Cartoons on any subject you like

I will draw cartoons on any subject a client can think of ... as long as as it's legal and they are willing to pay me the appropriate fee for it. It's all part of the "cartoonist for hire" side of the job. Above is a cartoon for a car-trade magazine. Below is an excerpt from a strip for a finance company's intranet (click to read).

Recently I was asked to come up with six cartoons on the subject of "anaerobic digestion". That, as I'm sure you know, is the process of turning waste products into bio-fuels. I've asked around, and no cartoonist I know has so far come up with anything more odd as a commission! Clearly, it's not an obvious subject for humour, but it can be done (and was).

The key is not to get bogged down in jargon and detail. The cartoon should be quick and simple, a humorous counterpoint to the serious stuff. And it can be very serious: the above is from a book called The Business Impact of Enterprise Asset Management.

Here's a random selection of some other subjects I've been commissioned to draw cartoons about over the years: planning regulations, the Lord Mayor's Show, NHS governing boards, accountancy, tourist guiding, the London Local Authorities Act, curry (and rice), health and safety, life in medieval times, careers, grammar and punctuation, golf, caravanning, IT marketing ... I think you probably get the point.

Royston's portfolio website


Coming soon: Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival

The Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival website has been updated, with details of this year's events. The festival takes place from April 23-26, with various exhibitions in April and May. There's more at The Bloghorn.

This will be my fourth time at the festival. Here's what I got up to last year, and in 2007 and 2006. Or click this link for all my Shrewsbury- related posts.

Royston's portfolio website


Family cartoon: Life imitates art

When this Reader's Digest cartoon was published last summer, I showed it to my son as it had been inspired by playing Hangman with him. After I explained the joke (he is only six, after all) he suggested that we play a game of Whole Life Tariff! So we did.

I mention this now as earlier in the week I found the game on a piece of paper, while sorting through a pile of receipts. Here it is:

My son – who is not called Josh, by the way! – did not get the answer (below, upside-down of course) so the prisoner spends his life in jail. Humane, but not quite as much fun as Hangman.

(ɥɔɐǝq ǝɥʇ ʇɐ ǝɹǝʍ ǝʍ) ɹıɐɥɔ ʞɔǝp

Royston's portfolio website


My new advertising campaign

Someone told me that in times of recession you should spend more on advertising your business. So I have. What do you reckon? Oh OK, it's not real. This was created on the Bus Slogan Generator website which was inspired by the recent "No God" advertising campaign, run by the British Humanist Association.

That website address again: roystonrobertson.co.uk

Biology cartoon: It's only natural

This is one of four cartoons I submitted for the "Science of Nature" (working title) exhibition which is part of the 2009 Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival. The festival takes place from April 23-26, though the exhibitions will open before that.

As 2009 is the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin, and he was born in Shrewsbury, the festival has a Darwin-related theme. The organisers suggested that "Science of Nature" be interpreted widely though, presumably so they weren't inundated with too many "Ascent of Man" gags.

This is a cartoon that I was touting around some months ago. It has got a great reaction from everyone I've shown it to, but the magazine editors have not bitten. I suppose it is a bit of a weird one, it doesn't look like your usual magazine gag cartoon. Maybe they don't want people to turn the page and suddenly think they're reading a textbook on sexual reproduction.

Royston's portfolio website

The Massive White Horse of the South

We're getting a new piece of public artwork here in Kent, it was announced yesterday. It has been "dubbed" the Angel of the South, apparently (though when the media says something has been dubbed it's usually them that do the dubbing).

It could more accurately be described as the Massive White Horse of the South, as it's going to be 50 metres high. Of course, the knives (chainsaws?) are out already, with people complaining that it is a white, er, elephant. It costs too much, they say, it won't stay white for long etc.

I was living in the North East when they were planning the Angel of the North. Many people voiced their opposition in much the same way ... costs too much, it won't stay looking like an Angel once the vandals have had a go at it, someone will strip it for scrap metal and so on.

We all know what happened. Everyone went, Ooooh, it's a great big statue! For us! They fell in love with it and took it to their hearts. I wouldn't rule out that happening here.

Public art gets a bad press from art critics. But it's not for them, it's for the people and quite often they embrace it. Look at the John Betjeman statue at the new St Pancras Station (if you can get near it). It it such a bad thing to produce art that people can really relate to?

The Professional Cartoonists Organisation team gather by the John Betjeman statue at St Pancras Station after the Battle of the Cartoonists, part of the 2008 Big Draw. Left to right: Royston Robertson, Pete Dredge, Kipper Williams and Robert Duncan

Of course, the White Horse creator Mark Wallinger is famous for another animal-related artwork: the man in the bear suit wandering around a gallery. I'd like to have seen that 50 metres high, looming over the Kent countryside.

Here's an archive blog post on the last time there was a big art project down this way.

Royston's portfolio website


Snow cartoon: A load of rubbish

Why does everyone insist on saying "Blimey, a bit of snow and the whole country grinds to a halt!" as though that's a bad thing? We need more grinding to a halt. Surely it's time to petition the Government for an officially recognised National Grinding to a Halt Day?

Royston's portfolio website


Blogging cartoon: Now we are five

Amazingly, it's five years since I started this blog. I began it on January 31, 2004, and at first I really didn't know what to do with it. To be honest, I think I started it because it was what a lot of people were doing, and I kind of liked the idea of blogging.

So, a few months into the first year, the number of posts tailed off. And once I went full-time as a cartoonist, in August 2004, they almost stopped completely. Blogging took a back seat because I was in panic mode about being a full-timer for at least 12 months. Since January 2006, though, I've posted fairly regularly and now have a good idea of what I want to do with the site.

This is not the sort of blog where you get lots of news about what's happening in the world of cartoons. There are plenty of people that do that far more comprehensively than I ever could, and it's a very valuable service that they provide. Instead, this blog is simply about my little corner of the cartooning world.

Blogging gives me a more flexible way to talk about what I'm up to than the more static portfolio site. I look at the visitor stats from time to time, so I know that people do pop in fairly regularly. Your visits are much appreciated and I hope you continue to find reasons to come back occasionally.

Royston's portfolio website