Angela Merkel - Person of the Year

I made an alternative cover for this years TIME Magazine Person of the Year feature. 
(un)Suprisingly, they never went for it. 

Anyway, well done Angie. 

Independent Publishing Award Winner

My illustration for the cover of Hot Rum Cow helped win an award last week. 
Best Consumer magazine cover 2015 at the Independent Publishing Awards in London. 
I remember this job came third in a week where I got four magazine cover commissions. So rather pleased that the sleepless nights that followed ended up being award winning ones. 
Bye bye for the year. 


Pissed Modernism

2 weeks to go until Pissed Modernism. A1 posters will be on sale via the site and also during the event. Starting to get some of the Edinbrew charity labels coming through the post from the artists. I'll post more when I get them.

Here's the facebook event page as well. 


Pissed Modernism is go.

So the exhibition space is confirmed. Edinbrew are on board and the artists line-up is also confirmed. And what a sterling crew it is too.

I got such a great response from folk after posting about it on the Creative Scotland website, i'm going to be spending the next few days emailing everyone and thanking them for their proposals.

In the meantime, i'll have to make some work myself and it started earlier (see above)

For all further information on the exhibition and to see the artists who are taking part, you can go and like the event page on facebook:


All welcome.


Pissed Modernism Exhibition

I've started organising an exhibition in Edinburgh. The "Pissed Modernism" exhibition will be a group event with some super talented folk, looking at politics, society etc... anything that the artists want to comment on. We're also sponsored by local craft brewer, Edinbrew, so hence the "pissed" part of the title.

The venue, Gayfield Whitespace, has also asked if we would do some talks and/or workshops so i'm currently writing a talk on the subject of the business side of illustration, you know, the boring stuff like contracts etc... but something that is always very much overlooked during your time at Art School.

The exhibition will be on 16th October, free entry.


Nature Drawings

You know it must be Summer, as a waft of Nature illustrations are the commission of the day. Here's one i've been working on. Might be nice on a t-shirt?


Nearly Tee Time

Since it's nearly Summer, i've been doing a load more T-Shirts, most of which are available HERE
However, here's a photo of the classic Screen Printed Follow Frank t-shirt, that we took in the 5 minutes the sun came out. Ahh, Scotland.



One of my prints I have hanging in the MTV studios in Camden is Dorothy. A few more people have approached me asking to buy a print so wondering whether to do a run or not as this was a one off. 
Looks good though. 


Action Will.I.Am

I recently completed a face job of The Voice UK, Twitter and "was in a band once" Superstar, will.i.am.
After being forced to research images of him and then stare at his face for a few hours, I realised he just looked like an Action Man of himself. So I drew it...


Spot the difference

Had to make a small change with the MTV mural illustrations. See if you can spot the difference.


The Power of Cartoons

Being an illustrator with a fondness for politics (and taking the piss out of politicians) the recent, tragic shootings in Paris at the offices of Charlie Hebdo really struck a personal chord. And judging by the amount of images/responses posted on social media, I'm not the only one.
However, in the case of Political Cartooning, my depiction of Ed Miliband (below) is far from the level of controversy that Charlie Hebdo reached.

The amount of subtlety that the cartoons published in Charlie Hebdo possessed was none. The cartoons were intended to offend but at least they did not single out any one group. You could say they were the most democratic of offenders. Their images were tasteless hyperbole and aesthetically void. Brushed aside by most, fit only for publication within their own pages.   

But cartoons can be powerful, acting as a universal language with no linguistic barriers between cultures and their impact is immediate. Cartoonists being threatened and attacked is not new. Not least Charlie Hebdo which encountered threats daily, but other examples including Syrian Cartoonist Ali Ferzat

Listening to radio phone ins, reading the papers etc... post-attack, a question that has surfaced is if this incident should now subject illustrations, satirists and commentators to a level of censorship? Of course, everyone wants free speech, but to some extent this censorship already happened: no national newspaper published the Charlie Hebdo images the following day, with the Editor of The Independent confessing to self-censorship. 

Satirical imagery relies on humour. But different cultures find different things funny and within an ever widening integration of various cultures through immigration, France having the largest Muslim population within Europe, should opinions and the illustrations they are expressed in, be subjected to an ethical and moral code? Or should they be banal? 

