Crossing bridges cartoon
A cartoon from a series of ‘wellness’ cartoons featuring a life coach and spiritual advisor called Mrs Walton.
In this cartoon she is advising someone that “Just because there is a bridge it doesn’t mean that you have to cross it.”.
The cartoon is about the way that people’s lives and attitudes are channeled in particular directions by the structures imposed by their societies.
A cartoon about life coaches and lifestyle advice.
Cartoon reference number: a903
Confirmation bias cartoon
A cartoon from a series featuring a life coach and lifestyle advisor called Mrs Walton.
In the cartoon she. is advising someone to “Never believe anyone who you agree with.”
The cartoon is about the fact that people tend to seek out opinions that agree with their own, thus reinforcing rather than questioning their own opinions, a phenomenon called confirmation bias.
Cartoon reference number: a902
Is Antony Gormley a narcissist?
The cartoon is about the psychological motives behind Antony Gormley’s desire to populate the planet with multiple representations of himself.
I’ve heard him say that he’s been accused of narcissism. But then what artist can’t be accused of more than a bit of self-obsession?
Original version drawn: 2007
This version drawn: 2019
Cartoon reference number: art047
This cartoon features in my book of cartoons about art.
See the book here.
An optimist who insists on looking on the bright side of everything can be very irritating.
A woman driven to murdering her husband because he is unrelentingly optimistic all of the time.
A cartoon about optimism, personality traits, positivity, looking on the bright side.
Cartoon drawn: 2002
Cartoon reference number: a703
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.
This is not a metaphor about race or racial prejudice, although metaphorical links can be made.
The cartoon is a comment on the fact that people tend to analyse things in black and white, as “either/or” or in binary.
Cartoon drawn: 2012
Cartoon reference number: a701
Cartoon about child psychology and child development.
An image illustrating aggressive tendencies within people. Nature or nurture?
Cartoon drawn: 2004
Cartoon reference number: a681
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
Date created: 2013
Cartoon reference number: a602
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
Cartoon about self-help books
An introvert reading a self-help book about how to be an extrovert
A cartoon about therapy, psychology, psychiatry, personality types
Cartoon drawn: 2013
Cartoon reference number: a650
Medicalisation of deviant behaviour cartoon
The nature v nurture debate on human personality
Neurological origins of behavioural traits
A cartoon about the tendency to invoke medical reasons for deviant personality traits, for abnormal personality traits or even for normal aspects of personality.
It shows one aspect of the nature v nurture debate
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.
In this cartoon I’ve invented a medical condition that is being used by a parent to justify her child’s aberrant or antisocial behavior
The cartoon reflects the tendency to claim, for instance, that particular parts of dna are responsible for criminal behaviour – thus removing responsibility from the person and placing it on the dna
The image is not meant to imply that there is no neurological basis for behaviour, just that it can sometimes be used as an excuse for bad behaviour
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 Prospect magazine in May 2013
Cartoon reference number: a591
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
Padlock head cartoon
A surreal or bizarre image showing a person with a head in the form of a padlock.
The person is holding the padlock’s key in their hands.
The drawing was created with no idea what it means, although it’s probably an unconscious metaphor for something as it gives the impression of aspiring to be psychologically profound. Perhaps it’s meant to refer in some ways to psychology, the workings of the mind, the conceptualisation of ideas and so on. Maybe it’s about the way that people become locked into patterns of thought and behaviour (while holding the key to escaping).
A cartoon about cognition, thought processes, psychiatry, the mind
Date created: 2013
Cartoon reference number: a601
Herbal remedy or alternative medicine cartoon
“Thyme is a great healer”
A joke about alternative medicine, complimentary medicine or natural remedies
The cartoon is set in a health food store, a complimentary medical practitioners or similar
Cartoon drawn: 2013
Cartoon reference number: a590
A hammer nailed down.
Did the nails nail down the hammer to stop the hammer hitting nails?
The image can be seen as a metaphor 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 violence, revenge, surrealism, dada, tools, crime, motives.
Cartoon reference number: ham710a
Teamwork or management cartoon
There’s No ‘I’ in ‘team’
An illustration about group psychology and team dynamics.
It suggests that while a group or team may be important, it’s also important not to suppress the individual too much (as individuals are usually more creative than groups)
This cartoon is suitable for publications about motivation, or in presentations about group dynamics or by motivational speakers.
It’s also a image about questioning authority, questioning established viewpoints and about individualism
Date drawn: 2013
Cartoon reference number: a588
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
Cartoon reference number: a587
The first law of survival – don’t let them know you’re scared – cartoon
A cartoon showing astronauts on an alien world. One of the astronauts is being sucked into the mouth of a space monster. The other astronaut is shouting “Remember the first law of survival – don’t let it know that you’re scared!”
A cartoon about overcoming your fears and confronting your anxieties
Cartoon reference number: a563
An illustration or cartoon about communication between people
The cartoon shows two people who communicate so well together that their speech balloons form two interlocking halves of a jigsaw that fit together perfectly
The cartoon illustrates a couple who are a perfect match who relate perfectly, complimenting each other, with their thoughts and ideas linking perfectly (symbolised by their speech bubbles matching or complimenting).
The shapes of the jigsaw pieces can also be interpreted as having a sexual connotation.
The cartoon is linked to therapy, relationships, couples, communication, understanding, empathy.
Cartoon reference number: a407
A humorous quotation about pedantry
“I’m not a pedant (in the strict definition of the term)
The quote is my own
A typography-based image showing a funny quote about pedants
The humour is in the fact that only a pedant would qualify their lack of pedantry as quoted here
A moody illustration about oppressive thoughts and entities
This is an atmospheric drawing of a small person between two overwhelming and threatening forms.
