Cartoonist Ian Baker showcases his work back home

ExhibitionIan Baker, one of Britain’s best loved cartoonists, has brought his work back home to show Sheffield his global skills.

Famous for his celebrity caricatures and gag cartoons, Ian, from Sheffield, is showcasing some of his most loved work across four venues, including the Showroom Cinema, the Workstation, the Rutland Arms, and the Red Deer.

His illustrations are known across the world after being published in Private Eye, Nickelodeon, The Spectator, People magazine, and hundreds more.

The Showroom Cinema, on Paternoster Row, has hosted nine of Ian’s caricatures, including local film star Sean Bean, Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David and Cheryl Hines, and movie character Austin Powers. The exhibition also features Blofeld, part of his now infamous James Bond collection.

Ian Baker, aged 41, said: “I nearly got in to trouble with an American literary agent after MGM studios threatened to sue me. I’d started to draw characters from the James Bond films, and was posting them on different sites on the internet, where one of the producers saw them. They told me I had no right to draw them, but my solicitor explained there isn’t a law saying I can’t. They soon backed down.

“It made a minor news story, which made the drawings popular, and they have become the biggest sellers of my work. I’ve made the decision to make a substantial collection of over sixty James Bond drawings, and I keep getting requests for more characters.”

The Workstation and the Red Deer are also showcasing Ian’s celebrity caricatures, as well as selection of gag cartoons. The Rutland Arms is purely his James Bond collection, which are also scattered in the other three venues.

“These exhibitions have been great. I’ve drawn about 9000 gag cartoons, so it’s given me the chance to show off some of my older work which hasn’t been published, but stuff which I like and are proud of.”

Ian was first published in 1985, aged just 15, when he and school friend, Mike Gorman, produced a book titled Professor Pickle and the Amazing Jelly Machine for the Education Authority. He then spent the next four years studying graphic design at Norton College before beginning work as a freelance.

His professional debut was in 1990 when his gag cartoons were featured in Squib magazine. There were only six issues, but he got to work along side Monty Python’s Terry Jones, and the author of the Adrian Mole books, Sue Townsend.

In the late 1990s Ian became the first British cartoonist to be published in the American Reader’s Digest. “I was spending time in New York working for Nickelodeon, Cracked and Penthouse, and I knew people at the Reader’s Digest. I contacted the editor, who was familiar with my work through the British version, and was offered a job. Out of all my work this has had the biggest circulation, and has a readership of about eighty million.”

Ian’s work has also been seen on Calendar news’ sport section, in advertisements for William Hill and Phillips, and in national newspapers. He has also been an illustrator and gag writer for a number of greeting card companies. 

Recently, he’s started to make a move into comedy writing, and wrote for the final series of ITV’s Hale and Pace. He also has his first book, The Codger’s Kama Sutra, coming out in September. “It’s a comedy book which basically makes fun of the Kama Sutra.

“It’s the first time I’ll be classed as an author, and is something I want to do more of. Cartoons don’t have the same longevity as a book does.”

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By Phil Corker

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About Philip Corker

Journalist, Musician, and Blogger
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