I started out as a cartoonist, appearing regularly in The Sydney Morning Herald, but also in The Australian Financial Review, The Australian, The Bulletin and a whole bunch of other publications, and in lots of languages, around the world.
My illustrations and cartoons have appeared in more than a hundred books.
In 1991, I was the president of The Australian Black and White Artists Club (now known as the Australian Cartoonists Association). I’ve taught cartooning to thousands of people of all ages, in schools and seminars around Australia and have appeared on television, spoken on radio and appeared in many newspaper articles in my capacity as a cartoonist.
I’ve won awards for my cartoons and 3D illustrations. I’ve also served as a judge in major cartooning awards (not in the competitions I won because that would be cheating) and was once even selected as one of Australia’s most eligible bachelors in a top-selling Australian women’s magazine (Cleo).
But cartooning is quite difficult and so by the mid 1990s I was tired and cranky and flat broke and properly burnt out. I didn’t figure I could write jokes for a living forever, so I looked around me at the newspaper and saw my friends doing really cool stuff on computers, making fancy graphics. That looked like fun. So I saved up and bought a computer for home, plus a licence for some illustration software and I taught myself how to do computer graphics. With the 2000 Sydney Olympics on the way I figured I could talk my way into a full time job at the paper helping with all the graphics work that would bring.
So it turns out my employer at the paper had other ideas. “Go and take a damn holiday,’ he said. Like I could actually afford to take a holiday. “Computers are complicated. Stick to cartooning.” So after ten years of drawing cartoons at that paper I quit. Had no choice, really. I couldn’t afford to live on what they paid me and the cartooning muscle in my brain was burnt to a crisp and no longer functioning. Being burnt out is quite bad because it makes it almost impossible to think of ideas and facing a morning of cartooning work becomes as enjoyable as facing a morning of root canal dental work. So I walked across town and talked my way into the job I had wanted, but at the rival paper. It meant giving up the cartooning, which was fine by me and my charred cartooning muscle. And yes, the computer stuff was complicated but I didn’t mind that. My “complicated” 3D graphic images went on to help my new employer win some highly prestigious awards.
So I did that new gig — graphics and design — for 15 years. Then left that job too, to escape the big city and move to a nice country place, where I went back to drawing some cartoons again. This time they were political cartoons, because it seemed to me that all the newspapers in Australia were pushing the same tired narrative all the time — a narrative that gave enormous prominence to anyone who didn’t believe climate science and had their own hair-brained ideas about it, and relentless attacks on any politician with a plan for climate action. So I figured the national conversation needed another opinion, even if it was only a little voice like mine. I started self-publishing onto Facebook and Twitter and then soon picked up regular exposure with the lovely folks at Independent Australia. The exposure that the social media alone brings me sometimes adds up to almost a million readers in a week. That’s not enough to decide elections like Rupert Murdoch and his mainstream media does but it’s cool to see anyway.
While all this was going on, one thing I quite enjoyed was photography.
I now spend a lot of time with my digital camera (SLR and then later moving into mirrorless), especially when it involves pointing it at critters. Like the cartoons, my photos appear all over the place. Well, mainly in Australia but also internationally — in books, magazines, websites, on telly and even in museums.
I personally think the complicated nature of cameras acts as a barrier that stops people enjoying them or using them to even a fraction of their potential. That’s why I’ve been writing my beginners’ guides to digital SLR photography. Because I think once you get past all that technical stuff there’s a lot of fun to be had and a lot of critters to point a lens at.
My proudest moment was being photographed juggling three tennis balls while sailing a windsurfer.
I live with my girlfriend in rural Queensland, Australia — writing and illustrating, and selling photos of wildlife and cartooning.