A tribute to William Heath Robinson

Tribute to William Heath Robinson cartoon

Heath Robinson style cartoon - detail

Detail

This cartoon was drawn as a tribute to William Heath Robinson on the occasion of the opening of the new Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner (where Heath Robinson lived).

This cartoon shows a Heath Robinson style contraption and is captioned “A contraption for capturing unusually shaped clouds”.

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Weird illustration of a person with a padlock as a head – and the key as a pet

Surreal cartoon of a person with a padlock as a head and a key as a pet

Bizarre illustration of a padlock as a person’s head

A bizarre or surrealist image showing a person with a padlock as a head – and with the padlock’s key on a lead like a pet dog.
The image was created with no specific meaning, although it’s probably an unconscious metaphor for something as it gives the impression of aspiring to be psychologically meaningful.

Perhaps it’s meant to refer in some ways to psychology or psychological processes, the workings of the mind, the conceptualisation of ideas and such like. Perhaps it’s about the way that people become locked into particular patterns of thought and behaviour (while possessing the key to their release).
A cartoon about cognition, thought processes, psychiatry, the mind.
I think it owes a debt to surrealist art, with a touch of Rene Magritte or salvador Dali in there

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A hammer nailed down by nails

Conceptual illustration. A hammer nailed down

Conceptual political illustration or cartoon
A hammer nailed down. Did the nails nail down the hammer to stop the hammer hitting nails?

Cartoon about overthrowing tyranny
The hammer is a metaphor for a tyrant (perhaps), or at least an oppressive force or feared presence.
The hammer seems to have been attacked by nails, perhaps because hammers normally ‘attack’ (or at least hit) nails.
Are the nails there to stop the hammer hitting more nails and thus committing more violence?
Or was the hammer nailled down by another hammer?
The hammer is leaking blood in a rather surreal and gruesome way

A cartoon about violent revenge, surrealism, dada, tools, crime, motives

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Anthropology cartoon

anthropology cartoon

Cartoon – anthropologists discover “the tribe that hides from man”

Jungle explorers discovering a lost tribe

The lost tribe is selling souvenirs with messages such as “I’ve visited the tribe that hides from man!”
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Copyright illustration – Mickey Mouse

copyright cartoon illustration

A cartoon about copyright

A stylised Mickey Mouse symbolising the concept of copyright

Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse, was famously very enthusiastic in controlling the unauthorised use of his cartoon characters. I’m in favour of such control myself, especially when characters are appropriated for financial gain. However representations of famous cartoon characters (or any other images) in order to make a comment is a legitimate use of an image – as here!

This illustration featured in an exhibition in the Cob Gallery, London, titled Pastiche, Parody and Piracy (June/July 2014).

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Philosophy cartoon – the human condition

Philosophy - the human condition cartoon

Philosophy cartoon
A signpost to doom

Cartoon. A signpost pointing to negative conditions of the human psyche in all directions (sadness, misery etc). The sign on the top of the signpost indicates where the signpost is right now – boredom.
The people standing beneath the sign decide to stay where they are.

They’d rather be bored than risk experiencing something more negative.
Notice that the signpost has no positive directions on it. This doesn’t mean that there are none – but that to the people beneath the sign see it that way.
A cartoon about motivation, outlook, pessimist, pessimists, optimism (or the lack of it), mindsets, melancholia, negativity, inertia, the human condition.
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Egypt crisis cartoon – burning pyramid

Egypt - pyramid burning

The crisis in Egypt depicted as a pyramid on fire

An image showing one of the pyramids of Egypt in flames, as a symbol of the unrest and turmoil caused by the current conflict between the Egyptian army and the Muslim Brotherhood (in August 2013). The cartoon was drawn in June 2012 in anticipation of future conflict.

