Christian Adams was born in Warlingham, Surrey, on 10 June 1966. He later recalled that waiting for the weekly comic to be delivered to his house was "one of the most vivid memories I have from childhood", and that as he turned the pages he thought "that’s what I want to do one day." Adams was educated at Worth School from 1979 to 1984, and studied graphic design at Bristol Polytechnic from 1985 to 1989.
Adams began working as a cartoonist in 1987, and from 1994 to 2002 was staff Features Cartoonist at the London Evening Standard. "I worked in the same room as JAK at the Evening Standard for about ten years," he recalled, "and his lavish lunches were, to coin a phrase, legendary." Adams' drawings have also appeared in Observer, Money Week and Solicitors' Journal, and he has worked as a freelance illustrator for various PR companies. As a freelancer Adams noted in 1999 that "my hands are my most important asset - they are insured for £60,000."
Since 2005 Adams has worked in various sections of the Daily Telegraph, and is their regular Political Cartoonist on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. Adams hopes that his cartoons will make readers laugh and think, but acknowledges that "the main mission is, of course, to fill up 7 by 5 inches of newsprint (and its online twin)." In the mornings he listens to the news and reads the papers, selecting a significant story. “Sometimes an idea comes immediately,” he admits, “sometimes it takes hours, and occasionally, days”: “I still have no idea why this is. I’ll look back over stuff I’ve done and see no difference in quality (good or bad) in the ones that took ages and the ones that just came to me.”
Adams then produces about five roughs, which he shows to the paper's editor. He is happy to take advice. "A cartoonist needs an editor", he explains: "I sometimes think of five or six ideas for a cartoon, sometimes only one. But I always get advice from my editor. I may think an idea’s genius, but he’ll know it’s duff. However sniffy I feel about being told that I’m wrong, I cannot think of a day when he hasn’t, eventually, been proved right." Adams takes a very pragmatic approach to newspaper cartooning : "We are commercial artists: the Editor always has the last say."
Producing the final drawing takes Adams between one and three hours, depending on the amount of time remaining before the print deadline. "I draw with a nib and indian ink", he explains: "I then 'wash' with the same ink mixed with water, or, if colour, watercolour inks and water. Finally I scan it and touch up (erase mistakes, darken or lighten areas) on Photoshop." Then finally "off to the Production people, and it’s out of my hands."
In March 2012 Adams gave a list in his blog of “things I don't like to draw”:
1. Shoes (Much more mechanical than you'd think)
2. Horses (Weird legs)
3. Cars (Hate them. Can't drive)
4. "Normal" people (Because people ask "who's that meant to be?")
5. Detailed room backgrounds (Boring, and usually unnecessary)
6. Boris Johnson (Strange mix of jelly and straw. Bleugh)
7. Cars (Did I mention cars?)
8. The Houses of Parliament (Tedious architectural details)
9. Clouds (What am I, a painter?)
And in May 2012 he wrote about caricaturing David Cameron, George Osbourne and Nick Clegg - blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/christianadams/100063209/on-cartoon-caricaturing/
- Harriet Messenger "These Hands Were Made For Working", Evening Standard, 1 March 1999, p.4.
- Christian Adams' Cartoon blog at blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/author/christianadams/ [entries for 22 July and 3 November 2008; 26 August, 15 September, and 26 October 2009.]
- Christian Adams’ blog, 19 March 2012 - blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/christianadams/100061708/cartooning-things-i-dont-like-to-draw-and-things-i-do-like-to-draw/
- Christian Adams describes his working process at The Telegraph at blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/christianadams/100070577/video-how-a-cartoonist-works/