You can be whoever you want to be – cartoon

You can be whoever you want to be – cartoon

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

Conspiracy theory cartoon

conspiracy theory cartoon

Conspiracy theory cartoon.

The cartoon shows a person holding a placard stating “Truth lies in following the evidence”.
Another person holds the same placard with the lower part ripped off, so that the part that he holds reads “Truth lies”.

\A cartoon about conspiracy theories truth, facts, fake news.
Drawn: August 2020
Cartoon reference number: a831

The blame game – cartoon

I blame you cartoon

The blame game – cartoon.

A cartoon showing a protester with a banner proclaiming “I blame you”.

The cartoon is about people who need to place the blame for things on other people rather than on circumstances. This includes blaming people for their attitudes rather than analysing the circumstances that make people hold those attitudes.
A cartoon about protestors, political demonstrations, guilt.
Drawn: August 2020
Cartoon reference number: a830b

Conspiracy theory cartoon

Conspiracy theory cartoon - road sign

Conspiracy theory cartoon – sign of the times.

A road sign with multiple roads leading to conspiracy theories.
One road leads to truth, but the road is closed.

The cartoon is about the current proliferation of (and acceptance of) conspiracy theories, as we now seem to live in a post-truth fake news world.
The climate of conspiracy theories is a sign of the times, hence the sign and the title of the cartoon, Sign of the Times.

Cartoon drawn: 30th July 2020

Cartoon reference number: a826
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Cancel culture cartoon

Woke cancel culture cartoon

A cartoon about cancel culture and historical thought crimes.

This cartoon is about the current (2020) phenomenon of cancel culture. This is the concept by which a person is ostracized or shunned if they are judged to hold unapproved views or have attitudes that run counter to those of the arbiters of what are acceptable views. It is a subsection of woke culture.

Cancel culture is responsible for such phenomena as no platforming, where people with proscribed views are denied the ability to put their views forward for debate, particularly in universities.
It is often applied to people based on attitudes that they held in the past. By this criterium practically everyone on the planet should be cancelled, which is one of the points of this cartoon. The saying “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” comes to mind.
Cancel culture is often applied to historical figures from several centuries ago, particularly (at the moment) to those involved in some way in the transatlantic slave trade, and is manifested in the current campaigns to remove statues.
Cancel culture can be viewed as having a stifling effect on culture and debate, with its, to me, zealously censorious woke attitudes and its Orwellian implications.

Drawn: 7th July 2020

Cartoon reference: a815
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Cartoon about the fallacy of progress

transport cartoon - traffic gridlock

Environment cartoon about transport systems
Philosophy cartoon about the fallacy of progress

A cartoon about progress, in which the progress (represented here by road transport) creates its own problems.
Is progress a good thing?

Cars at a standstill, gridlocked in a traffic jam symbolising progress (or the lack of it) in transport planning and the excessive use of cars as personal transport.
Also a cartoon about the philosophical question of whether progress is necessarily automatically a good thing.

Created: 2015.
Original version (with older vehicles) created: 1991

Cartoon reference number: env050b
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Finding meaning in art – cartoon

Finding meaning in art – cartoon

The search for meaning – cartoon.

This cartoon is superficially about finding meaning in art, but it is in fact about deeper issues of the search for meaning in life in general.
People are psychologically geared to seek meaning, purpose and agency in things, including phenomena that may lack all of these qualities. Some aspects of religion are obvious manifestations of this.
The artist in the cartoon is saying ‘My work is about the way that the human mind seeks meaning in the meaningless’.

Cartoon drawn: 2019
Cartoon reference number: art112

See my book of art cartoons here.

Cartoon – so many paintings to do before I die

Art and death cartoon

Time is the enemy of the artist (and of everyone else too).

An elderly artist working frantically to get all of his ideas down on canvas before he dies.
A cartoon about art and mortality, death and the restlessness of the creative mind.