A burning pyramid as a metaphor for civil and religious unrest in Egypt.
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Altruism cartoon

altruism cartoon

Altruism cartoon

An illustration depicting altruistic behavior

The cartoon shows a person spanning a chasm or abyss, acting as a bridge with other people walking across.
The benefits of altruism are sometimes debated in evolutionary terms, sometimes arguing that altruism evolved because the good of the group is more important than the good of the individual. Altruism may also be seen as a form of display, where the altruistic individual is displaying his or her positive qualities to others, thus improving social status.
The illustration could also be interpreted as depicting exploitation, depending on context
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Rainbow coming out of an anglepoise table lamp

rainbow coming out of anglepoise light

Rainbow flowing out of an anglepoise light

An illustration of a rainbow radiating from a table lamp and splashing into droplets where it hits the surface of the table

The design shows the colours of the spectrum coming out of a lamp

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Illustration – people using mobile devices oblivious to their surroundings

spring blossom ignored by phone users - cartoon

An illustration about the tunnel vision of cell phone users
People using mobile devices being oblivious to what’s around them

A cartoon showing people using mobile phones or other portable electronic devices, totally ignoring the world around them

The cartoon shows a spring blossom tree in full bloom, with people staring at their phones instead of at the tree.

This is a variation on the idea that mobile phone users bump into people and objects because they aren’t watching where they are going, as they are too engrossed in their phones

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Yes or No? Being pulled in opposite directions – illustration

Yes and No pulling in opposite directions

Yes or No – which will win in a tug-of-war?

A cartoon illustrating the idea of being pulled in two directions at once, or of indecision.

A conceptual illustration that might be about voting, a yes and no vote in an election, indecisive behaviour, being pulled in several directions, opposites pulling in opposite directions, weighing up an argument, forming opinions, decisiveness
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Optical illusion – the Adelson checkerboard shadow illusion

Optical illusion - the Adelson checker shadow illusion

The Adelson checkerboard shadow optical illusion.
Which mouse is standing on the darker square – answer, neither!

The checker shadow illusion is associated with the work of Edward H. Adelson

This is how the illusion works.
An object (the elephant) on a checkerboard casts a shadow on the board.
The parts of the board in the shadow are darker than the parts of the board that aren’t.
The human brain knows that the squares on the board are all same – either white or dark gray, so it compensates for the darkening effect of the shadow, making the white squares that are in the shadow seem lighter than they really are (which can be as dark as the dark gray squares, as here).
The second image shows the mice holding a uniformly gray strip across the checkerboard to allow the tones of the squares to be compared
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Optical illusion – the Adelson checker shadow illusion

Optical illusion - the checkerboard shadow illusion

Checkerboard shadow optical illusion.
In the top photograph, which square is darker – 1 or 2?
Answer: neither, they are the same. This is shown in the second figure, where a uniform gray strip crosses the image to show comparisons in tone between different squares.
This image is a photograph – the illusion works with the real objects, an apple on a checkerboard, and is not affected or caused by the fact that this is a two dimensional image

The checker shadow illusion is associated with the work of Edward H. Adelson

This is how the illusion works.
An object on a checkerboard casts a shadow on the board.
The parts of the board in the shadow are darker than the parts of the board that aren’t.
The human brain knows that the squares on the board are all same – either white or dark gray, so it compensates for the darkening effect of the shadow, making the white squares that are in the shadow seem lighter than they really are (which, if you get the light levels right, can be as dark as the dark gray squares).
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Optical illusion due to direction of light – are these shapes indented or sticking out?

Optical illusion due to light direction - are these shapes indented or sticking out?

Optical illusions
How we interprete form in two dimensional images
An illusion due to direction of light
How light direction affects how we read shapes and form

Are these shapes indented or sticking out?

This is a photograph of the word ‘post’ on the side of a British post box (the red pillar box).
Viewed upside down the word looks as though it is indented. The right way up it appears to stand out (which it does).
Why is this?
It’s because in normal everyday circumstances light tends to come from above (such as from the sun in the sky), so that’s where we assume light is coming from unless there is obvious evidence to the contrary. In the upside down version the light is interpreted to come from above, so the shadows and highlights are interpreted in this light
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Horsemeat cartoon

horsemeat cartoon - beefburgers may contain traces of horse

Horsemeat cartoon

A cartoon about the horse meat scandal, where horse meat was substituted for beef in ready meals and beefburgers

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Sundial cartoon. A sundial is a solar powered clock

sundial cartoon

Sundial cartoon. A sundial is a solar powered clock

In the cartoon a person is looking at a sundial and is saying “It’s incredible that all those years ago they’d developed solar-powered clocks.”
The cartoon illustrated how in the modern world we assume everything has to be powered by a relatively modern form of power, such as electricity in the form of batteries or mains electricity. In the past everything was powered by “sustainable” or “natural” resources, such as solar power, the wind or water.

