Today the cartoon style inspires many contemporary artists and has become associated with graffiti and comics.
Andrew McAttee works in an animated cartoon style. Andrew studied at Central St. Martins and graffitied on the street as a younger artist. The combination of these two worlds is evident in his highly refined style, which exists at the intersection of Pop Art and Street Art.
Graffiti appears to have inspired the sense of immediacy in Andrew’s work, created with spray paint and worked directly onto the print. Yet the sleek finish and bold lines demonstrate a fine art and Pop Art influence.
The word cartoon comes from the Italian word cartone; meaning a large sheet of paper or card. A cartoon was originally a full-scale preparatory drawing that artists created for a fresco, oil painting or tapestry, which was then copied onto a wall or canvas.
Today, cartoons are considered a type of illustration which is closely related to comics and political satire. They can also be animated.
Cartoons are typically not intended to be realistic, allowing space for artistic freedom of imagination or exaggeration. This lends the medium well to posters or political propaganda. One of the first examples of this was during the 1789 French Revolution, where cartoons were used for satirical propaganda.
During the 1877 American Civil War, cartoons were also popular. Thomas Nast is a well-known cartoonist from this period who used the medium to support the cause of the Union and oppose slavery. His cartoons were highly impactful and are still remembered today in the iconography of the Democratic donkey and Republican elephant, which he popularised.
Theodor Seuss Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss, was another well-known cartoonist. He too produced political work but is most remembered for his illustrated children’s books.
While illustrated cartoons remain popular, the invention of animation was highly influential. Machines that made images appear to move were first invented during the Industrial Revolution between 1600-1877. In 1900, the first film to display an animated sequence was released, called The Enchanted Drawing.
Walt Disney became fascinated with this new phenomenon and in 1928 released the first animated sound cartoon, Mickey Mouse. This led to the ‘Golden Age of American Animation’ from 1930-1950.