Sometimes I create cartoon sketches outside the formal bounds of a contract or a commission, such as for friends, work colleagues or family members for example. In my earlier years drawing cartoons professionally I also donated a lot of cartoons to non-profit organisations, usually for environmental education.
I don't consider these cartoons to be my best work, but some of them come with an interesting story, process or anecdote, so it's worth giving them a click to find out what they are hiding!
The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) Drylands magazine "Haramata" commissioned a cartoon to illustrate an article about cattle traders’ use of mobile phones in the remote borderlands of northern Kenya. These devices enable the traders to communicate and settle monetary transactions with buyers and dealers in Nairobi without having to risk making unsavoury encounters with bandits patrolling the main highways.
"This is really nice and thanks for the good job."
H.A. Mahmoud, Department of Geography, Egerton University, Njoro, Kenya
"Many thanks Alan - it looks really good in colour - I love the humour!"
N. Kenton, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, UK
"We have just received your CD and looked at the images, they are fantastic! All the images are great, we are really pleased with them, thank you so much! They illustrate the story perfectly, they could not be better. Thanks for all the hard work."
V. Smith, Orangutan Foundation UK
These sketches below served to liven up the invitations to the otherwise very formal 20th anniversary reception of Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation and Research Unit (WildCRU). The drawings reflect (somewhat liberally perhaps) a few of WildCRU's active projects at the time.
A number of years ago, my brother Larry owned a printing business, of which the shop was a busy, bustling space. One year he asked me to do a christmas card for his clients. I'm afraid I let my eye for humour get the better of me and I may have exaggerated a little, though the two versions below are based on my personal experience working there.
Process note: here again the sparse use of colour enabled me to both satisfy the client while also stay within my time / effort budget. These two cartoons also reveal one of my greatest life-long cartoonist influences: the hugely popular and prolific Daily Express cartoonist Carl Giles (1916 - 1995).
These silly cartoons of my very good friend Lucho Jammes, bush pilot, artist, author, father of four, poet and founder of the Armonía Association (BirdLife International partner in Bolivia) were literally done on the back of a napkin. Probably while watching him struggle to beat me at chess. Bolivia 2006.
The above are among the first cartoons I did for a nature conservation institution or project. These sketches were included in the members' bulletin, Guajojó, of the Asociación Armonía (BirdLife International, Bolivia). 2005.
I literally sketched this on a piece of note paper sitting on a log in our muddy camp in the middle of the Amazon forest of Bolivia. The scene depicts with some accuracy the team members of the Nottingham University Bolivia Expedition 1992. I graduated from that university that year, and I managed to wrangle my way into joining the said expedition. Those 3 months in the tropical jungle changed the course of my life, propelling me into a career in conservation.