Category: Satirical
  1. 4

    Nov 2015

    James Gillray (1756 – 1815)

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    Today marks the opening of a new exhibition at the Cartoon Museum called “Gillray’s Ghost: James Gillray and his influence on political cartoons”. As such I thought it was about time, perhaps even overdue, to look into the inspiration of the exhibition and countless illustrators.

    James Gillray was born in Chelsea, London on August 13, 1756 (or 1757). He was sadly the only child of five to survive infancy. When Gillray was five years old, he was sent away to be educated at the Moravian Academy, Bedford. He left education when he was eight and became an apprentice to a letter engraver, Harry Ashby. After learning the trade, Gillray got bored and decided to join a group of strolling players traveling England, putting on theatrical performances.

    In 1775, Gillray returned to London. He started to sell his engravings to local print shops. When he was 22 he entered the Royal Academy where he studied under Francesco Bartolozzi. He supported himself by selling his engravings. He may have even been submitting a number of caricatures under pseudonyms. The first caricature that is definitively a Gillray is “Paddy on Horseback,” published in 1779.

    In the early 1780s, Gillray set up a small portrait studio on Little Newport Street in Soho. It was not met with great success, garnering very few commissions. Gillray was forced to keep producing etchings. At first they centered around social subjects, but by 1782 he was producing more political caricatures. Around the same time, he began to sell his etchings exclusively to publisher and print seller, Miss Hannah Humphrey.

    Gillray helped Miss Humphrey become a leading print seller in London and in 1793 he moved into a room above the shop in Old Bond Street. Humphrey moved to new premises twice after, the first to New Bond Street, then to St. James’s Street, and twice Gillray accompanied her. In fact, Gillray lived with Miss Hannah Humphrey throughout his period of fame. Humphrey would always have a Gillray in her shop window. Gillray featured Humphrey in at least two of his prints. “Very Slippy-Weather” shows Miss Humphrey’s St. James’s Street shop in the background. In “Twopenny Whist,” the older lady with spectacles and a bonnet is presumed to be Miss Humphrey.

    The regular publication of his etchings in broadsheets both contributed to their popularity and spontaneity. During the height of his success, he took a trip to France and Flanders with fellow artist Philip James de Loutherbourg. In 1805 he published arguably his most recognisable work, “The plumb-pudding in danger.”

    Sadly, just a year later Gillray’s eyesight began to weaken, even with spectacles he could not match his previous high standards. This terribly affected Gillray, being unable to work drove him to depression and drinking. He produced his last print in September 1809. He suffered from gout and further declined mentally. Miss Hannah Humphrey looked after Gillray up until his death on 1 June 1815.

    Strangely, even after producing an enormous body of work and mingling with many influential people in his lifetime, his death went almost without notice. Which is made stranger considering today Gillray is regarded as one of the most influential political caricaturists of all time and has even been called “the father of the political cartoon.”

    Being such an important historical figure there is no shortage of places you can find out more about him and his work. The British Museum has a huge collection of his work. If you are looking for a tastier alternative, perhaps you should check out Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar. There are many published books that feature his work, two of the more sort after being James Gillray: The Art of Caricature and The Satirical Etchings of James Gillray.

    Of course you should also check out the “Gillray’s Ghost: James Gillray and his influence on political cartoons” exhibition. It will feature almost seventy works by Gillray as well as the works of artist he has inspired, including Leslie Illingworth, ‘Vicky’ (Victor Weisz), Nicholas Garland, Peter Brookes, Steve Bell, Peter Schrank, Dave Brown, Martin Rowson, Chris Duggan, and Morten Morland.

    The exhibition will be starting today, 4 November 2015, until January 2016. You can find all the details on the Cartoon Museum website.

  2. 20

    Sep 2015

    Frank Modell

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    September 6th, 1917, saw the birth of Frank Modell. September 6th, 2015, saw him celebrate his 98th birthday. Born in Philadelphia, a twenty-something Modell would head to nearby Atlantic City where he would work as a beach artist. Around the same time, he would also attend Philadelphia Museum School of Art, studying illustration.

    Straight after graduating Modell was drafted and stationed in Great Britain, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, and Germany. All the while he was sending cartoon ideas to The New Yorker magazine. After the war, he was accepted in the ranks of The New Yorker staff. His illustrations would appear in the magazine from 1945 to 1995. During that time he produced six covers and more than one thousand cartoons. Modell also wrote and illustrated several children’s books including Seen Any Cats? (1981), Goodbye Old Year, Hello New Year (1984) and One Zillion Valentines (1987). One Zillion Valentines would be later adapted for a short animation in 1998.

