In caricature

PUBLISHED: 16:32 13 July 2009 | UPDATED: 15:03 20 February 2013

Banana Man By Steve Bright

Banana Man By Steve Bright

Shrewsbury hosts an international Cartoon festival this month. Dave Hancock met two of the main draws... or should that be drawers?


In caricature

Shrewsbury hosts an international Cartoon festival this month. Dave Hancock met two of the main draws... or should that be drawers?

Chris Ryder alleges she could draw before she could crawl. Her first spoken words were: "Where's the pencil sharpener?"
She says: "My dad is very creative and my grandfather was too. I was fascinated by faces and I started doing drawings of the family and then of pop stars from magazines.
"I did an advertising and design course on leaving school but then got sidetracked into secretarial work. Drawing was just a hobby for many years and I drew animals, people - all sorts of things.
"About this time, I wanted to get a degree and took an English Literature course at Westminster College, Oxford. I 'emerged' to become a teacher. My artist ambitions were put on hold but I continued to draw and did some painting. I did some children's books illustration and my drawing became more of a cartoon style.
"A friend, whose husband is a magician, ran an entertainment agency and she suggested I try drawing as a profession. She arranged for me to go to a sixth form ball in Cambridge and I had to draw caricatures of the students. I was thrown in at the deep end but seized the opportunity and became a part-time caricaturist while still working as a teacher.
"Eighteen months ago, I took the decision to go full-time and business has gone from strength to strength."
Chris now lives in Shropshire and is continuing to build her business - called Witty Pics. She works at weddings, balls, parties (including children's parties), corporate events and trade fairs. Her corporate client list is impressive: Procter & Gamble, Lloyds and Barclays banks, John Lewis, Birmingham City Council and Manchester City Football Club among many others.
Chris also does caricatures for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and other special occasions - they cost from as little as £25. She can draw from a photograph and is not confined to human subjects - she draws pets and other animals too.
Chris runs caricature workshops for adults and children and is planning a series of these in Shropshire later this year.
To put Chris to the test, so to speak, we went with her to RAF Cosford Museum where a number of the staff volunteered to be caricatured by Chris. You can see the results in the photographs although you'll have to take my word for it that Chris works impressively fast.
Actually, you can witness her speedy drawing and be caricatured by Chris by visiting the forthcoming Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival. She will be one of the caricaturists drawing in The Square, Shrewsbury, on 24 and 25 April from 11am to 4pm.
Caricatures by Chris Ryder
Tel: 01952 608655
www.wittypics.co.uk


Sub heading if needed: A Bright career move
Steve started his career as a cartoonist in 1977 when, as a nervous 18-year-old he joined Scottish publishing giants, D.C. Thomson & Co. Ltd, to begin 'a career in journalism'.
Putting his rejected application to Edinburgh College of Art firmly behind him, he arrived at Thomson's Dundee headquarters, wondering which of the publisher's prestigious newspaper titles he would be assigned to
Steve Bright's journalistic career had begun... he was to be office junior on...The Beano.
"Although this came as a considerable shock, it turned out to be the luckiest break of my life", says Steve. The next six years as a sub editor/scriptwriter of children's comics proved to be the best possible apprenticeship for the ensuing 25 years Steve has spent as a full time freelance cartoonist. Art college, he says, would have sucked his passion for drawing cartoons right out of him back in the 70s, whereas his early years with D.C. Thomson nurtured and honed it.
After 18 months of writing scripts and processing artwork for the likes of Billy Whizz and Biffo the Bear, Steve was moved to a 'think tank' office as part of a two-man team charged with creating a new comic. One year later, The Nutty was launched, featuring a comic superhero whose brawn far outweighed his brain, by the name of Bananaman. Steve's co-creation went on to be chosen to spearhead Thomson's first foray into TV animation, with his own series on the BBC. Over 20 years later, Steve finally squared the circle and took over the drawing of Bananaman, now in the Dandy comic following the demise of Nutty, and continued to write and draw his adventures on a weekly basis until 2006.
During his drawing career Steve has plied his trade for a wide variety of publications, drawing a multitude of different characters, caricatures and situations. He found work not only with his former employers in Dundee, but also with rival comic publishers IPC/Fleetway, and newspapers, writing and drawing the cover stories for The Funday Times, comic section of The Sunday Times. One of the most enjoyable periods was working for the Daily Record, producing a topical cartoon five-days-a-week.
These days Steve's home is a village not far from Oswestry, after moving to Shropshire in 2002.
Recent work has included the Dandy until two years ago, Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Roald Dahl magazines. He has diversified into new fields of cartooning, working on corporate logos and marketing illustration, as well as high quality caricature commissions, and the party 'speed caricature' circuit, where he is hired to perform at all manner of events from weddings to conferences, drawing lightning caricatures of the guests.
Steve often works alongside his partner, Samantha Emms, who has a degree in electronic media, and is a professional colourist, rendering much of Steve's artwork. "It works really well," he says. "Sam is an excellent colourist, and highly proficient with the computer packages available, using a graphics tablet and mouse pen. She works upstairs while I work downstairs, and we communicate by mobile phone and texts when necessary. The only time we ever come near to falling out is when we're negotiating whose turn it is to make the coffee. I seem to lose that one most of the time."
Steve, a member of the Professional Cartoonists' Organisation (PCO), is one of the team behind the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival. "It's grown year on year into a marvellous gathering of cartoonists and cartoon-related events and exhibitions. Everyone involved in its organisation works tirelessly to make it a weekend enjoyed by the Shropshire public, and equally by the hard working cartoonists who cheerfully (and we're not renowned for being cheerful) demonstrate our skills for all to see, whether it be painting giant cartoons on boards in The Square, or providing free caricatures of the patient public who come along to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.
"I have also taken part in the Cartoon Clinics over the past few festivals, where keen amateur cartoonists come along to ask advice of the professionals, and I've been amazed at the quality of work that we get presented with each year."
www.stevebrightcartoons.co.uk
Headline: Cartoon capers
Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival is a long weekend of cartooning activity on 23 to 26 April and features several cartoon art exhibitions. During the weekend more than 40 professional cartoonists from around the UK and overseas will converge on Shrewsbury to caricature and cartoon for the public. Exhibitions span the weekend, opening a week or two before and continuing for some time afterwards. Many of the cartoons and caricatures on exhibition will be for sale.
Highlights of the 2009 festival include exhibitions of work by political cartoonist, Steve Bell, and by eminent Czech cartoonist, Miroslav Bartak. There will also be an exhibition of cartoons about science from the year of Darwin's birth, 1809, to the present day. Cartoons by Kate Charlesworth, cartoonist for The New Scientist, will also be exhibited and a big hit of the Festival is always the themed selling exhibition of new work, originals and prints by festival cartoonists - Boffination sees cartoon artists from all over the UK and beyond interpreting the theme of the science of nature with their usual respect and reverence.
All events are free unless otherwise stated. For a full list of events and exhibitions and more information about Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival, call in at Shrewsbury Visitor Information Centre, Rowleys House, Barker Street, Shrewsbury, telephone 01743 281200 or go to www.shrewsburycartoonfestival.com

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