Thursday, August 30, 2007

PCO Procartoonists - cartoon art

Brian Sewell, the really quite grown up enfant terrible of the whacky, zany world of art criticism, when asked if cartooning was an art, replied “Oh no. It’s a facility.“ A polysyllabic reply, if nothing else.

But more than that, he and others in his profession or trade or art or facility are regularly put on the spot by a label-hungry media and public, and asked to bestow names; to make things tidy.

Therefore we get; that’s art, that’s not, that’s Jack Vettriano. (I suspect Mr Sewell wouldn’t be so kind).

I also suspect that he doesn’t know much about cartooning. He’s not alone in that.

Has he really looked at Mike Williams, Ray Lowry, Martin Honeysett, Heath Robinson, Ralph Steadman...[that’s enough - Ed] because good cartooning is so obviously an art. It shoots itself in the foot because it is also funny.

Mr Sewell and his friends say that real art is, and must be, serious.

We are not all in the class of the cartoonists mentioned above, I’ll bet that whilst Peter Paul Rubens was whacking out paintings of his big ladies being harassed by variously-hued male abusers, down the street and around the corner, were many other lesser lights striving towards the exactly the same end.

And yet, when one “In the School of Titian” turns up at Sotheby’s, it is still “art”.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

PCO Procartoonists - Artist of the month: Martin Honeysett

It's the last week to enjoy Martin Honeysett's work as the first PCO artist of the month.

The PCO says click H for Honeysett

Friday, August 24, 2007

PCO Procartoonists - The power of images

The BBC magazine has produced an interesting piece on family board games from World War 2. When you read the piece and look at the games, they were clearly no more than thinly disguised political propaganda.

At the time these were made, sold and distributed, the government, who encouraged their production, was clearly, keenly aware of the power that drawn cartoon and comic imagery had as an attractive sales device.

Presumably, BLOGHORN thinks, the power of what professional artists do, has not changed in the intervening 60 years, but the context in which art with a message can be used has clearly changed a very great deal. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

PCO Procartoonists - An artist’s story

PCO member Noel Ford writes;

I've just had an interesting and, for me, unique experience, complete with ironic twist, that should be of interest to any cartoonists with a grievance concerning the unauthorised use of their cartoons.

Earlier this year, a client informed me that three of the of the cartoon illustrations which I had produced for him, had been spotted in a business magazine, decorating a feature. Consequently, I wrote to the editor of this magazine, informing her that she had published the cartoons without obtaining permission from either my client or myself. I was quite polite, and said that, in this case, the matter could be resolved by her paying me for repro rights, for which I enclosed an invoice.

I received no reply.

I phoned, explained the situation, and was told the editor would call me.

She didn't.

I phoned again, and spoke to the magazine's business manager, who promised everything would be sorted.

It wasn't - and he didn't call back.

I phoned again. Neither the editor or the business manager was available, so I asked for a call back, adding that I would not call again and that should they not contact me, I would commence legal proceedings.

They didn't call back.

I wrote a final formal letter, informing them they were in breach of my copyright, and confirmed that unless I heard from them forthwith, I would take the matter to the courts.

They didn't reply.

So, having made the threat, I was obliged to follow through, and I went to the website of Her Majesty's Courts Service here

Submitting my claim, on line, was both easy and quick. I had to pay £30, which would be added to my claim.

The court served my claim on the 8th of August. Whether the editor was happy to concede my claim or she just didn't fancy the trip from SE England to Aberystwyth to defend her magazine, I don't know, but I received a cheque from them this morning for the full amount of my invoice, plus my court costs.

So, the moral is, don't stand by and do nothing but moan if your work is used without consent. The law is there, and HMCS and the Internet make it easy to claim.

And the ironic twist? The magazine had used my cartoons to illustrate a feature on how to avoid being sued.

The PCO says: Hooray! And check out F for Ford at our portfolio website

Saturday, August 18, 2007

PCO Procartoonists - Artist of the month - August 2007

Please enjoy this drawn reminder that Martin Honeysett is the PCO's artist of the month. Click H for Honeysett.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday, August 9, 2007

PCO Procartoonists - Advice from a professional cartoonist

PCO member Nigel Sutherland says;

I could worry myself about rival cartoonists and agents etc., but that would just lead to unnecessary stress and time wasted. While it's right to be aware of what's going on in the "industry" I find it better and more productive to concentrate on what I'm doing and in promoting myself.

The PCO says, click S for Sutherland.

PCO Procartoonists: On music and making art

PCO member Bill Stott writes;

The conductors of the country's five main philharmonic orchestras
have issued a manifesto to the government, deploring levels of understanding and accessibility to classical music with regard to "the majority of young people" in the UK. One of many recommendations, amongst the usual cries for more and better teaching of music, is for orchestras to offer free admission for young people to certain concerts. A small group were interviewed on radio and individuals said that it had been a positive experience. AND that they'd go again.

