters and words. Letters in code and combination are pesky and elusive things which explains I think why politicians and lawyers love them so.

The blog also has the fringe benefit of being a nice way to advertise my wares without having to use a middleman.

Hack Cartoons Vitruvian Pig - or, the proportions of the artist
This seems to have become more important because of some real world changes to the business world in which I work. This is, or was, print journalism. This industry is going through a period of massive change, or steep decline and death (depending upon who you speak to:-/ Anyone living through one of these periods will tell you how challenging these times can be. Just ask journalists at one of my old papers - The Daily Express.

The economy of Britain supports under a 1,000 professional cartoonists at my best guesstimate. These are resourceful creatures who manage to feed and clothe themselves and their families entirely through their skill at drawing and writing. This number will, in all probability, decline in line with the print industry, if decline it is to be.

The difficulties of the task facing contemporary British-based print cartoonists can be contrasted by the story of Ronald Searle, arguably one of the greatest artists this country has ever produced. A man so pestered in our culture for his advertising work and the successful characters he invented at St Trinians school, that he eventually felt the need to move to France permanently, where he still lives and works aged 88. Nowadays he has a non-pigeonholed freedom to draw about what he pleases, mainly for Le Monde newspaper.

No one can stop economic changes I am noting when they are driven by financial forces far beyond the resistance of any one individual. All we can do as professional image makers is to adapt and make sure we are as visible as we can be.

Some of my colleagues and I have been busy setting up something called The Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation - which is, in advert-speak, exactly what it says on the tin. I like to daydream that Searle might approve.

At present, I edit its diary called the Bloghorn along with Royston Robertson who is busy making a name for himself as a gag cartoonist of note. Our members include many of Britain's finest cartoon talents, (here follows name-droppping) we can boast Ken Pyne, Pete Dredge and Martin Honeysett (all regulars from Private Eye), sages like John Jensen (who's forgotten more about how to communicate in words and pictures than most of us will ever know) and top editorial names like Martin Rowson, Morten Morland, Andy Davey and Dave Gaskill. There are many more cartoonists and artists (too many to list here) and I advise a visit if you have the leisure time, or are in need of a good professional piece of visual communication and the distinct and unusual skills which allows them to be made.

The Bloghorn

Many of us will be performing our tricks at the forthcoming Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival (April 18-20th) - much has been written about it on Bloghorn, if you can get there, come down and see what all this fuss is about.

Matt Buck’s animated drawings

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