Peter Schrank was born in St Gallen, Switzerland, on 23 September 1952. Educated at Basel Art School from 1973 to 1977, he came to London in 1981. His first cartoon was published in Time Out in October 1981, and he subsequently worked for the Sunday Business Post from 1989, Basler Zeitung from 1993, and the Independent and Independent on Sunday from 1995. Schrank is often asked for the original cartoons by the politicians who feature in them, but, as he admitted in 1998, "I always feel that if the subject wants a copy, then you haven't been doing your job properly."
Schrank has also contributed to New Statesman, Times Supplements and other publications, and from 1995 to 1996 was resident commentator on the week's cartoons for the cable and satellite TV station European Business News. He is currently (2010) political cartoonist for The Independent on Sunday, Basler Zeitung (Switzerland) and the Sunday Business Post (Ireland), as well as being a regular contributor to The Economist and The Independent.
Schrank cites his influences as Saul Steinberg and Tomi Ungerer, and his favoured medium is pen, brush and ink - "with a little bit of help from an airbrush." In October 2000 he won the UN's Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Award, for a cartoon contrasting the coverage given to the young Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez, with the unreported deaths of children in the Ethiopian famine. In January 2014 a cartoon of his in The Economist, showing President Obama hindered by Congress from reaching an agreement with Iran, was withdrawn from the magazine's website. Schrank had added stars of David to the Congressional Seal, and it was withdrawn after protests "that the cartoon implied that Jews controlled congress".
According to John Walsh, "Schrank displays a Euro-Gothic approach to drawing, full of drama, spikiness and darkness": "He is superb at conveying secrecy, guilt, and Kafka-esque atmospheres of threat." Asked in 2003 how he dealt with a recurring story - such as the relationship between Tony Blair and George Bush - Schrank said that "the more you look at it the more intricacies you find": "It's like the blues - there may be only three chords, but there are endless variations. It's the weeks when no story dominates that can be tricky."
- Tobias Jones "A rare sighting", Independent, 14 June 1998, p.28.
- Independent on Sunday, 29 October 2000, p.5, "Our Cartoonist Schrank wins top UN Prize."
- Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), p.199.
- Simon O'Hagan "A cartoonist plays only a few chords", Independent on Sunday, 19 January 2003, p.25.
- John Walsh “They're masters of the art”, Independent Media Weekly, 11 December 2006.
- Peter Schrank's website at www.schrankartoons.com
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