    As well as all of the above, Frank Modell produced animated storyboards for the children’s TV show Sesame Street and shared his acting chops on Broadway and even had a bit role in the Woody Allen film, Stardust Memories (1980).

    A few years ago James Stevenson, a good friend of his, took it upon himself to create an illustrated biography of Frank Modell. It is called The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell It contains drawings which originally appeared The New Yorker magazine, as well as some new illustrations created for specifically for the book. Definitely one to check out. For now, I think I will leave you with a lovely quote from the man himself:

    I paint and make sketches everywhere I go. Drawing funny pictures for a living is as good as it gets and I’m grateful.
    Frank Modell

  3. 20

    Jul 2015

    Diamante Beghetto

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    We were recently contacted by Italian freelance graphic designer and illustrator, Diamante Beghetto, who has embarked on a project titled, Beautiful Jungle. In which Diamante draws on top of vintage photographs using Uni-posca paint markers. Adding creatures and distorting figures, to otherwise mundane imagery, to create humorous yet unsettling visuals.

    Across all Diamante illustration work, you get a real sense that the process is rather organic, that the images feel very much spontanious. Perhaps having an idea but ultimately using the paper to explore and let her mind and hand wonder. Which in turn gives the viewer a similar experience, where your eyes dot across the illustration, trying to make sense of it all.

    You can check out more of Diamante Beghetto’s work on her website and follow Diamante on instagram to see her latest Beautiful Jungle pieces.

  4. 4

    Jun 2015

    Christoph Niemann

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    Christoph Niemann is an award-winning illustrator, artist, and author. Born in Waiblingen, Germany in 1970, he studied Graphic Design at the State Academy of Fine Art in Stuttgart, between 1991 and 1997. After completing his studies, Niemann moved to New York and began his career as an illustrator.

    In 2010 he was bestowed the honor of being inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall Of Fame. The only club that can boast Paul Rand, Saul Bass, Milton Glaser, Andy Warhol and Jim Henson as members.

    So, how did Christoph Niemann get his name included among such greats in less than 15 years?

    Well, his path has been an expensive one, which has seen his work go from strength to strength both personally and commercially. It has seen him work with esteemed publications such as The New Yorker, Time, Wired, The New York Times Magazine. As well as leading corporate clients include Google, Amtrak, Herman Miller and The Museum of Modern Art.

    Niemann is habitually starting projects and in July 2008 he started writing and illustrating Abstract Sunday (previously known as the whimsical Abstract City) as part of the New York Times blog. A personal series in which he explores New York, pop culture, food, music and family life. Using a cross-section of media, from the tradition to the not so traditional, such as Lego, napkins, and leaves. The visual and often abstract series was (and still is) hugely popular putting Christoph Niemann’s name on everyone’s lips. In 2012 Abrams Books compiled sixteen chapters of the blog into highly praised Abstract City.

    Abstract City is one of his many books and projects. More recently Niemann released an interactive picture book for iPad and iPhone called Petting Zoo. Where, quite simply you get to swipe and tap 21 hand-drawn animals in the most amusing, adorable and soothing way.

    For Niemann, concept and visuals go hand-in-hand, he never compromises on either one and is always taking a different approach to best convey the narrative or message. He often plays with our preconceptions and pokes fun at the status quo. Unafraid to be politically contentious nor unashamedly straightforward. The strength of Niemann’s work lies in its clarity and its ability to instantly connect with the viewer. No matter how simple his illustrations sometimes appear, they always invite the viewer to look again.

  5. 23

    Mar 2015

    Gregory Hartman

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    Presenting the work of graphic designer and illustrator, Gregory Hartman. Based in Pittsburgh, Hartman is currently a designer at language-learning service, Duolingo. Hartman’s styles comfortable split into two areas. The first being his re-imagined existing characters, with exaggerated physical features, beautifully rendered. The second is a flatter, icon-inspired, with geometric shapes and limited colours. Where does Hartman get his inspiration from? Well…

    My most reliable source of inspiration is my drive for creating something different.

    You can see more of Gregory Hartman illustrations on his website and on Dribbble.

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