4.1 World Affairs: Brexit Beets


Working with a contemporary news event, create an illustration that comments on it from a satirical perspective. Think about how you structure this image. What information do you need to give the viewer in order for them to understand the context in which this image should be read? In other words, how do you connect your image to your chosen event? Think about how you use symbolism and metaphor in the image.

Use caricature to help you identify who’s in your illustration. You may want to use collage to do this or work with your drawing skills.

Test out your illustrations on somebody else. Did they understand what you were trying to do? You may want to modify your approach if they’re struggling to connect with your work, or consider adding in a caption or dialogue through speech bubbles. This might help provide more context to your work and refer to specific comments or quotations.

 You might want to take a lead from William Hogarth, James Gillray or George Cruikshank on this, either by using well-established metaphors or making the connection between the contemporary and historical moment. If you decide to do this, don’t forget to cite them.

Brexit Beets: the images so far

For this project I had many ideas – political and social satire is an area of illustration I would very much like to develop. I very much admire the work by contemporary  political satirists  like Steve Bell and Martin Rowson. But I want to develop a style drawing more on the simplified social satire of David Shrigley and the playful collage of Sarah Fanelli.

The images below used comic beetroot prints on a cartoon-like solid background. But I still need to think my style through a lot more, improve my Photoshop skills for Graphic Design (so far I have mainly used Photoshop for photography and photomontage and Procreate on my iPad for illustration) probably combining with Illustrator. I also need to think more about the typography. Possibly, drawing on Sarah Fanelli, I could print the images out on an appropriate type of paper (need to think what) and collage on. Thinking also whether or not I want drop shadows etc. Basically I need to mull over the style much more now I have some basic ideas. And test with other people.

But I quite like this idea – maybe ‘the Beets’ could develop beyond just Brexit, and bring in also other vegetables, for a much wider range of satirical topics.

Image development

For my final assignment for Book Design 1 ‘A to Z from Armageddon’ Letter B  I had experimented with printing with vegetables on different types of paper, particularly Beetroot (See Beetroot Tales) . I found the random effects of printing particularly with beetroot and the different-shaped squished circle bodies and heads and one-eyed faces it made intriguing.  Just through altering the relative position of different print shapes I could see different narratives. Printing on the side made ears. I also took photos of broccoli and bread and butter. For the Book Design project I had combined these with other elements into a digital image, but I knew I wanted to look into this method in more depth as a possible cartoon approach.  

Then as part of the general election campaign in May/June the whole discussion of the effects of the Brexit vote on agriculture on seasonal migrant labour became a hot topic. Particularly in East Anglia and Lincolnshire where there was a paradox between the very strong vote for Brexit, than now the realisation that very many agricultural businesses will completely collapse because there is no one to pick the crops. There is low unemployment and local people just simply are not interested in seasonal low paid work. The only alternative is more mechanisation but currently the technology is only just beginning to be developed.

This seemed to be a very fertile role for my vegetable prints to inject humour into making a point. 

Some early ideas: Feminism

I had started reading and thinking about this project in November 2016 because it is an area of illustration that interests me a lot. I had originally planned to focus on international development issues around gender – an area that is central to my professional consultancy work. At the time there was a lot of controversy about the UN appointment of WonderWoman as UN Ambassador for women and there was even a glossy book of all the Wonderwoman cartoons produced for sale over Xmas. I envisaged doing some sort of collage like the work of Hannah Hoch with cartoon characters.


  • Bare breasted Ethiopian woman with child on her back and doing lots of chores has Wonderwoman flying in to help. Husband looking on and ogling.
  • Wonderwoman standing in front of a very large powerful Africa woman trader.
  • Wonderwoman flying into a muslim household where the girl is telling her father she wants to be an army general (as in the AlJazeera Afghanistan story)
  • UN men choosing Wonderwoman from a lineup

Cartoon ad promotion

UN presentation on appointment and women’s human rights



UN News Centre


But by the time I came to work on the project in May/June, Wonderwoman had already been dropped.

I thought of adapting some of these ideas with a cartoon style to the more current controversy over the UK Aid budget spending on the Ethiopia Girl Band. But again this issue came and went around the general election.

This highlighted for me the extreme rapidity with which this type of work has to be done and completed – though it is also important do develop underlying ideas and styles that can be adapted as new issues arise.