about me

November 2, 2008

A life-long fan of drawing from an early age, I only discovered that comics were actually drawn by people (not made in some factory by a machine) when I got my first set of American comics at the age of about seven. Unlike British comics, they had credits for the artists! While I loved the work of Gene Colan, Neal Adams, Bernie Wrightson, etc. I soon discovered I didn’t have the patience to do a whole comic and resorted to single images.

At art school in Liverpool (where my fellow students included Henry Priestman, Peter ‘Budgie’ Clarke and Bill Drummond) I became interested in caricature and conceptual illustrations. After graduating I moved to London with the illustrator Yvonne Gilbert and ended up being her agent at Artist Partners. Shortly after this I co-founded The Artworks illustration agency where Yvonne joined me. I also represented Wilson McLean and Alan Lee, as well as discovering the wood engraver Christopher Wormell.

In the middle of resigning from the agency on a matter of principle, I received a telephone call from Roger Law who invited me to come and work on the ground-breaking television series, Spitting Image. I was one of a small group of caricaturists who drew and sculpted the clay heads that were then moulded in foam.

I had two brilliant years on the show, in spite of having to work in an unheated abandoned banana warehouse in London’s Docklands. Mocked for wearing gloves while sculpting (it was freezing!) Roger and his partner Peter Fluck (both quite tall men) used me to warm up the plasticine we occasionally modelled with. They had designed a workbench that was the right height for them, but too high for me. By placing sacks of plasticine on my chair, I was the correct height and the plasticine was warmed through.

I had done a little bit of teaching in art schools while I was an agent, but after Spitting Image I plunged headlong into academia, running the new postgraduate illustration course at Central St. Martins. From there I went to the University of Brighton, initially to run the illustration course, but later as course leader for both graphic design and illustration. I was blessed with talented students and amongst those I taught were James Jarvis, Jasper Goodall, Laura Stoddart, Jason Ford and Simone Lia, to name but a few.

I gave up my job at Brighton to bring up my daughter when her mother became creative director of Wedgwood. Working again as a freelance illustrator my clients included The Guardian, Evening Standard Magazine, The Telegraph, Tatler, Vogue, Penguin Books, Singapore Airlines and several European advertising agencies. When my daughter was old enough to go to school I went back into education, first at a little art school in Herefordshire then at Camberwell College of Arts in London, where I was the Dean.

While at Spitting Image I wrote radio comedy scripts with a fellow worker, Linton Bocock. We worked mostly on BBC Radio 4’s Weekending (a topical satire show) where we were lucky enough to be taken under the wing of the late, great Harry Thompson. Sadly our writing careers never flourished (unlike those of our contemporaries, Punt and Dennis, Newman and Baddiel). Linton’s theory was that we ruined it by attending the Weekending Christmas Party. All of the other writers kept asking me where Linton was and when I pointed out the pasty faced northerner, they looked a bit surprised. “They thought I was their token black writer, didn’t they?” said Linton, who from then on was referred to as Linton Kwesi Bocock. We tried to write for Spitting Image but were blocked immediately by Roger Law who succinctly summed up the reasons our scripts would not be accepted: “You’re a fucking caricaturist and he’s a fucking puppeteer. Neither of you is a fucking writer. Scripts are written by writers.” Sweet… Roger wasn’t that big a fan of my caricatures either. He took a completed head of Jane Fonda I had spent three days on and threw it in the bin then, for good measure, jumped up and down on it. He occasionally referred to me as the Lord Snowdon of caricaturists. I was just too nice to my subjects.

For the past year I have been working on two research projects: theories on how to teach people to be creative on demand (based on my years of teaching illustrators and designers) and the internationalisation of higher education. I am still fairly passionate about the values of education, in spite of the nincompoop bosses who seem intent on destroying it. I have also been to my first life drawing classes in over thirty years. Good, God, I can still draw!

P.S. If you came here hoping to hear about my work with Robbie Williams, Ian Broudie, Oasis and The Icicle Works, etc. then you don’t want Chris Sharrock the Scouse illustrator and educator, you want Chris Sharrock the Scouse drummer.

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15 Responses to “about me”

  1. Lee wright Says:

    Hello Mr Sharrock,

    I do hope you remember me from your time at the little art school in Hereford (I was the one who came in on a saturday to help get the show ready while everyone else was in bed nursing hangovers).

    I do hope that jogs your memory sufficiently, if not I can always send you a photograph.

    The reason I have for getting in touch with you is that I am currently applying for the post of drawing lecturer at Camberwell College of Arts where I understand you held the position of Dean of the School for a period of time. Since you may still know other lecturers within the college and (I hope) still remember myself and my unbridled passion for all things drawn, I was wondering if I could have the pleasure of putting you down as a reference on my application form.