It is a psychological illustration of the feeling of threat
A drawing about psychology, paranoia, neurosis, neurotic thoughts, looming danger
This drawing is mostly a sketch drawn with a ballpoint pen. It’s been added to in Photoshop, especially in the sky.
Cartoon reference number: a388
Cartoon about motivational self-help books and books about self improvement
A comment on the ethos of self motivation, self improvement, competitiveness and overachievement as promoted by the achievement orientated culture of contemporary western society.
The illustration shows someone ignoring the instructions of a book on self motivation. He is using the book as an aid to relaxation rather than action.
The flower is a reference to the idea that you should always give yourself time to ‘smell the roses’.
Self-help books often deal with subjects of popular psychology such as relationships, or in aspects of the mind and human behaviour which the books claim can be modified or controlled to the advantage of the reader. Self-help books usually promote themselves as being able to increase the reader’s happiness, self-awareness and performance.
Cartoon reference number: a341
An illustration of a person looking out through an eye
Illustration of an eye, with a tiny person inside it looking out
Illustration: looking through someone else’s eyes.
An eye with a face looking out through the pupil as though it’s a window or the entrance of a dark cave.
In this image the eye is a window with someone looking out through it. It may have something to do with the saying “The eyes are the windows to the soul”. Or maybe not.
It’s as though there’s a tiny person living inside the person’s eye, or maybe inside their head. This is related to the homunculus argument (homunculus: Latin for “little man”), which is a philosophical concept that imagines that there is a tiny person inside the head monitoring the activity of the person whose head it’s in.
Homunculus arguments are used in psychology and the philosophy of mind to detect where theories of mind fail or are incomplete, usually betrayed by the recursive nature of the concept under examination (where a problem isn’t resolved but is simply repeated at one step removed, as in “Who’s watching the watcher?” or “Is there a homunculus inside the head of a homunculus?”.
Cartoon reference number: a339
Cartoon about how to avoid reinforcement of prejudice.
Cartoon showing how to avoid having your prejudices confirmed.
The cartoon shows a ‘lifestyle guru’ telling someone to ‘never believe anyone you agree with’.
This cartoon is part of a series about the phenomenon of gurus, personal counsellors, lifestyle coaches, motivational speakers and so on. In the series the guru, counsellor or what-have-you is a very ordinary middle aged woman rather than someone who is removed from the humdrum of everyday life, as a deliberate parody of the usual lifestyle advisers and self improvement gurus.
Cartoon about reinforcement of prejudice, philosophy, lifestyle, lifestyle coaching, gurus, motivational speakers, counselling, truth, knowledge, opinions, prejudice, bias, bigotry, thinking outside the box.
Cartoon reference number: a126
Photo of fingers and thumb with faces drawn on nails
Happy faces on finger nails. But the thumb looks glum.
I’m putting this photo up now because it bears a similarity to a work by David Shrigley, who has a major exhibition – Brain Activity – opening at the Hayward Gallery today.
The David Shrigley artwork that it resembles is’Passport’, 2005. It’s probably similar to other Shrigley works, but that happens to be the one that I’ve seen (as of yesterday).
My photo was created by me in March 2001, so any similarity to David Shrigley is totally coincidental, unless he saw my work of course.
The image shows faces drawn onto fingernails. The faces on the fingernails are all looking happy and smiling, but the face on the thumb is looking glum. That’s because the thumb feels that it is doesn’t quite fit in with the close-knit group of fingers who have always been very close to each other.
The picture that may be about happiness, togetherness, group identity, friendship, alienation, outsiders, rejection, cliques.
Cartoon reference number: a106
Cartoon about the sometimes unnecessary use of therapy and psychiatry.
This isn’t a criticism of all therapy and psychiatry by the way, despite appearances. It’s more a questioning of some of the characteristics of some of the practices – their philosophies, policies, politics and so on.
A cartoon about counselling, therapy, psychiatrists.
Cartoon reference number: a093
Cartoon about identity – a mirror that reflects the true you.
Cartoon – a mirror that reflects people’s personality rather than their appearance.
Part of the joke in the cartoon is that the shop that is selling the mirrors is selling two types of mirror. One type reflects an idealised image of the viewer, while the other reflects what the viewer really looks like at the level of their personality. The joke is that all of the idealising mirrors have sold out, and the others are all unsold.
The cartoon contains ideas similar to the portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – and to the film Shallow Hal (which it predates).A cartoon about psychology, self image, personality, physiognomy.
Cartoon reference number: a092
A cartoon about identity.
Cartoon about identity and masks – person wearing a mask, with the face behind the mask being the same as the mask itself
Cartoon about masks. The joke in the cartoon is that the face behind the mask is exactly the same as the mask. Is it a mask itself? It’s ambiguous.
A cartoon about hidden identities, the subconscious, personality projection, true self, anonymity, psychology, psychiatry, alternative identities.
Cartoon reference number: a091
Happiness cartoon. The pursuit of happiness
Happiness cartoon – the pursuit of happiness. Showing a person chasing party balloons like a donkey pursuing a carrot on a stick.
The cartoon illustrates people’s innate desire to pursue happiness.
The cartoon illustrates the concept that happiness is transient and can’t be grasped and kept permanently (symbolised by the idea of grabbing and hanging onto the party balloons in the illustration).
The cartoon depicts the pursuit of happiness as a motivation for people doing things.
A cartoon about people’s expectations of happiness, the elusiveness of happiness, the search for happiness, the pursuit of happiness, thwarted expectations, motivation, sense of discontentment, motivational activities.
Cartoon reference number: a090