christopher sharrock

November 2, 2008

Possibly the World’s Best Dressed Illustrator?

I will be posting illustrations and other stuff here regularly, so keep popping by…


25 Responses to “christopher sharrock”

  1. peter bailey Says:

    Hello, Chris
    Good to see the pics and your esoteric interests. Have a look at john broadley’s blog

  2. Hello Christopher, you true enthusiast of all drawings!

    Interesting to see, how some new English illustrators,
    like David Shrigley or Paul Davis par example, went for the “vernacular”. ( Tibor Kalman’s favorite term…. .)

    The “freshness” of their scribble, what is not pretending to make big statements., just effortless vignettes of spotted reality bits of our sorry daily life nailed according to the eagle eye.. what we
    have left to be entertained by.

    It seems more refreshing to see their doodlesin the times of the perfected 3D digital high res universe of empty!
    Since I am older, half of me is for the fresh, but the other half is
    missing a good chunk of the bygone era’s old fashion representation,
    such as James Gillray……..or Winsor Mc Cay or Yellow Kid.
    Somethig about them is grand…and lost forever!!

    I wonder, why carefully crafted details are no
    longer apprechiated in the academy, in life, the working hours put in are not reciprocated in monetary value…..
    It has been lost………the greed killed the quality!
    At the meantime the main topics shrunk to detail….and all what we have left is no more than detail.
    We have to celebrate detail ..and craftiness….to bring it back.

    God sits in the details……that much I am religious!

  3. sharrock Says:

    Hello to you, Istvan, crazy, talented drawer of everything!

    Yes, Shrigley (who calls himself a Scottish artist even though he was born in England) and Davis are exploring the ordinary absurdity of life in an understated way, which allows the absurdity to shine through. This (sort of) ties in with my theory about the balance of ideas and execution in an illustration. A strong conceptual content in an illustration needs a less detailed drawing to contain it. However, you – and Paul Slater- blow this theory out of the water!

    Freshness and vitality are probably two things easily lost in the search for super-real/hyper-real digital imagery. It’s hard to be lively with a mouse…..unless you are a cat.

    I too am of a certain age and while I used to quote Wyndham Lewis’s jibe about “the empty acrobatics of the hand”, it is very rewarding to see those masters and mistresses of the pen or brush. I think we did a puppet of Gillray at Spitting Image. He was one of Roger and Peter’s heroes. I remember seeing the film of Winsor McCay ‘drawing’ the frames for his animation Gertie the Dinosaur. He is standing with a large barrel labelled ‘ink’ and drawing the images on huge boards one at a time! No tracing!

    We are visually rich but time poor and we don’t have a sensible quality control mechanism (yet) that will help us decide what is worth looking at. So we look for the instant ‘return’. Details cost time and money and maybe there is neither! Too many details can deaden and stifle, just like too much 3D software rendering. But craft… well fashions come and go. Maybe we are about to see a return of the value of craft- and not just in illustration.

    Say ‘hello’ to God for me!!!

    And check out Chris McEwan’s work on the link I have just put up. I think you will like him!


  4. I am a sinner big time, so I may never get there with you, as MLK said it… the mountaintop, where they say, God
    comes down to converse, before telephone…….
    But if,- You will be on my mind!
    God maybe loves sinners after all..(the complex sinner kind)…..
    he invented everything after all, as they say:~, sin included!

    Well,- I can’t agree with you more.
    You can write like cake-walk!
    Spontaneity……., but you have to admit,
    even if time interval of all perceptions shrank to decimal….
    what do we do with the rest of our time saved?
    Nothing, dreaming to be a star
    Paris Hilton.
    Just lime light, but no “shtick”!
    “the empty acrobatics of the hand”….versa
    the empty acrobatics of the mind.
    6 pack!
    How we all want crafty i-pods.
    and designer shoes,
    but someone else has to bend over to do it.
    Fast food spontaneity is all over.
    tastes like “Shrugley” with ketchup.
    I like a little more detail……..
    just a dash…NOT TOO MUCH,
    just enough for a make believe.

    Other than that,- I truly enjoy their barbaric take a great deal.
    It relieves my frustration with all things considered….quite well…

    Hugs ist-one

    I am a “Scottish” illustrator, as well……
    I scott a lot this days!