A cartoon about the history of clocks, horology
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Car rear window sticker cartoon: “If you can read this you’re too close”

car rear window sticker cartoon

Car rear window sticker cartoon of the “Keep your distance” type

Based on the window sticker “If you can read this you’re too close”, this one reads “If you can read this you’re too close – if you can’t read this you need an eye test.”

An illustration dealing with the subject of the safe distance between cars, driving safety, rules of the road, transport, road safety.
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The standard railway gauge is based on the width of horses – cartoon

railway gauge size horse cartoon

The standard railway gauge is based on the width of horses – cartoon

The distance between the tracks of a railway – the gauge – was based on the width between the wheels of horse drawn carriages. The width of horse drawn carriages was determined by the width of horses (or rather of two horses side by side).

The illustration shows pioneer railway engineers in the Isambard Kingdom Brunel mould measuring the width of a horse in order to determine the measurement for the railway gauge.
A cartoon about transport infrastructure, the history of railways, the industrial revolution
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Queue at patent office cartoon

patent queue cartoon

Queue at patent office cartoon

A cartoon showing a queue of people outside a patent office, each holding an invention that needs patenting.
One of the people in the queue is saying “[I’ve got] an invention that’ll make queueing a thing of the past.”
Invention that help to get rid of queues include the internet and the telephone.

The cartoon is about inventors and inventions, patenting and copyright, intellectual rights, technological progress.
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League tables cartoon

league table cartoon

League tables cartoon
A government department creating a league table of league tables

A cartoon about society’s obsession with league tables.

League tables exist in education, with school league tables, hospitals and more
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The law of unintended consequences – cartoon

unintended consequences cartoon

A cartoon about the law of unintended consequences

The image shows an inventor worrying about the possible consequences once his invention is unleashed on the world. His invention is the paperclip.

An illustration about the dilemma faced by inventors or scientists who are developing new technologies – what use will people put them to?
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Horse meat scandal cartoon

horse meat scandal cartoon

Horse meat cartoon
Cartoon about horse meat found in beef products, ready meals and convenience foods

A cartoon about the scandal of horse meat being found in ready meals and beef products. Some convenience meals have been found to contain 100% horse meat

An inquiry is to be set up to investigate the horse meat scandal.
There is suspicion that organised crime or criminal activity is involved,
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Horsemeat cartoon

horse meat scandal cartoon

Horse meat cartoon

A cartoon about the scandal of horsemeat being found in convenience meals and beef products such as beef burgers and lasagne.

An inquiry is to be set up to investigate the horse meat scandal.
There is suspicion that organised crime or criminal activity is involved,
A cartoon about food safety, adulterated food products,
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Horse meat cartoon. Horsemeat found in beef products

Horse meat used in beef products - horsemeat cartoon

Horse meat cartoon
Horse meat in beef products cartoon

A cartoon about the scandal of horse meat being found in beef products such as beef burgers and lasagne.
The product Findus beef lasagne was found to contain 100% horse meat – in other words, no beef.

A cartoon about food standards, food safety, adulterated food products
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Quotation: the person who is certain he is right is certain to be wrong

The person who is certain he is right is certain to be wrong

Quotation: the person who is certain he is right is certain to be wrong

Famous quotations

A typographical design that could be used as a poster, postcard, t-shirt design or mug design.
This quote was made by me. I think it’s original, although it sounds a bit like the famous quotes that you can read in lists of famous quotes, so maybe I read it somewhere.
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Typography – reflective thinking

Typography - reflective thinking

Typography – reflective thinking

Typographic design using reflected lettering to convey the meaning of the words

Reflected words. These could be a book title, a magazine or newspaper headline or the typography in an advertisement
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Cartoon about Utopia

utopia by-laws - cartoon

Welcome to Utopia – cartoon
You are now entering Utopia – please abide by these by-laws

A cartoon illustrating the idea that utopian societies can only exist if they are repressive or prescriptive to some degree (probably a necessary degree to be honest).

The list of by-laws that have to be enforced in Utopia show that it’s maybe impossible for people to act unselfishly without a degree of coercion. A cartoon about politics, philosophy,
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Music cartoon. LP sleeve – Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon

MP3 files don't have LP sleeves

Music cartoon. MP3 files don’t have LP sleeves.

An older man shows a young man or teenager something that young people miss out on due to digital downloading of music – LP sleeves.

