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Artist of the Month – John Roberts

July 17, 2009 in Events


Bloghorn asked the our Artist of the Month for July, John Roberts, how he makes his cartoons.

Like everyone else, I have this huge old trunk of ‘cartoon ideas’ in the loft and once I’ve had a good rummage through I’ll sit down and draw them up. Until recently I would use a computer but now I have reverted back to good old pen and paper and watercolour (with a little bit of scanning in and colour enhancement using various software programs). I now realise that there is something ‘alive’ in the simple black mark of a pen that I just cannot emulate using a Wacom tablet. Drawing caricatures using a computer however is a different thing altogether and all my studio work is done this way.

Artist of the Month – John Roberts

July 10, 2009 in Events


Bloghorn’s Artist of the Month for July is John Roberts. John specialises in caricature, gag cartoons, humorous illustration and has been a highly successful on-the-spot caricaturist for the last ten years.

He is also one of the founders and organisers of the annual Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival.We asked John how he had become a cartoonist.

Believe it or not I wanted to save my sanity. In a previous life (good salary, company car, expenses etc etc) I found that if I didn’t change tack then I’d lose my marbles and so I had to have a major re-think.

I knew that I could make a living out of drawing so I decided to try to make it as a cartoonist. In the very early days I sent some caricatures to the Guardian and believe it or not they wrote back saying they’d like to use me and to ‘stand by’ for the phone call. At that time I was working flat out (24/7 as the dudes say these days) so I wrote back saying that that would be difficult in my present situation and so I turned them down! Probably the biggest mistake I have ever made in my life……

I eventually put a decent portfolio together and remember showing it to the late John Witt (cartoonist extraordinaire who used to have a cartoon studio in Chester) who took one look and said “Ever thought of doing ‘live’ caricaturing?”. Over the years I’ve often thought about John and what he had said and wondered if he suggested live caricaturing just to hack off his studio colleague and old friend Tim Leatherbarrow (caricaturist extraordinaire, of no fixed abode) but alas, caricaturing has been the mainstay of my work.

There will be another chat with John about his work next Friday.

Shrewsbury 2009 #11

April 23, 2009 in General


An evening with cartoonist Gerald Scarfe

September 18, 2008 in General

PCOers John Roberts and Steve Bright attended a recent illustrated talk given by the caricaturist at Shrewsbury. John reports for Bloghorn:

What struck me almost immediately about him is how charming and mild mannered this notoriously vicious caricaturist is . He admitted during his talk that he uses drawing as a therapy. He says he feels positively ill unless he draws everyday – much like Quentin Blake. He obviously loses his anger and frustrations during the process.

As a cartoonist, I found it fascinating that he claims that he cares little about the finished piece when he starts i.e. he feels that he HAS to get the idea down on paper as fast as possible or else he’ll succumb to some great disaster. He doesn’t really think “Gosh, this is a great idea and I must get it drawn and sold!”

He outlined the drawing process he uses – he never pre-draws in pencil (to keep the artwork “alive” and as fresh as possible) and pointed out with a great flourish of his outstretched arm, that he doesn’t draw with a constrained hand or by using his wrist but with fast and furious arm movements – he “draws from the shoulder”.

He outlined all the various illustration fields he has ploughed over the last 30 years from his famous caricature work (Sunday Times, New Yorker etc), opera designs for both scenery and costumes, animation work for Pink Floyd and his character designs for the animated Walt Disney film Hercules. I also found it very interesting that Scarfe has always been fascinated with animation claiming that it is still a greatly underrated art form which he would love to spend more time working with and developing.

One image stayed with me afterwards and that was of one of his cartoons for the Sunday Times which shows George W Bush, dressed as Superman, flying over the chokingly black smoke and flames of totally destroyed Iraq, with the caption “Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No it’s a F***ing Disaster!” Brilliant.

Further appearances at:
Sunday 21st September: Charleston Literary Festival, East Sussex: 4pm.
Friday 3rd October: Warwick Words Festival – illustrated talk and book signing: 3pm.
Saturday 11th October: illustrated talk at British Museum, London (The Big Draw): 1.30pm.
Saturday 18th October: Cheltenham Book Festival: 10am.
Monday 20th October: illustrated talk, Guildford Festival: 7.30pm. (contact venue for ticket details).
Monday 27th October: illustrated talk at British Library, London: 7pm. (contact venue for ticket details).


The BBC has an illustrated interview with Scarfe here.

The PCO: British cartoon talent

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival – The Big Boarders

April 9, 2008 in General

Kipper Williams of The Guardian is one of this year’s PCO Big Boarders at the festival. Above is one of Kipper’s submissions to the “But is it Art?” exhibition, which is already open in the town.

The full list of cartoonist Big Boarders drawing at this year’s festival, over the weekend of Friday 18th and Saturday 19th April, is:

Steve Bright, Clive Collins, Bill Stott, Ross Thomson, Martin Honeysett, Alex Hughes, Pete Dredge, John Roberts, Matt Buck (Hack), Royston Robertson, Mike Turner, Noel Ford, Steve Best (Bestie), Dave Brown, Ian Baker, Chris Burke, Andy Davey, Neil Dishington, Paul Hardman, and Andy McKay (NAF).

PCOer Pete Dredge will be blogging tomorrow about how it feels to do a big board at Shrewsbury.

British cartoon talent

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