Cartoon drawn: 2019
Cartoon reference number: art089
This cartoon features in my book of cartoons about art.
See the book here.
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Profound art and banal art – cartoon

Profound art and banal art – cartoon

Profound art and banal art – cartoon

Cartoon showing a painting of a vase of flowers (banal art) and a painting of a vase of dead flowers (profound art).

The painting of the dead flowers is judged as being profound because it alludes to death.
Original cartoon drawn: 2010
This version drawn: 2019
Cartoon reference number: art012
This cartoon features in my book of cartoons about art.
See the book here.
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Art as a bid for immortality

Art as a bid for immortality cartoon

A cartoon about creating art as a bid for immortality

The cartoon shows an artist working on a painting.
He is saying “While I’m alive I like to think of my work living on when I’m dead, but when I’m dead I probably won’t care one way or the other.”

The cartoon is about the way that people are often motivated in their lives to do things due to the awareness of their own mortality, and the paradox that once they have died they won’t care.
It is interesting to speculate on how much of human activity is motivated by this urge, and what position the human race would be in if we didn’t have the urge.

Cartoon drawn: 2019

Cartoon reference number: art014
This cartoon features in my book of cartoons about art.
See the book here.
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Describing visual art in words

Cartoon about the problem of trying to describe visual art in words

Cartoon about the problem of trying to describe visual art in words.

A cartoon about the way that words obscure as much as enlighten.

Original version drawn: 2007
This version drawn: 2019
Cartoon reference number: art006
This cartoon features in my book of cartoons about art.
See the book here.
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Art gallery exhibit – cartoon – what is your greatest wish?

Audience participation art cartoon

Cartoon about art that asks people questions.

A cartoon about audience participation art installations.

The cartoon is set inside an art gallery, showing an installation in which the participant has to write down their greatest wish.
A cartoon about art predicting the future of society and the world and about the fulfilment of people’s desires and wishes.

Drawn: 2019

Cartoon reference number: art005
This cartoon features in my book of cartoons about art.
See the book here.
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Erasing the offensive past, followed by erasing the offensive present.

Erase the attitudes of the past cartoon

A cartoon about erasing the past because of its flaws, then erasing the present because of its flaws.

This cartoon is about the current trend (2020) for some groups to want to erase evidence of the parts of the past that they find offensive. This is manifested in the pulling down of statues of people who had links to the slave trade.
The point of the cartoon is that I think that such attitudes and approaches are misguided, as they require a (selective) moral purity that is impossible in a complex world full of complex people. The wish to erase the moral imperfections of the past would lead to the wish to erase the moral imperfections of the present, and in an imperfect world full of imperfect people the consequences of that could be a form of repression not dissimilar to some of the religious and political repressions of the past. Bear in mind that people are still capable of creating repressive societies in the misguided belief that they are doing a good thing – people don’t change, just their situation.
The imagery in the cartoon is based on the Bonfire of the Vanities – the burning of objects that the church considered sinful, such as books, art and mirrors which happened in Florence, Italy in 1497. It also relates to book burning by the nazis in Germany and the destruction of degenerate or subversive objects in other states ranging from communist regimes to the Taliban.

Drawn: 3rd July 2020
Cartoon reference: a813
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Living organic material in contemporary art – cartoon

contemporary art cartoon genetic sculpture

Cartoon of sculptures created using organic material.

The concept behind this cartoon is that there is a way of incorporating living genetic material or dna into contemporary artworks so that the material manifests itself in some bizarre and unsettling way.

Cartoon drawn: 2019
Cartoon reference number: art044
This cartoon features in my book of cartoons about art.
See the book here.
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Conceptual art cartoon – invisible art

Conceptual contemporary art cartoon – invisible art

Contemporary art cartoon – conceptual art.

A contemporary art cartoon showing a conceptual sculptural artwork on a plinth where the material that the work is composed of is pure thought.

Cartoon drawn: 2019
Cartoon reference number: art055
This cartoon features in my book of cartoons about art.
See the book here.
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Judging historical figures by contemporary standards

statue toppling cartoon

A cartoon about toppling statues.