A comic imge about the music industry, music business, marketing, record covers, LP sleeves, vinyl records, 12 inch records, album artwork, dark side of the moon, pink floyd.

sle80811

Cartoon – skiing uphill

skiing uphill - cartoon

Skiing cartoon
Skiing uphill cartoon

A cartoon showing skiers skiing in opposite directions – one is skiing downhill while the other is skiing uphill.
The image is on its side, so when viewed initially the viewer is confused by conflicting visual cues, mistaking the direction of the slope (look at the trees).

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Sat-nav error cartoon. Guided to the wrong destination

sat-nav error to M31 - cartoon

Sat-nav cartoon – a car guided by sat-nav taken to the wrong destination

The sat nav (GPS) has guided to car to the wrong M31 (the Andromeda galaxy instead of the M31 motorway).

The M31 motorway doesn’t actually exist by the way – it was planned but never completed.
The cartoon is about the way that car drivers will blindly and slavishly follow the instructions of their sat-navs even when they are completely wrong, sometimes going to the wrong destination of the same name
It says something about the way that the human race can follow the wrong path without realising the potential consequences
This is an astronomy cartoon

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Mayan prophecy cartoon

mayan prophecy replacement - cartoon

Mayan calendar cartoon
Mayan 2012 prophecy wrong – what next?
The world didn’t come to an end on 21st December 2012 – what news story will take its place?

A cartoon about the Mayan ‘prophecy’ of the end of the world at the winter solstice 2012.
The prophecy didn’t come true, so the huge news hype that surrounded the story will have to end. The drawing shows a press newsroom where editors and reporters are cynically on the lookout for a similar tabloid doomsday story to replace the Mayan prophesy story in the news cycle
The cartoon is about people’s seeming need for end of the world stories. It is about millenarian stories and millenarianism. Millenarianism is the phenomenon of wishing for or expecting a huge upheaval that will either end the world or will change it radically.

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Mayan calendar cartoon. The 2012 Mayan end of the world prophecy cartoon

Mayan end of the world prophecy - cartoon

2012 Mayan calendar cartoon
The world didn’t come to an end on 21st December 2012 after all

A cartoon about the Mayan ‘prophecy’ of the end of the world at the winter solstice 2012

The cartoon shows a Mayan gift shop selling a Mayan calendar for 2013, which has been put on display immediately after the world didn’t come to an end on 21st December 2012 (winter solstice).
Part of the joke is that the Mayan calendar was not put on display until after the prediction of the end of the world had passed – because the owners of the Mayan gift shop were busy making money out of the Mayan prophecy of the end of the world until then.
A cartoon about millenarian cults, millenarianism, end of the world cults

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Charity mugger cartoon

charity mugger or chugger cartoon

Charity collection methods cartoon, showing a ‘charity mugger’ or ‘chugger’

A charity mugger or chugger trying to peruade a passer-by to stop. Rather than saying “Not now” (as is usual) the passer-by is wearing a t-shirt with the message “Not now” printed on it

A cartoon about charity fund raising techniques

chug001b

Architecture cartoon – high rise office block architecture

architecture skyscraper  cartoon

Architecture cartoon
Skyscraper cartoon

High rise office blocks architecture, with the architects having trouble designing the buildings’ tops.

The buildings are modern bland, glass and steel designs apart from the tops

A cartoon of an architect’s office with models of high-rise buildings on a table, each high-rise building having an unusually shaped top.
The cartoon illustrates the way that modern architecture often relies on gimmicky shapes to give the buildings an identity (such as the ‘Gherkin’, the Shard, the “Pinnacle”, the “Cheesegrater”), so that cityscapes look more and more bizzare.

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Life as a game of chess – cartoon

chess piece as hats - cartoon

Life as a game of chess – cartoon

Showing a chess board on which people are standing, with chess pieces on their heads like hats

A slightly surreal cartoon about chess. The concept is that life is a game of chess, and we are all players

It’s also about life strategies, competitiveness, power struggles, inter-human dynamics, interpersonal politics, sociology, game theory.

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Chess cartoons

Chess cartoon - hole in chess board

Chess cartoon – hole in chess board

A cartoon showing a chess board on which one of the squares is a hole.
A chess piece (a bishop) os looking out of the hole from the top of a ladder

A slightly surreal drawing about chess, where a hole in the chessboard looks a bit like a trapdoor
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