The danger of the expression “You can be whoever you want to be”.
The cartoon shows Donald Trump in his school days listening to the expression. Maybe getting a few ideas.
In the USA the aspirational expression that anyone can become president of the United States has proved to be true, unfortunately.
Drawn: August 2020
Cartoon reference number: a840
Code switching cartoon.
A cartoon about the concept of code switching.
The current usage of the term code switching refers to the action of people changing their behaviour when they are in different cultural settings, usually in order to blend in. In this sense it is most often used with reference to ethnic minority people who are interacting in predominantly white social groups.
The cartoon illustrates a relatively less well remarked upon example of code switching, which is when white working class people need to blend in with white people from higher social classes, here exemplified by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In education the working classes tend to have lower attainment levels than other classes as a result of social discrimination.
Drawn: August 2020
Cartoon reference number: a836
A flaw in the aspirational concept of “You can be whoever you want to be”.
The cartoon illustrates a problem with the currently popular encouragement to schoolchildren that when they grow up they can be whoever they want to be.
The aspirational, motivational expression makes the assumption that everyone will strive for a worthy goal. I don’t think this is necessarily the case.
In fact the concept gives people license to aim towards whatever they desire, which wouldn’t be a good thing.
Drawn: August 2020
Cartoon reference number: a835
Artistic validity within the zeitgeist
The cartoon shows an art college student creating an artwork.
The tutor is criticising the work because the student is artistically independent minded and the art she is creating doesn’t adhere to the artistic principles that he or the college believe in.
He is saying “You can’t just go off on some crazy idea of your own.”
It is a cartoon about the fact that the wrong art education can stifle a person’s artistic vision rather than expand and encourage it. It is about the role of art educators.
You may notice that the art that the student is creating is in a style that is currently seen in contemporary art galleries. This means that either the cartoon is set in the past before this type of art was adopted (and thus the student was very much justified in going off in her own direction) or the art college is a bit more conservative than it thinks it is.
Cartoon drawn: 2019
Cartoon reference number: art096
This cartoon features in my book of cartoons about art.
See the book here.
Culture wars cartoon – race and science in universities.
Culture wars are raging in universities and academic institutions across the western world. They are raging elsewhere too, but the culture wars in, say, the Islamic world, are different to the ones in the west.
The west’s culture wars often circle around subjects such as race and gender and identity politics that exist within the ‘woke’ analysis of culture.
At the time of drawing this cartoon the subject of race is very much to the fore, with movements such as BLM (Black Lives Matter) having a very high profile.
In academia many subjects in the social sciences are currently analysed through the perspective of critical race theory (CRT).
This cartoon illustrates a tendency to apply critical race theory to subjects where it has no relevance or where its relevance is overstated.
Drawn: September 2020
Cartoon reference number: a849
The outcome of multiple life conditions on opportunity and outcome – intersectionality cartoon
This illustration was drawn for Marxism Today magazine in the mid 1980s.
It features a machine into which babies enter at the top and adults leave at the bottom.
The machine represents the workings of society, with tubes and pipes representing functions such as education, class, race, gender etc.
The adults leaving the machine have all been filtered through the various parts of the machine to produce different types of people. The types of people are produced to suit the conditions and needs of society.
The illustration could be interpreted as being about what is now called intersectionality (although it was drawn in about 1984 or 1985, before the term intersectionality was coined in 1989 by professor Kimberlé Crenshaw).
Drawn: mid 1980s
Cartoon reference number: a845
A person finding that inspiration comes most easily by relaxing and not thinking too hard.
A person relaxing and musing “I have my best ideas when I’m not thinking.”
A cartoon about cognition, thought processes, the nature of creativity, inspiration, ideas, the creative process.
Cartoon reference number: a759
A cartoon about hypercritical student attitudes demanding the removal (deaccessioning) of artworks from galleries.
A cartoon about woke culture and the trend for students’ grievances and dissatisfactions to be translated into action, such as in the form no platforming or the demands for statues of out-of-favour people to be removed.
The action is often seen by some as self-righteous, self-indulgent, censorious and intolerant (ironically, as the students often think that they are acting for the greater benefit of others).
The cartoon shows the danger of the students adopting a feeling of over-entitlement and thus taking their attitudes out into the wider world beyond their colleges.
The inspiration for this image was a news story about students disapproving of a sculpture by Henry Moore, and demanding that it wasn’t displayed on their university campus.
The cartoon was drawn in 2016, but it seems even more relevant in 2020 with the woke culture on the ascendency. There are lots of statue removing campaigns going on at the moment (August, 2020) and there’s a bit of a campaign to have a mural by Rex Whistler in Tate Britain removed because a detail of it depicts a black person in chains.
In 2018 a painting, Hylas and the Nymphs by J W Waterhouse, was removed temporarily from Manchester Art Gallery as part of an art event by Sonia Boyce as a comment on what some people view as inappropriate art for the modern age.
Cartoon reference: a734
“No platforming” – the movement to deny a debating voice to speakers who’s views may be offensive to some of the audience.
This cartoon is about the phenomenon of denying a platform in debates for speakers who’s views may be found offensive by some of the audience.
The phenomenon is particularly prevalent in universities.
“No platforming” can be seen as a form of censorship masquerading as a virtue. It is built on the premise that people have the right not to be offended.
This may be a worthy aim, but it’s very much open to abuse, as the ‘right not to be offended’ can easily become a means of stifling debate.
Apart from anything else, the airing of controversial views are crucial to the health of democracy.
Cartoon drawn: 2015
Cartoon reference: a705
Facts of life cartoon: babies grow like 3D printing
This cartoon, of a pregnant mother explaining the facts of life to her young child, illustrates the use of metaphors for contemporary technological processes. The idea is that young children are more likely to understand modern metaphors than older ones.
