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Beauty or bunk? The art of creativity

September 19, 2012 in Comment

Bill Stott art cartoon

© Bill Stott @

Cartoonist and member Bill Stott talks creativity while trying to avoid the usual pitfalls

“Creativity is bunk” – I can’t remember where I read that, but it sort of lodged, because its bizarre. Not unlike Big Brother being classed as entertainment.

Maybe its one of the utterings of the great, good, and often dead. Like Henry Ford’s “History is bunk”. Mind you, historians tell us that he never actually said it. That’s a relief then. But somebody who might have said the one may have said the other.

And what’s “bunk” when it’s at home? Cowboys sleep on them, as do sailors, but such are the mysteries of the English language that “bunk” also means “nonsense” and, more recently, “boring”.

“Creativity is nonsense/boring”. Hmm. Should really define “creativity” first, I suppose. But I’ll neatly sidestep that by not doing so. Huge danger there, particularly for an artist, of falling into the head-up-arse artbollocks trap. Let’s leave that to the critics.

Bill Stott art cartoon

© Bill Stott @

If Ford did say it, he was wrong. Without engineering creativity, he’d never have been able to churn out millions of black Model Ts (and they weren’t all black and he never said they had to be. Apparently). He surely didn’t think the millions he made out of bunk were boring.

Let’s face it, I’m avoiding the issue here. “Creativity is bunk” is aimed at we airy-fairy, arty types who dare to put substance to their imaginings. And I’m not at all sure that there are people who cannot appreciate beauty, or at least arresting physical fact. If there were, it wouldn’t have been necessary to invent things like “I don’t know much about Art but I know what I like”.

I have a neighbour who can’t tell a Rembrandt from a Bacon, but who waxes lyrical about the design of his golf clubs. He doesn’t make the link. But he does think they’re beautiful. Maybe the thing is that they are beautiful because they are things of purpose, like a beautiful car (not yours, Henry) or a beautiful greyhound. This last isn’t a good example because when greyhounds stop making money, they stop being desirably beautiful and become pet food.

Creativity, in all its artistic, technological and scientific forms is the antithesis of bunk. Creativity is asking questions about the nature of creation. Better go steady here – artbollocks looms – so let’s use mathematics as an example instead.

Maths is/are beautiful. There’s a logical symmetry there that is unbeatable. And if you’re bright enough to push the maths boat right out, it brushes aside logic, symmetry, and for us artproles, even understanding. No mathsbollocks there, just quantum mechanics.

Our thanks to Bill. You can see lots of examples of creativity in action if you check out his portfolio and many others here

The cartoonist as endurance athlete

October 4, 2010 in Comment

Marathon cartoon by Nick Newman
In the week when applicants for the London Marathon find out whether they have been successful in securing a place in the 2011 event, Nick Newman, cartoonist for Private Eye and the Sunday Times, tells the Bloghorn why he takes part:

I’ve always had the itch. Since living in London since the early 1980s, and seeing the first London Marathons on television, I always felt that the distance was the pinnacle of human endeavour – after all, the Greek Pheidippides died as a result of running the very first one.

At school, I was the fat boy who tried to get out of all games. The annual steeplechase – 4 miles of muddy terrain – was the source of nightmares. Running was, quite literally, a punishment.

Yet now I “enjoy” nothing more than a 6-mile run. This is, of course, a joke. It’s all hell, pain and regret – instead of warmth, comfort and breakfast. I enjoy it when it stops. So why do I do it?

I started running to try to lose weight. While that worked, I found an unexpected side-effect: solitude. A chance to think. And when I was really thinking, I forgot about how annoying the running was. The result was ideas, jokes, storylines for potential scripts and jokes about running which could be converted into ideas about storylines for potential scripts.

Cartoonists are well primed to run long-distance. It’s lonely and introspective. Road, road, road, dog waste, road – she’s nice – road. You just have to think of something else. Russell Taylor (of Alex fame) wrote an excellent book about his own marathon experience after he ran the New York Marathon. The fact that he wrote a humorous book about it shows how it can stimulate the creative juices, as well as blisters.

My own marathon experience began with me hooking up with a friend who put me in touch with a charity (the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign) which was all too happy to take me on as a potential runner and give me a marathon place – provided I could guarantee £1,500 of sponsorship. This year I ran for the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, on a similar basis.

Still, it puts a strain on your loved ones, who weary of the decrepit, bow-legged invalid shuffling round Sainsburys after a 15-miler. Falling asleep spilling your wine down your front doesn’t help either (though, to be honest, I was doing that long before I started running seriously).

The result is a truly life-changing experience. I’ve now run two of the buggers, and I can honestly say they are the most life-affirming events I’ve ever experienced.

This is an extract from an article which is in the running for an appearance in our print magazine, Foghorn, later this year. Bloghorn thanks Nick.

PCO Procartoonists – Where creativity comes from – part 1

January 28, 2008 in General

PCOer John Roberts writes;

I was telephoned before Christmas by a very enthusiastic young lady telling me that she worked for a television production company. She told me she thought a caricaturist was something that they were looking for.

A caricature of Nicole Kidman by PCO member John Roberts

Her company had been commissioned to set up a series of programmes to be transmitted on a new BBC reality-TV talent show called Upstaged where participants “should try to entertain the public for up to 8 hours.” Excuse me, I said, did you say “entertain the public for up to 8 hours?” Yes, that’s right” she said “very exciting idea isn’t it? The public will look at the various ‘acts’ day by day and vote on which ones will be put into a head-to-head playoff in two large glass studios in the centre of Bristol at the end of each week. And all to see which act is the more entertaining.”

It is possible I may have turned down a great opportunity but I feel I’ve retained what’s left of my dignity.

Bloghorn says click R for Roberts.

British cartoon talent

PCOProcartoonists on graphic humour

November 8, 2007 in General

Well, this wasn’t the graphic humour controversy BLOGHORN was planning to publish, but this set of jokes, below, was so good, we thought we thought we had better go with it anyway. The creator is called Cyriak Harris.

8th November 2007
British cartoon talent