Wednesday, 20 August 2014 20:00

A travelling cartoonist notes

Many blogs have been written about travel, but perhaps only a minority see travel through the eyes of a cartoonist. As a globetrotting cartoonist, I have found the ability to draw a quick cartoon - which can be learned like any other skill - has opened many doors to me around the world.


I’ve discovered that the difficulty of expressing myself in Chinese or Portuguese for example, can be fairly easily overcome in those countries by penning a quick cartoon to indicate what I require. A simple sketch can speak a universal language that is understood by everyone and often produces a smile as well. I once needed a dentist in Hanoi, but no-one I met spoke English.

A quick sketch on my part of a funny cartoon face with a throbbing tooth helped me get directions to an English-speaking dental practice in that city. It also produced hoots of laughter. Feel free to view my travel cartoons.

At other times when travelling, the ability to produce a funny doodle has paid off handsomely. To pass the time on a long haul flight recently, I noticed that the airline hostess was working extremely hard dishing out the package meals.

So I drew a very quick cartoon of her balancing a dozen meals at once ! I gave this to her, and it seemed to be well received. She soon returned and delivered a free bottle of champagne to my seat!

Dining out as a travelling cartoonist can produce its rewards as well. Anyone who has been to the United States will have noticed the emphasis that the Americans put on tipping. I’m more than happy to give a tip, but often my travel budget has been near rock bottom when the gratuity is required.

I’ve found in these circumstances that a lightning cartoon of the waitress or waiter, drawn by myself on a coaster or throwaway menu can more than suffice for the more customary tip. In one case, they liked it so much that the entire bill was waived!

As I live in Australia, I have often travelled through the outback in this part of the world. An on-the-spot cartoon has often been good for a free beer at an outback pub, and in one case led to a commission to paint a mural in the isolated town of Winton Queensland.

The commission was especially handy because it paid for some much-needed mechanical repairs to my campervan at that time! Feel free to view my cartoons depicting my impressions of Australian outback humour.

I’ve found being an on-the-move cartoonist to be a rewarding and fulfilling occupation - not only for the occasional freebie that it generates, but also for the chance to produce an instant giggle by means of a quick cartoon. They say that a smile is worth a thousand words - as a travelling cartoonist I can certainly agree with that.

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