The mission statement of the Cartoonists Right Network International (CRNI) reads, 

"We do not take a position on any cartoonists political opinions. We simply stand for the rights of an individual to have and to express opinions,...
We offer help to any endangered cartoonist as long as he or she does not advocate hate or violence."

So, it's a you can say anything but don't shout FIRE in a crowded room from the CRNI. 
No doubt free speech is a treasured right. And one thing that Charlie Hebdo did was certainly fight for it. Everyday the cartoonists walked into the office, they were fighting for everyones right to express opinions and ask questions of those they drew. 
But can we say the same for other cartoons? Where does the line get drawn? (pun intended)

In Japan, only last June was a law brought in that banned citizens from the ownership of Child Pornography. The law applied to real imagery of child abuse, but it did NOT apply to Manga and Anime. Popular genre's including Lolicon (short for Lolita Complex) thrive in Japan. Images of very obviously underage girls and boys playing out the most explicit of sexual scenario's. So does Japan have a problem protecting children or are those who chose not to outlaw drawings of child abuse standing up for freedom of thought and freedom of expression, the same as Charlie Hebdo did? 

However, returning to Satire, it's role within our culture and society can not be understated. This universal medium bridges gaps in Society between those who are lead and the leaders, exposing weaknesses and challenging ideologies through mockery and humour. The problem that we have is that Radical Islam has no humour and cannot even see the irony in it's actions. Fascism does not want to be challenged as they hold no answers when questioned.  

If there was an agreement, between artists, to proceed with a code of conduct, how would it be set up? Who would police it? There are SO many questions that it's impossible and it isn't even worth thinking about. So should, on the other hand, we proceed in making imagery of a political, religious, sexual or any other nature completely banal and commonplace? 
However, if nothing is shocking or a bit risqué, then who gives a shit about it? If everything were to be mundane, (as a commercial illustrator I could argue A LOT of illustration already is) it would all just merge into a vast visual desert. As self acclaimed cartoon commentator Bill Mauldin once said, 

"Too many of todays cartoonists regard editorial cartooning as a trade instead of a profession. They try not to be too offensive. The hell with that. We need more stirrer-uppers."  

But Bill Mauldin worked under the brief that he could draw what he wanted "as long as I got it in on time." 
On jobs that i've worked on over the past year, censorship has never been so stringent. I do try and comment on society, politics, religion, but I am always met with a scepticism and element of fear. And I really think that having an opinion on current affairs has turned people away. 

Since the turn of 2015, i've read a lot of articles on the various and ever popular "creativity promoting websites" proclaiming that illustration has run itself into a rut and needs to change; that it's full of bright, pointless shapes dotted about on a page and is just "whimsical". Well I think a lot of that has to do with the illustrators, who every year are churned out of art schools on mass and being told to be "safe," draw a fucking owl and that's that, as it's more commercially viable and it'll be published. But that means there is also a responsibility with those who commission and promote said proverbial whimsical owl. 

Here's a before and after of a recent mural commission I did for a well known Music TV company. The gun was deemed too much and so had to be replaced. 

The works of illustrators, cartoonists and others must, in theory, be shocking or substantial enough to make people sit up and take notice. Works must challenge allusions and hypocrisy of hierarchy, whether elected or self-proclaimed. Work must be humble enough to act as light entertainment yet cut through the underbelly of issues wrong with society and push boundaries on taste and decency. 
Within the age of the internet, imagery has far more reach now than ever before and more shocking images than Charlie Hebdo cartoons, are available to every single one of us at an instant. However, imagery and opinion that is published within a mainstream printed press holds a level of responsibility, in regards to taste, as it reflects on the printed media as a whole. Online publishing can be seen to have a diminished responsibility due to the anonymity and escapism it possesses. 
Cartoonists have a responsibility too. Their work must be intellectual and cunning and challenge those it targets without crossing a line of taste, unlike Charlie Hebdo which frequently stepped over. 

Regardless, one thing that cannot be ever forgotten, is that everyday the offices and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo were under threat. And everyday, without fail, they went in and did what was right; not allowing those who threatened them with force to silence them in questioning ideologies through satire. 
A cartoon can be as important as it is insignificant.  Those who fear them are the ones who try to dictate them: totalitarian regimes, editors and others in power such as politicians. And as we have witnessed, the consequences to those who create them and to others after publication can be devastating as well as unifying.