Where do artists get their ideas from?

Where do artists get their ideas from?

Contemporary art concepts cartoon.

A cartoon about a website from which contemporary artists can download concepts for their artworks.
The artwork in the cartoon is a piece of performance art, in which the artist covers himself or herself with ticks which then suck the artists blood – as a metaphor for the exploitative workings of capitalism.

Cartoon drawn: 2019
Cartoon reference number: art108

See my book of cartoons about art here.

Personality profiling for job applicants – cartoon from Chemistry World

chemistry cartoon - rorschach test

A cartoon about the use of personality profiling in job interviews.

The use of Rorscharch tests for assessing people’s personalities.

The interviewee is interpreting an X-ray crystallography image that resembles a spider
An example from my cartoon strip published in Chemistry World, the magazine of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Here are more of my chemistry cartoons from Chemistry World magazine.

A cartoon about espionage, spying, subversion, secret police, state repression.

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Praying mantis transgender cartoon

transgender praying mantis

Transgender cartoon – a praying mantis seeking a sex change operation

In the world of the paying mantis, the female mantis eats the male mantis following mating.
The theory is that this means that the female gets a good protein meal that will help the development of the resulting next generation. It all seems unnecessarily excessive to me though.

In the cartoon a male praying mantis is seeking gender realignment surgery or sex change surgery so that he becomes a female and thus avoids death at the hands of his/her mate.
The cartoon is inspired by the high profile of transgender and sexual realignment issues in the current personal identity and lifestyle culture.
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Superorganisms – a colony of ants forming one giant ant

Ants as a superorganism graphic illustration

Ants in a colony forming one large ant - super organism graphic illustration

A magnified detail of the image above

Graphic or illustration of a superorganism – a colony of individual ants forming one giant ant

Ants are probably the best-known example of superorganisms

A superorganism is an organised colony consisting of many organisms, usually where individual organisms perform specialised functions and where individuals are incapable of survival by themselves.
The illustration could be used as a metaphor for human behaviour or of co-operation or as a literal illustration of the expression “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts”.
Drawn: 1990
Cartoon reference: a630

A butterfly with talons – illustration

butterfly with talons - illustration

A butterfly with hawk talons

An illustration of a butterfly that has talons, turning it into a predator

A surreal digital image of a hybrid butterfly/hawk.
Some of the tension in the image comes from the fact that butterflies are perceived as being benign (which they are, being primarily nectar feeders), while birds of prey are perceived as being powerful and aggressive.
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Professor Brian Cox cartoon – we are stardust

professor brian cox cartoon we are stardust

Professor Brian Cox cartoon
We are made of stardust

A humorous comment about the fact that all of the elements apart from hydrogen and helium were created inside stars – so everything is made of stardust

The joke here is that when the tv astronomer Professor Brian Cox says that everything is made of stardust he really lays it on thick in a way that many people, especially women, find very attractive. So here the woman is actually saying that she finds Brian Cox attractive, and it even affects her attitude to slugs

See my book on the nature of the universe
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Cartoon – creatures from earth that look like aliens

earth creatures that look like aliens

From my selection of science fiction cartoons
Creatures from earth that look like aliens from another planet

A cartoon showing that life on earth is as weird as extraterrestrial life

This cartoon was drawn many years ago, but is relevant today due to the BBC series Alien Nation, about the bizarre and otherworldly appearance of insects. Fish look pretty weird too don’t you think?

Cartoon reference number: a560

Butterfly friendly insecticide cartoon

butterfly friendly pesticide cartoon

A cartoon about selective pesticide – butterfly and ladybird friendly insecticide

A joke about insecticide that kills only ugly insects

The cartoon has deeper meanings about how we judge things by appearance, by prejudice or by attractiveness.
It’s also about gardening and the aesthetic values that are deployed in the garden (such as in the selection of plants and flowers, not just in the selection of pests). However it’s also about the wider phenomenon of judging everything, including people, by appearance

Cartoon reference number: a472

See my book of gardening cartoons here.