I think that one of the reasons behind the shrinking cartoon market in magazines and newspapers is the relative youth of editors. If that's a problem now, it will be a much bigger one in ten years time when some young high flyers will have been toddlers when Punch breathed its last, and in the interim, many more mags will have dropped cartoons. Even the long and honourable tradition of political cartooning isn't immune to the insiduous creep of young people with Photoshop palsy.

So, if the musicians can get 'em young, why can't cartoonists?

Obviously, unlike the musicians we can't have a group of kids peering over our shoulders while we work. Quite a few cartoonists work, with the approval of LEAs (Local Education Authorities), doing cartoon workshops in schools and colleges. But I suspect those workshops deal with the HOW of cartooning, and not the WHY. I don't envisage a whizzbang powerpoint light show with FAQs. Work of different types available, yes, and a hardcopy handout, but mainly a Q&A session with sixth formers (or equivalent) - a discussion with a successful, freelance cartoonist (or two) who may well demonstrate their preferred techniques, but would NOT be running a how-to workshop. In my experience, schools are always on the lookout for able professionals from all sorts of jobs to come and talk about what they do. How does a joke happen? How do you say a hundred disparaging things about the American president in one picture?

Given the quality, experience, and communicative skills embodied in the PCO, the organisation might do well to take a leaf from the musicians' book.

It has been pointed out that the PCO and Foghorn the Bloghorn do have some history with music...

Cartoon strip, courtesy of the PCO's Andy Davey.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

PCO Procartoonists - Artist of the month: Martin Honeysett

Martin Honeysett's work has appeared in many magazines and newspapers, including Punch, Private Eye, The Spectator, Readers Digest, The Sunday Telegraph, and The Observer.

He has written and illustrated books for both children and adults and illustrated books by various authors such as Sue Townsend, Dick King Smith and Ivor Cutler.

He has exhibited and won awards at several international competitions. The Cartoon Art Trust nominated him as Gag Cartoonist Of The Year in 2004. He has also been a visiting professor at Kyoto Seika University in Japan 2005-07. The link, above, is to a fantastic interview with the man himself.

And now he's also the PCO’s first artist of the month. This is a new feature for Bloghorn and will be a regular event.

The PCO says click H for Honeysett.

Monday, August 6, 2007

PCO Procartoonists - A non-digital cartoonist reports

PCO member Bill Stott writes; The 74/26 German split in favour of digital art, written about by Andy Davey, is today's glimpse of the obvious.

I'll probably never use a computer to make cartoons - notwithstanding Wacom board and magic pens etc. I'm too old. The irritating language of computers makes me very tired. Boot up = Switch On. Groan. I won't join their gang. I don't have a Tesco clubcard either. I like there being nothing between me and the picture. I make the marks.

But that doesn't make computers any more or less than a way of making pictures.That I don't like digital perfection - and I really don't - is irrelevant. A digitally produced cartoon is as valid as one produced using a sharpened vole on buckskin.

Verification of originality lies in a signature, always assuming that those artists completely reliant on computerised whizz-bangery can still write their own names.

(The editor says click S for Stott to see Bill's resolutely non-digital, watercolour cartoons.)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

PCO Procartoonists - The digital age meets the papyrus

A German cartoon mag called “Don Quichotte” has published a survey on whether “digital” caricatures and cartoons, should be eligible for international caricature competitions alongside “traditional” ones. This was supposedly answered by 700 cartoonists and cartoon “fans”. The result was 74%-26% in favour of admitting digital art. This is a welcome, if belated admission that a computer is just another tool in the artists’ toolbox and will be a kick in the pants for those cartoon competition organisers who demand “original” (i.e. marks made on paper with pens, pencils, quills etc.) artwork in order to build a collection of cartoon artwork for their museum/foundation at double quick time.

It does rather muddy the waters for gallery owners though. Collectors like to collect original art. Maybe it’s the frisson of actually seeing the scratchy, messy results of the frenetic panic of a cartoonist attempting to meet his/her deadline. You, as the proud owner of the original artwork, now know that those vast areas of white page, which mere passing readers may have admired as bold compositional flourishes, conceal, in fact, half a dozen previous attempts to paint in a battle scene, now embalmed in half a gallon of Tippex. Whatever the reason, original art attracts higher prices. But what of the “digital” artist? Is his/her output “worthless”? Many cartoonists now routinely use a Wacom board and “magic” infrared pen to create their artworks without ever picking up a sheet of paper. The programmes (Painter, Photoshop, Illustrator etc.) allow almost any stylistic conceit. They are, of course, only as good as the frazzled artisan directing the cursor, so the results of some experiments show as much grace and dexterity as the proverbial cow firing a musket.

Bring on the bright, feather-bedded future, awash with giclee prints.