    I have for the last 3 years been associated with eyecandy illustration agency producing illustrations for national and international newspapers, trade magazines and even a 30ft long display board in the main foyer at the Science Museum. I have though, been considering a side ways step into education as I feel I have the right temperament to be able to guide students in the right direction and also the passion to be able to make them question and challenge the world around them, in a visual sense.

    Anyway I understand I am taking up valuable space on your comments wall (none posted on the time of writing) and will bid you farewell. Should you except my invitation as a reference I would be eternally grateful and might just extend that to sending you a Christmas card.

    Please e-mail me back with your address and contact number.

    Thanks Christopher, I hope you and the family are all doing well.

    Regards

    Lee Wright

    leewrightis@hotmail.com

  2. sharrock Says:

    Good to hear from you Lee. I am sending you a reply to your hotmail address.

    Christopher


  3. What a shame the 4 years spent teaching in Hereford didn’t leave more of an impact on your biog! The College still remembers you and it’s quite big now!

  4. Duval & Read Says:

    Dear Christopher Sharrock,

    We are two collaborative artists currently practicing in London.

    We are contacting you in connection with our April 2009 project that will take us by boat from Tilbury in the Thames Gateway, to Sao Paulo in Brazil. The container ship will cross the Atlantic over 12 days.

    You were the Dean during the time that both of us studied at Camberwell College of Art (2004-2007). Towards the end of that time we remember hearing that you were undertaking research relating to Brazil. We also have a memory that you were involved in a project that bridged Peckham and Brazil in some way?

    It would be great if you could let us know via one of our personal email addresses whether this is you, and whether you are still pursuing this line of research? We are very keen to seek your advice regarding our project.

    Duval & Read

  5. Colin Hamilton Says:

    Hi Chris,
    I was looking up some information about John Watson, who was an exflat mate in the 80’s. I stumbled on your website.
    I hadn’t had any contact with him for about 10 yrs and was shocked to recently discover that he had died. I was wondering if you had any more information about what happened to him.
    Colin


  6. Hi Chris

    I’ve just come across your blog and I’d just like to say great work. I had a two year stint with the BBC’s Politics Show as their political cartoonist and the subject matter is a passion for me too.

    Best wishes
    Gary Barker
    info@garybarker.co.uk

    • sharrock Says:

      Thanks Gary. I know your work from the BBC’s show. I don’t envy you having to turn round stuff on short deadlines! It’s bad enough doing editorial!

      Good luck!

  7. Julia King Says:

    Hi Christopher,
    I had the pleasure of looking after your daughter nearly eighteen years ago in
    Brighton for nearly four years which was a very happy time for me! I was so pleased to find all this information about you.Aaron is
    doing a degree at Brighton University in Music and Visual art at the same time fronting a band ‘Aaron King’ as singer song writer- I just wanted to send all our best to you and family and I would love to catch up if you have the time- if only to explain why it was seeing John Major on the One show that prompted a thought process that lead me to look you up!
    Best regards
    Julia

  8. sharrock Says:

    Hi Julia!

    Lovely to hear from you! We often wonder how you and Aaron are getting on.

    Alice was eighteen on July 5th (gulp!) and is hardly recognisable as the little blonde you looked after! We hardly recognise her these days!

    I will send an email to your hotmail address so we can catch up!

    Love

    Christopher

  9. Emmalsworth Says:

    Hi Christopher, I was wondering if you still do illustration work? I’m hoping to bring a character to life for a blog called Thelonious Grump and have been researching artists to help. I came across your illustration of Eric Pickles and thought a character along those lines would be perfect. I’d love to get in contact with you.

    Thanks in advance,
    Emma


  10. Hi Chris,

    I was at one of your lectures about creative thinking, which in turn inspired me to base my final year dissertation on the process of idea generation and creation. I was hoping you would be able to answer a few questions on the subject for me?! I have notes from your lecture, but a few words from the horses mouth, as it were, would be absolutely invaluable

    Here’s hoping,

    Thanks,

    Kit

    • sharrock Says:

      Hi Kit,

      Good to hear from you. Where did you hear me talk? I am more than happy to help (as long as I am not writing your dissertation for you! 😉 I will send you my email address.

      Best,

      Christopher

  11. Sonia Says:

    hi Sharrock,
    I’m working as a photo researcher on a college textbook and we will like to use your sketch of Stephen Colbert in it. Could you contact me at this email: sonia_brown@mcgraw-hill.com at your earliest convenience for permission clearance?

    Thanks,
    Sonia

  12. John brine Says:

    To have the talent to capture the features and personality of a person is a gift, to take them to another level with such a distorted caricature and to instantly recognise them is brilliance.
    Good work.


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