Insecticide cartoon. Polluting the planet with pesticides

 insecticide cartoon

Insecticide cartoon
Polluting the planet with pesticides

A cartoon showing an insect being sprayed with insecticide.
The insect is a beetle with the pattern on its shell being a map of the earth

The cartoon illustrates the concept of the global impact of the use of toxic chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and insecticides.
It reflects the ideas in such books as Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
An earlier version of this cartoon appeared in my book of environmental cartoons, When Humans Roamed the Earth, published by Earthscan/WWF in 1991

Cartoon reference number: a460

Big game hunters cartoon – hunting endangered species

 big game hunters hunting butterfly cartoon

Endangered species cartoon

Cartoon of big game hunters shooting a butterfly because other species of animal are going extinct due to human pressure and lack of conservation measures

A humorous illustration about endangered species, conservation, species extinction, extinct species
An previous version of this cartoon was published in my environmental cartoon book, When Humans Roamed the Earth, published by WWF/Earthscan

Cartoon reference number: a451

Person wearing a snail shell as a hat

snail shell hat illustration

Illustration of a person wearing a snail shell as a hat

This picture doesn’t mean anything specific. I just made it up. Having said that, it obviously has hidden unconscious meaning.
This hat may be a fashion item or a helmet.
It may imply that the wearer is a slow thinker, with a snail brain. Slow thinking isn’t necessarily a bad thing by the way – it might mean considered thinking rather than rash impulsive thinking. Maybe you were being rash to jump to the conclusion that slow thinking might be bad!
An illustration about thinking, unusual headgear, molluscs.

Cartoon reference number: a361

Snail on fire – environmental illustration

snail on fire

An illustration of a snail with its shell on fire

Burning snail image

This is a disturbing image, without any specific meaning in mind, but nevertheless very evocative.
It could be an environmental illustration symboliseing the destruction of the ecosysten or the environment.
The fact that a snail is a slow creature could symbolise the way that nature cannot run away from the destruction of the environment that is occurring.
The image is a digital painting, based quite closely on photos of snails so that it looks realistic (which is important for the impact of the image).
The image could be used in environmental campaigns or media articles and reports about the environment.

Cartoon reference number: a342

Insect cartoons – house fly cartoon

fly in armchair reading book - cartoon

Insect cartoons – house fly cartoon

Cartoon of a house fly reading a book (or a magazine)
The book is a pulp fiction horror book

An anthropomorphic cartoon of a housefly sitting in an armchair, reading

Part of the humour in this cartoon is that the housefly is sitting in such a ‘homely’ setting, and is obviously not an unpleasant creature at all.
Notice the pattern on the chair cover – composed of insects (where the human equivalent would show flowers), and the piece of cake, which is going nicely mouldy.
This cartoon is in a similar vein to a Gary Larson cartoon from his Far Side cartoon feature. However, the similarity is coincidental, as I’ve been producing cartoons like this since before Gary Larson became established. It’s a sort of zeitgeist thing, where different people working in the same field produce similar work at the same time, because it’s in the air.

A slightly different version of this cartoon first appeared as a greetings card published by Paperlink

Cartoon reference number: a338

Gardening cartoon – insect repellant

gardening humour insect-repellant

Gardening humour – how to repel midges

How to repel midges when outdoors

Midges are a pest in the garden and outdoors. They may be small but they go around in swarms and their bites can drive a person to the point of distraction. However, a slight breeze is all it takes to get rid of them.
This cartoon shows a method of producing such a breeze.
Cartoon reference number: a665

See my book of gardening cartoons here.

Creepy crawlies on garden flowers cartoon

bugs on flowers cartoon

Garden insects cartoon

Cartoon about garden insects on flowers.