  5. sharrock Says:


    You are so mad and so funny!
    Writing may be a cake-walk for me (thank you!) but drawing is definitely a cake-walk for you! I know which cake I would rather walk!

    Yes, there seems to be a quite a vacuum at the centre of some people’s existence. I think the empty acrobatics of the mind has spread from the US to here and beyond. It is what people seem to aspire to. Fame for its own sake. As hollow and unsatisfactory as much fast food…Consuming culture rather than creating it. No control over their own lives. Preferring to let others sweat for nothing over ubiquitous objects they feel are their identity. I predict an end to mass produced product design and the return of craft objects and personalised objects. But someone will have to teach everyone how to make things again. When I visited the design faculty of a South Korean university a few years ago they had a wall covered in about 200 mobile phones they had designed that year. I looked at the Dean and said ‘What do you think?’ and he said ‘I am a little bored with all of this…’

  6. Exactly.

    I would like to go back to school myself and start learning restoration.
    Art schools are a lot of talking, but very little craft is introduced to the pupils.
    It used to be a workshop in the good old Renaissance Period, (Capital Captions here…..)
    So they learned the art/the word -“craft” by doing, imitating…….
    “i Pod” nothing anymore
    even if “they Pod” all over……

    I would like to spend time with Jacques Louis David, help him finish The death of Marat….
    So I can start painting later my Death of Buch withgusto and mock!

    Best ist-1
    and a

  7. Exactly.

    I would like to go back to school myself and start learning restoration.
    Art schools are a lot of talking, but very little craft is introduced to the pupils.
    It used to be a workshop in the good old Renaissance Period, (Capital Captions here…..)
    So they learned the art/the word -”craft” by doing, imitating…….
    “i Pod” nothing anymore
    even if “they Pod” all over……

    I would like to spend time with Jacques Louis David, help him finish The death of Marat….
    So I can start painting later my Death of Busch with gusto and mock!

    Best ist-1

  8. sharrock Says:

    You are allowed to do anything as long as you don’t stop illustrating! Which art school would you go to? In what time period?

    The craft debate is a sore point here. I understand that American art schools do favour the craft based approach but that it is too often the craft of their tutor rather than a more general approach to craft skills, so you graduate as a ‘mini-me’.. Is that so?

    British art schools give more emphasis to the development of the individual student’s view of the word with craft coming behind that (if at all). It’s not fashionable or philosophically acceptable to offer life drawing on fine art courses. Illustration courses usually offer life drawing. What is interesting is that someone has to have the skills to make all of the stuff that Hirst/Emin/Koons etc. dream up, but they are seen as secondary; technicians not artists. But where are they going to learn these skills?

    In classical music people get excited about the skills of the performer as much as they do about the skills of the composer. People (especially someone like John Vernon Lord who is nuts about classical music) have their own preferred interpreter of Scriabin or Alkan, etc. In jazz it is about the skill of the performer and how they freely interpret the original work.

    We need a review of how we view the role of craft in art and design. In one of the pieces I wrote on education I pointed out that Asian students (a big source of income for UK universities) have a different concept of learning to western students. They come expecting to be taught skills and often are very disorientated and upset when they arrive and find out they won’t be taught skills. But we still take their money. Skills aren’t everything but they aren’t nothing either! (‘Scuse my Banyai-ish Englitch!)

    However I don’t think I’d be too happy with some of the approaches I saw in Japan. I went to a manga ‘art school’. All the kids were copying the same photocopied character sheet. There was only one way to draw a boy or a girl. This is how eyes look, this is what hair looks like etc. etc.

    There is a need for something in the middle…maybe an art school in the Atlantic or Pacific ocean would do it!

  9. Interesting, I can only add one tiny footnote, and agree with everything 100% what you mentioned………
    I was listening to Glenn Gould on YouTube…
    he said, Composers used to be performers at one Baach and Mozart…..etc. Interpretation is separated in music from composers
    Maybe we experience the same split in the visual.
    There are composers and interpreters more and more today, but it was the same
    person in the 18th century.
    Maybe I am old-fashioned….but,
    I prefer to do both and not see it done by two separate individuals.
    I rather split in two than take the editor’s (composer) advice!

    Jeff Koons is not the one who made it ready,
    Not much “Kunst”!

