The self-analysed cartoonist

March 12, 2009 in Comment

Caricaturist Adrian Teal writes about the paralysis of analysis:

A PhD student phoned me yesterday, wanting to pick my brains. She’s doing research into politicians and how political cartoons are perceived, and emailed me a list of searching questions which she’ll be putting to me in a telephone interview in a day or so.

I’m happy to help, though she tells me she has already spoken to Steve Bell and Martin Rowson, so I’m not sure I’ll have anything more insightful and enlightening to offer than these two giants of the Comment page.

And so to confession time …

The problem is that I tend not to think too deeply about what I do – at least, not that often. Analysing the cartoonist is like taking a butterfly apart to see how it works. I don’t draw because I think I can change the world, or to destabilize governments, though it is highly rewarding to have a pop at a venal politico now and again. I draw because I have to. At 34, I can’t see myself doing anything else. It is as much a part of my life as shaving, or yawning. The actual process can be agonising, although the labour pains are usually forgotten when the artwork turns out well. Sure, I like to be praised when I do a good job, but if I’m honest, I don’t even enjoy cartooning 100 per cent of the time. I suspect most cartoonists are the same.

Correct me if I’m wrong.

3 responses to The self-analysed cartoonist

  1. Adrian, you’re not wrong! I do try to answer those long lists of questions when I receive them but one day I’m going to be completely honest and admit that I simply day dream until an idea pops into my head. Like my driving – I press the pedals and turn the wheel but I haven’t a clue about the process that converts that into getting me from A to B.

  2. Ditto all the above. AND, what did some clever person call PhDs once ? More and more about less and less.

  3. In a nutshell,Adrian. What we do is ‘work’ and although I can’t contemplate doing anything else or wouldn’t wish to, it is, in it’s own way, a stressful career choice. It is up to others to judge ‘how lucky we are to do a job like that’ . It’s bloody hard work making something look effortless!

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