This cartoon is about the judging of historical figures by modern standards of ethics and morality.
The cartoon was drawn during a campaign of statue toppling in 2020 that started with the toppling of a statue of Edward Colston in Bristol. Colston made money in the slave trade. His statue was erected to celebrate his later philanthropic donations.
The cartoon attempts to illustrate the problem of judging historical figures by the moral and ethical standards of today by showing the absurd (and hopefully comic) situation of a statue being toppled because the person represented by the statue was not a vegan. Veganism is generally speaking a very modern lifestyle choice that would be unknown to historical figures.
It is also about the phenomenon of people sometimes committing disproportionately excessive acts if they hold their views with a high degree of righteous zeal.
It is also about mission creep – the current campaigns about statue toppling began with racism but may extend to other areas.

Drawn:11th June 2020
Cartoon reference number: a806
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The Grim Reaper pursuing old people – a cartoon about mortality

grim reaper pursuing elderly people

The grim reaper following elderly people – and getting closer all the time.

The personification of death in the form of the grim reaper pursuing an elderly couple.
The old people are slowing down due to old age and infirmity, thus allowing the grim reaper to catch up with them.
A cartoon about intimations of mortality and death.

Cartoon reference number: a088a
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The Grim Reaper with a baby Grim Reaper

grim reaper and baby grim reaper in pushchair

The grim reaper with a baby grim reaper in a pushchair

The personification of death in the form of the grim reaper pushing a pushchair or baby buggy in which sits an infant grim reaper.
Part of the concept behind the cartoon is to show a link between birth and death.
It’s also meant to be humorous because it humanises the grim reaper.

Cartoon reference number: a751

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The grim reaper upgrades from a scythe to a combine harvester

grim reaper buys a combine harvester

The grim reaper buys a combine harvester

The personification of death in the form of the grim reaper upgrades from his scythe to a combine harvester. The harvester is here a symbol of much greater ‘harvesting’ power than the scythe – in other words a means of achieving a much greater death toll, similar to a weapon of mass destruction.

Cartoon reference number: a750

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A chess board as a metaphor for conflict resolution – cartoon

Chess as a metaphor for conflict resolution

A chessboard on which the chess pieces are not only black and white but are also shades of grey.

The idea of the cartoon is that conflict occurs when things are seen in black and white or when people are polarised in outlook. With shades of gray or nuances of opinion conflict is less likely – specifically as on the chessboard in the illustration.

The cartoon is a comment on the fact that people tend to analyse things in black and white, as “either/or” or in binary.

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Reach for the stars – cartoon

cartoon - studying the stars with a telescope

A cartoon showing an astronomer reaching for the stars by reaching up inside an astronomical telescope.
The astronomer’s hand is appearing out or the top of the telescope as though it is grasping for the stars.

An illustration concerning people’s urge to discover more about the universe through scientific exploration.

A cartoon about scientific exploration, inquiring minds, curiosity, curiousity, reaching for the stats.

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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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Be true to yourself – cartoon

criticism of excessive self fulfilment - cartoon

A cartoon about the pitfalls of ‘being yourself’ and ‘being true to yourself’

The illustration shows a guru dispensing advice to ‘Be true to yourself in all things’.

The cartoon highlights the absurdity of the expression ‘To thine own self be true’, as the expression can be taken as a license for people to do whatever they want. The expression only makes sense if you assume that everyone’s nature is essentially good.
“To thine own self be true” is a quote from Shakespeare (by Polonius in Hamlet).
The image is a criticism of philosophies and lifestyles that take concepts of self fulfilment or self actualisation to an extreme, or that follow the dictum that it’s morally good to follow the impulses of your own personality without self-restraint.