  10. sharrock Says:

    There is most definitely a split in the visual world of fine art. And it is intentional. But the difference with Bach and Gould (for example) is that Bach was skilled in the creation of the composition and Gould had to be skilled enough to play it and interpret it. Merely performing the notes isn’t enough. Gould is not just a technical assistant. A piano roll could play the notes accurately…

    I think the reason why JVL and others (me included) search for that definitive performance of a piece is something to do with this. But what do I know??

    Glen Gould is good, isn’t he! That YouTube clip was from a BBC programme, I think. Was it subtitled in Hungarian?

    Writing about piano rolls makes me think of Conlon Nancarrow. Do you know his work? Unplayable by man, playable by machines!
    Try Study for player piano 49c to start….

  11. Oscar Grillo Says:

    Sharrock. The man in the photo is not as elegant as you but it remains a close contest!…I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!!…How come I was missing it?..I left an answer to your comment in my blog. I proposed we should meet in Soho some time soon. You can write to me at A big embrace.


  12. sharrock Says:

    Thank you! He is my dog walker…I am glad you like this blog. I LOVE yours (but I am sooo jealous of how many great drawings you do each day!). I didn’t get to see your reply to my email. But we should met up before the bank reclaims me and sells me on to someone- sub-prime Sharrock!

    We can drink (water) to the memory of Nancarrow (and Alkan and Satie…).

    PS I was in Brazil a while ago and some illustrators asked me if I knew you…!!!!!

  13. Oscar Grillo Says:

    There’s an Awful Lot of Coffee in Brazil!

  14. Peter Bailey Says:

    Enjoying the blog, Chris.
    Have a look at

  15. sharrock Says:

    Thanks Peter! Actually I already know that one, but I didn’t know that other site you recommended, although I have been looking at sites that publish. Your recommendation looked v upmarket! Is it by invitation only?

    Phil tells me The Spectator gave one of your Philip Pullman illustrations a whole page in a recent issue. Excellent!

  16. JONNY HANNAH Says:

    Chris, fantastic to see your cover to the spectator.
    How do you fancy giving a talk at southampton, where I teach.
    ‘the rennaisance of an illustrator’, that sort of thing.
    or we could go for the caption at the top; ‘best dressed illustrator’
    (apart from jonny hannah).
    I’ll even design you a screenprinted poster. how could you possibly say no?
    Cheers, Jonny.

    • sharrock Says:

      Too kind, Jonny, too kind, but thank you! I’d love to come to Southampton. It would also be great to see you and compare trousers and co-respondent shoes!) I’ll email you.

  17. Lara Poyton Says:

    Hello. I was reading your interview with Aubrey Rix. He was a very old family friend, more of an extremely eccentric surrogate uncle. I found this article about him and his work that I thought you might find interesting. That’s my comment right at the bottom. I still have the letters he wrote. Thank you for your lovely piece about Rix. Lara Poyton

  18. Mr. Captoon Says:

    Hi sharrock,

    I think you are having craze for making caricature it shows through your drawings. Keep posting like this post.

  19. Sophie Yeff Says:

    Hi Sharrock, do you post these anywhere else too? E.g twitter/instagram? I can’t even express how much i’ve fallen in love with these and your style. You’re amazing! I just want to see more haha

    • sharrock Says:

      Hi Sophie, thank you for your kind words about my work. It’s very sweet of you. I do have twitter and instagram accounts but haven’t started using them. But I have been thinking of migrating the work from here over to instagram.

  20. Andreas Pietsch Says:

    Hi Christopher, I love your depiction of the PM. Would you allow me to use this caricature on a placard I would like to take to the Westminster mass lobby “We are not bargaining chips, we are people” on 20 Feb.
    Adding a couple of casino chips onto Theresa May’s shoulder and a modified John Hancock quote: 3 million (bargaining)chips on the shoulder is too heavy a piece of baggage to carry through life. would be my message.
    If you rather I didn’t I’ll respect it.
    Thank you.

    • sharrock Says:

      Hi Andreas, Thanks for the compliment and for asking in advance. Sure, you can use it in the way you describe. I don’t allow any free commercial usage, but this instance seems fine. Are you thinking of my original T. May drawing (line) or the more recent sketch? I personally prefer my most recent image, but you can choose the one you prefer.



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