Doing a bit of writing at the Tate café on the Albert Dock in Liverpool. I played Baby Blue this weekend gone, five minutes walk from here and had a tough time on both nights. I went round the gallery for a look, and found a cracking piece called “United Kingdom”. It’s a map (I like maps) of England and Scotland with the two geographies swapped round so everything's in a different place and it looks odd but somehow logical. The name of the artist, Layla Curtis, rang a bell in my head. Can't be that many Layla's, and it turns out that it's a lass who I went to university with in Sunderland back in the day, sometime in the early nineties.

A quick google found her website, I fired off an email and got a response, we had a quick email chat and I got a bit nostalgic. It was her, she was living in London and was still in touch with a few guys I knew from the Art course, who are now working as working as proper artists, Wow. I sometimes forget how much I love and art making pictures. Actually no. I still do a bit of illustration and I love it. I'd like to have another go at becoming an artist, but the think I'm too commercially aware/corrupted to do proper art.

I think studying art at university is possibly where my attitude towards comedy has derived from. I presented stuff to the world on a wall and let it be judged. Some liked what I did, some didn’t and that’s fine. That’s a really broad metaphor. What’s the difference between an artist and an entertainer? I reckon one says ‘this is what I do’ and presents their view of the world in an reasonably uncompromising way, whereas the other adapts to the audience and in the moment. I know I’ve been guilty of the former, I think it come from a fear not wanting to be a comic who has stands on stage and prioritises what the audience want to hear over what they want to say. That’s not proper comedy to me. That's is probably why and don’t have a shiny face.

Check out my old uni mates websites and see their artwork:

and then there's me,

God bless you Charlie Holmes, wherever you are.

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A splash image from the Graphic novel I did as part of my final year at Sunderland University.

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A drunk chicken. Ink and brush. I'd like to think my linework is still this precise for a peice done on A4, but it's probably not.


John Cooper
Comedian & artist.
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