Cartoon drawn: 2014

Ref: a662

Philosophy cartoon – a philosopher talking to a man with no insight

Philosophy cartoon - men talking about the meaning of life

Philosophy cartoons
Strip cartoon about the nature of philosophy

A philosopher and a layman talk about the meaning of life

The joke in this cartoon is that the layman is intrigued about the purpose of life but the philosopher has come to the conclusion that it isn’t an important question.
It’s a cartoon that questions our assumptions of what is important

Ref: a597

Atheism cartoon – an atheist at the gates of heaven

atheist at gates of heaven cartoon

Atheism cartoon

An atheist arrives at the gates of heaven (the Pearly Gates)

St Peter is pointing out to the atheist that there is a notice on the Pearly Gates declaring “No atheists”.
The atheist is thinking “I don’t believe it!”
The joke is a play on the fact that the atheist doesn’t believe in heaven rather than that he is exasperated by the fact that he isn’t allowed in.

Ref: re013

What is Philosophy?

what is philosophy?logo

Philosophy cartoon or logo

Using the expression “What is philosophy?”
A talking question mark is asking the question.
My cartoons about philosophy are published in Philosophy Now magazine.

Ref: a659

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.
Cartoon reference number: a101

Philosophy cartoon

Environmental cartoon

Philosophy cartoons

I’ve been drawing cartoons about philosophy for many years.
I tend to have one or two cartoons in each issue of Philosophy Now magazine, and occasionally I create a cartoon or illustration for its cover.

Ref: a656

Illustration: thinking without words

cartoon philosophy of language

A cartoon about cognition.
An illustration about the philosophy of language
Non-verbal thoughts

Is language necessary for thinking?

Do we have to think in words
A cartoon about linguistics, articulating concepts, abstract thought processes
Ref: a645

A quote about science: SCIENCE LIES… at the heart of our search for truth

anti-science quote subverted

A science quote about the truth of the scientific purpose.
A riposte to anti-science

Quote playing with the fact that some people misrepresent science as telling lies about the nature of things

The quote is my own
A typography-based image
This quote is a riposte to the claim by anti-scientific sections of society that science peddles lies and untruths (often at the behest of big business, drug companies, governments and other interested parties). Such critics of science are often unaware of the scientific method.

Ref: a631

Philosophy logo

Philosophy logo - question mark

Philosophy logo
A question mark incorporating a face

A logo or symbol representing philosophy – in the form of a question mark with a face in the design
A typographical logo of a questionmark symbolising philosophy

See my book on philosophy
Ref a623

Cartoon of a person watching reality tv – infinite regression image

reality tv cartoon - infinite regression of image in tv screen

Reality tv cartoon – showing a person watching reality tv watching a person watching reality tv – an infinite regression image

A cartoon about television reflecting life: about the way that people’s lives are seemlessly integrated with technology – to the point where people only exist in relation to technology

An illustration of people doing nothing but watching reality television, for whom nothing exists beyond the tv screen, the computer screen or the phone screen.

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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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Neurological or genetic causes of criminality – cartoon

neurological or genetic causes of criminality - cartoon

Medicalisation of deviant behaviour cartoon
Neurological origins of behavioural traits
Neurocriminology and its implications

A cartoon about the possibility that criminal behaviour or deviant behaviour may sometimes (or often) have its roots in a person’s biology.
The idea that personality may be determined by biology is one aspect of the nature v nurture debate, and has implications for the concept of free will

An illustration about the medicalization of behaviour. This may include behavioural syndromes ranging from psychopathic tendencies and deviance to conditions such as hyperactivity, ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder), rebelliousness or non-conformity.

The cartoon illustrates the tendency of criminal lawyers to sometimes claim, for instance, that particular parts of dna or neurological makeup are responsible for criminal behaviour – thus removing responsibility from the person and placing it on the person’s dna or neurology.

The subject of neurological origins for criminal behaviour is dealt with in the book The Anatomy of Violence by Adrian Raine

The cartoon was first published in Philosophy Now magazine

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Illustration: unlock your creativity: unlock your mind

Padlock as head - unlocking it releases the imagination

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

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