A cartoon about the facts of life, where babies come from, the birds and the bees, 3D printing technology.
A cartoon showing a person putting on a ‘thinking cap’.
The thinking cap resembles a brain.
An image about thought processes, thinking, the nature of consciousness, cognition, studying, problem solving – illustrating the saying “Put on your thinking cap”
Original version drawn: 2011
Cartoon reference number: a609
Bizarre cartoon featuring a padlock as a person’s head or an imaginary creature’s head
An illustration about unlocking creativity
A bizarre or surrealist image showing a person or imaginary creature with a head in the form of a padlock.
The person is holding a key and is saying “Unlock your imagination!”.
The illustration is about freeing the imagination or liberating the mind to be creative. It is an image to convey the link between creativity and thought processes
The cartoon has uses as an illustration in art education or in areas of philosophy or psychology.
For a less bizarre, more child-friendly version of the same concept click here
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
Cartoon reference number: a532
Cartoon – knowledge from holy books
The difference between religious books and scientific and factual books
A cartoon showing a child reading from a pile of books – and another child reading from only one holy or religious book
This cartoon illustrated the way that some religious groups think that all necessary knowledge can be found in their holy book.
It illustrates the sort of argument put forward by people such as Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion or Christopher Hitchens in God is not Great
Cartoon reference number: a498
Students hugging when they get their exam results
A cartoon about the recent trend in television news coverage of exam results for students to be filmed hugging each other when they get their grades.
The caption of this cartoon reads:
“I see that on your application form you’ve put down that your main reason for wanting to join our A level course is ‘To get hugs from teenage girls when the results come out’.”
The cartoon shows a man of dubious character applying to join a college of further education A-level course so that he can get hugs from attractive young female students when the exam results come out.
Questioning authority – cartoon.
A student questioning the authority of a lecturer
Cartoon showing a lecture on politics authority
A joke about authority, questioning, totalitarianism, anarchy, anarchism, authority figures
The joke is that the student is questioning the authority of a lecturer who is telling the audience to question authority.
This illustration first appeared in BBC Knowledge magazine.
Cartoon reference number: a332
Science cartoon or illustration to promote the understanding of science
An illustration showing a child studying science – in this case astronomy by looking through a telescope
The cartoon or illustration is intended as a logo or design to promote science education.
Cartoon reference number: a666
Cartoon about children’s art and children’s artistic development
Cartoon showing small children in a nursery class practicing drawing and painting (or colouring-in).
The teacher is helping the children to learn how to draw and paint.
The teacher is saying to a child:
“That’s a lovely drawing, Sophie. Now let’s do another one with Mummy’s head like a great big balloon.”
The cartoon is about child development and children’s artistic development. It is also about adults’ expectations of what children should achieve and about educational methods and standards.
The child in the cartoon is obviously very talented, drawing a very sophisticated likeness of a person (her mother), however the teacher is being very prescriptive in her teaching methods and is encouraging the child to conform to the lower expectations of the standard that children of her age normally attain – in other words drawing a stick person with a big round head.
Cartoon reference number: a155
Existentialist philosophy cartoon: a child’s introduction to existentialism
A philosophy cartoon showing a child reading a book titled “My First Book of Existentialism”.
The philosophical theory of existentialism is usually associated with Jean Paul Sartre.
The humour in the illustration is that an elementary book at the level illustrated in the cartoon is far too basic to explain the theory underlying existentialism (or any other philosophical theory for that matter).
The cartoon also hints at the possibility that some philosophical concepts are more basic than is sometimes thought – and that some philosophies are probably flawed due to fundamental errors due to the limitations of the human brain to grasp concepts.
A cartoon about philosophy, existentialism, existentialist philosophy, philosophical theory.
Cartoon reference number: a131
See my book about life, the universe and everything.
Cartoon showing an ambitious mother reading a book about how to raise the perfect child
Child development cartoon. An ambitious mother reading a book on child rearing called ‘How to Bring up the Perfect Child‘. The mother is saying to her child ‘Not now dear, I’m busy.’
A cartoon about child rearing, parenting skills, hothousing, developmental psychology, education, educational psychology, yummy mummy, yummy mummies, misdirected ambition, bad parenting.
Cartoon reference number: a085
Cartoon showing an eager child reading a book titled ‘The Bumper Book of Wonder’. Near the child is a book that will be read in the future, called ‘My First Book of Disillusionment’
Child development cartoon showing an eager child reading a book titled ‘The Bumper Book of Wonder’. Near the child is a book he will read in the future, called ‘My First Book of Disillusionment’
A cartoon about growing up and loss of innocence, acquisition of knowledge, epistomology, epistemology.
Cartoon reference number: a084
A cartoon about mistakes in punctuation use. The so-called “grocer’s apostrophe” being use in a press article (as proof of the perceived degeneration of grammar in contemporary society)
The cartoon deals with a topic that is discussed in the book “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” by Lynne Truss.
A cartoon about linguistics, language, misuse of grammar, grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes.
Cartoon reference number: a061
Learning curve illustration
A bookshelf representing a learning curve. The learning curve/shelf is curving downwards due to falling educational standards. The books on the curve are falling off the end due to the downward curve.
The illustration is dealing with lowering standards in schools, colleges and universities, library closures, dumbing down, knowledge acquisition.
Cartoon reference number: edu001
Cartoon featuring a person with a padlock as a head, jumping in the air and saying “Unlock your imagination!”
An illustration about creativity
An image for use in art education, classes or presentations on creativity
The illustration is about freeing the imagination or liberating the mind to be creative, or on unleashing creativity. It is an image to convey the link between creativity and thought processes.
The cartoon has uses as an illustration in art education or in areas of philosophy or psychology
Click here for a more bizarre and surreal version of the same idea