British Cartoon Archive


John Springs was born in Chapeltown, Leeds, on 6 February 1962, the son of a Latvian garage owner. After school in Yorkshire, he studied art and drama at Park Lane College, Leeds, before becoming a full-time caricaturist and painter.

His first drawing was published in Arab Times in 1978, when he was eighteen. Since 1980 Springs has contributed to the Spectator - including covers - and his work has also appeared in Literary Review, Tatler, Sunday Times Magazine, Melbourne Age, Listener, Harpers & Queen, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, New Yorker, Independent Magazine, GQ, Times Saturday Review, Esquire, Observer Magazine, Women's Quarterly, New Republic and other publications. Since 1989 he has illustrated "Man in the News" for the Financial Times and from 1992 to 1997 he was resident caricaturist on BBC TV's Newsnight.

Springs uses a fine-nib pen with elaborate cross-hatching and sometimes also works in watercolour, gouache and oil paint. "I like a good black and white photograph of my subject", he explained in 1989, "lit from above if possible so that it shows off every line and blemish on the face": "Then I always start on the left eye and work my way down and around the nose until I finish up on the right eye - by this time I know if I have captured the likeness or not."

Springs lists his influences as US illustrator Steve Ditko, William Coldstream, Levine, Rowlandson and Max Beerbohm. His paintings - portraits and landscapes - include a "romantic and allegorical" mural painted for Rules Restaurant, Covent Garden, London. Entitled "The Thatcher Years", it shows Margaret Thatcher as Joan of Arc, celebrating her victory in the Falklands.

  • Peter Maddocks Caricature and the Cartoonist (Elm Tree Books, London, 1989), "Springs."
  • Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), p.212.
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