The cartoonist who’s drawing your attention to politics through punk

Steve Harley 2

Tunbridge Wells-based cartoonist Chris Burke, who was commissioned to do the Times‘ cartoon for its front page post the Brexit vote, has now been involved in another political piece – the new album artwork for local band Insane Society. Here, he tells us how he got involved in the project and why he believes the art of illustration will always be vital

I got involved with the artwork for the latest Insane Society album (Too Far Left To Be Right, Far Too Right To Be Wrong) because the band’s front man Paul (known as Wag) found me on the Professional Cartoonist Organisation website (PCO).

To his surprise, he found out I also lived in Tunbridge Wells, so he rang me and we got on straight away.

Paul wanted to do a political album cover with caricatures like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage and said that my particular style was just what he’d been looking for. Although it was Insane Society’s initial idea, they were more than happy for me to add some ideas and put my own style to it. This is my favourite way of working: A client’s idea of what they want to convey and my visual solution. Firstly, I did a rough of what I thought Paul was after, then I sent him a copy for approval before I inked it in.

I didn’t know the band up until then, but my 18-year-old son and I have been impressed with their music.
They sent us an advance copy and we played it twice in a row. It’s punk but it’s easy on the ear, full of soundbites and clever stuff with great lyrics, too.

In terms of how I describe my own work, I would say it was social and satirical as opposed to political. If you can draw caricatures you end up drawing everyone, including politicans!

I started as an Advertising Director then moved on to being an Editorial Illustrator, so I enjoy taking a piece of text or a problem and creating a visual solution.

I have been doing this for over 30 years now and consider myself to be an illustrator, artist and cartoonist.

The world of magazines and newspapers is really in a state of flux so us pencil squeezers have to find pastures new, but the main thing is I enjoy the variety that comes with what I do.

Last week I drew on the walls of Sopranos on the High Street; started illustrating a children’s book about a dancing mouse; finished drawing a piece on shoes for an Italian magazine; did a massive board for the first Hastings Cartoon Festival; and completed a picture of my barber Robert on Camden Road.

Have I ever worked with anyone famous? Well yes, I have done tour posters and children’s books with Lenny Henry, and also the album artwork for Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence with David Bowie. The likes of Richard Curtis, Joan Collins and Jeffrey Archer all have cariactures of themselves done by me – probably hanging up in their loos!

I would rather paint musicians over politicans, so it wouldn’t be Trump it would be Dylan for me.

Find out more about Chris Burke at

And visit for details on their latest album

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