Thursday, September 18, 2008

An evening with cartoonist Gerald Scarfe

PCOers John Roberts and Steve Bright attended a recent illustrated talk given by the caricaturist at Shrewsbury. John reports for Bloghorn:

What struck me almost immediately about him is how charming and mild mannered this notoriously vicious caricaturist is . He admitted during his talk that he uses drawing as a therapy. He says he feels positively ill unless he draws everyday – much like Quentin Blake. He obviously loses his anger and frustrations during the process.

As a cartoonist, I found it fascinating that he claims that he cares little about the finished piece when he starts i.e. he feels that he HAS to get the idea down on paper as fast as possible or else he’ll succumb to some great disaster. He doesn’t really think “Gosh, this is a great idea and I must get it drawn and sold!”

He outlined the drawing process he uses – he never pre-draws in pencil (to keep the artwork "alive" and as fresh as possible) and pointed out with a great flourish of his outstretched arm, that he doesn’t draw with a constrained hand or by using his wrist but with fast and furious arm movements – he “draws from the shoulder”.

He outlined all the various illustration fields he has ploughed over the last 30 years from his famous caricature work (Sunday Times, New Yorker etc), opera designs for both scenery and costumes, animation work for Pink Floyd and his character designs for the animated Walt Disney film Hercules. I also found it very interesting that Scarfe has always been fascinated with animation claiming that it is still a greatly underrated art form which he would love to spend more time working with and developing.

One image stayed with me afterwards and that was of one of his cartoons for the Sunday Times which shows George W Bush, dressed as Superman, flying over the chokingly black smoke and flames of totally destroyed Iraq, with the caption “Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No it’s a F***ing Disaster!” Brilliant.

Further appearances at:
Sunday 21st September: Charleston Literary Festival, East Sussex: 4pm.
Friday 3rd October: Warwick Words Festival - illustrated talk and book signing: 3pm.
Saturday 11th October: illustrated talk at British Museum, London (The Big Draw): 1.30pm.
Saturday 18th October: Cheltenham Book Festival: 10am.
Monday 20th October: illustrated talk, Guildford Festival: 7.30pm. (contact venue for ticket details).
Monday 27th October: illustrated talk at British Library, London: 7pm. (contact venue for ticket details).


The BBC has an illustrated interview with Scarfe here.

The PCO: British cartoon talent