A gardener looking closely at a flower and noticing the tiny insects that are living on it that had been unnoticed until he examined the bloom closely.
The gardener is saying ” It’s wonderful how every spring I’m newly surprised by the incredible shapes and colours of the flowers in the garden – and of the insects that are hiding between their petals.”
A cartoon about garden wildlife, secret life in the garden, invertebrates, nature, natural gardening, organic gardening, eco-friendly gardening.
Cartoon reference number: a288

See my book of gardening cartoons here.
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Vegetable gardening cartoon – cabbage white butterfly cartoon

cabbage white butterfly cartoon

Vegetable gardening cartoon – a cabbage white butterfly in the veg patch

Cartoon showing a girl seeing a cabbage white butterfly in her parents’ vegetable garden

She is saying “Daddy – a lovely white butterfly has just landed on your cabbages!”

A cartoon about the innocence of childhood, garden pests, gardeners’ banes.

Cartoon reference number: a250

See my book of gardening cartoons here.

Gardening cartoons – butterflies are like flying flowers

butterflies are like flying flowers - cartoon

Gardening cartoons – butterflies are like flying flowers

Cartoon showing butterflies in a garden

The gardener is saying “I like to think of butterflies as aerial flower displays”

A cartoon about attracting insects to the garden, butterfly gardening, garden design.

Cartoon reference number: a249

See my book of gardening cartoons here.
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Insect pests in gardens – cartoon

ants garden pests cartoon

Garden pests cartoons. Ants in the garden

Cartoon about garden insect pests – ants eating food on a garden table

Cartoon showing a man relaxing at a garden table, but with a column of ants eating his cake on the table. The man is reading a manual titled “How to get rid of ants”.

A cartoon about insect pests in gardens, ants attracted to sweet food in a garden.

Cartoon reference number: a239

See my book of gardening cartoons here.
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Garden pests cartoon

a bugs guide to garden pests cartoon

Gardening cartoon. A bug’s guide to garden pests

A comic illustration showing a caterpillar or grub (a garden pest) looking at a gardening book or manual about garden pests. The pest shown in the book is a gardener with a canister of pesticide.
The cartoon is in the anthropomorphic tradition common in cartoons.

Cartoon reference number: a196

See my book of gardening cartoons here.

Signs of spring in the garden cartoon – the first slug of spring

the first slug of spring -cartoon

Garden cartoon. Signs of spring in the garden – the first slug of spring

Humorous illustration showing the first butterflies of spring and the first slugs of spring.

In the early months of the year gardeners are eagerly on the lookout for the first signs of spring.
They are pleased to see the first green shoots of spring, the first butterflies and the first swallows of summer. However the changing seasons also bring less welcome visitors such as, as shown in this cartoon, slugs and snails.

Draw: March 2009

Cartoon reference number: a185

See my book of gardening cartoons here.

A joke about slugs

Slug bones cartoon

A cartoon about slugs

A humorous illustration about how children learn about the world around them

Children in a garden discovering that slugs don’t have bones.
This is a slightly macabre and unsettling cartoon illustrating the way that kids come across information and facts about the world through play, outdoor activities and general curiosity. Some of these activities are in decline now due to the amount of time children spend in front of their computers.

Drawn: May 2004

Cartoon reference number: a183

See my book of gardening cartoons here.

Baby insect cartoon. Are maggots cute?

Insect cartoon. An adult insect admiring a baby insect, saying how cute it is. It's a maggot

Insect cartoon
Maggot cartoon

Creepy crawly cartoon.
An adult insect admiring a baby insect, saying how cute and adorable it is. The baby insect is a maggot.
This cartoon is about the way that what we find attractive (or repulsive) is governed by factors of psychology and perception that are dependant on factors within the framework of our existence – such as whether we’re humans or insects. Evolution plays a big part.
Aesthetic judgement is not an independent quality.
Adults are hardwired to find babies attractive, cute and appealing.

A cartoon about aesthetics, beauty, prejudice, larva, larvae, grubs, maggots, aesthetic taste, bias, revulsion, repulsion, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, aesthetic relativism, entymology, evolution.
Cartoon reference number: mag710