Roger Law

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Roger Law speaking at the TYPO Berlin conference in 2014

Roger Law (born 6 September 1941, in Littleport, Cambridgeshire), is a British caricaturist, ceramist and one half of Luck and Flaw (with Peter Fluck), creators of the popular satirical TV puppet show Spitting Image. Roger Law was a pioneer in bringing political caricatures from newspapers and magazines to television. In 2020 Roger Law was executive producer on the new series of Spitting Image made with Avalon Productions and streamed on Britbox.

Early life and education[edit]

Law went to Littleport Secondary Modern School in Littleport, Cambridgeshire, and attended Cambridge School of Art (now part of Anglia Ruskin University). He met Peter Fluck during his time there.[1]

Career[edit]

Early work[edit]

In 1960 whilst Roger was at Cambridge School of Art he was made art director of the university magazine, Granta. That same year, Roger was also published by East Anglian Magazine.  After graduating from Cambridge School of Art, Law started his career working in print, namely magazines. By 1963, Law was creating a weekly cartoon with Peter Cook for The Observer, a short-lived venture aptly named ‘Almost the end’. At the same time, Law was also doing a 14 ft long weekly cartoon strip for The Establishment Club, a nightclub opened by Peter Cook in Soho. The Establishment Club has since been named as a pivotal meeting spot for the British satirical movement in the 1960s.

In 1966 Law worked as a freelance caricaturist and illustrator for The Sunday Times. During this time he made his first 3D caricature model for Nova Magazine which won a D&AD silver award. That same year Law also worked on album covers for The Who, The Who Sell Out and Jimi Hendrix's Axis Bold as Love. Law is also said to have made a brief appearance in The Who's music video for "Happy Jack".

In 1967 Law moved to the United States and took up residence at Reed College, Portland. Whilst in the US Law worked on his first film featuring puppets, called The Milkman. The Milkman dystopian-satirical look at American capitalism and the technology that surrounded it. The film was awarded Rockefeller grant. Law also freelanced for Esquire and Newsweek.

After a brief stint working in New York at Push Pin Studios with Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast, Law returned to the UK in 1969 to be a features editor at The Sunday Times Magazine. When Rupert Murdoch bought The Times and The Sunday Times in 1975, Law left the magazine and formed a partnership with Peter Fluck, a group which became Luck & Flaw. Together they made 3D caricature models for magazine covers worldwide, including The New York Times Magazine, Der Spiegel, Stern and The Economist & Radio Times. The pair also did visual satire over several pages for the National Lampoon. The piece on the common market was sold to every European country. In 1979 Luck & Flaw illustrated Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, published by Viking.

Law and Fluck also created caricature ceramics, featuring British politicians including Margaret Thatcher and members of the British royal family. In 1980 the BBC's Arena made an arts documentary on Luck and Flaw called The Luck and Flaw Show.

Spitting Image[edit]

In 1981 Law and Fluck made a plan to transfer political caricatures to television, which was funded by Martin Lambie-Nairn. Two years later the pilot for Spitting Image was shot. On 26 February 1984, the first episode of Spitting Image was transmitted on ITV for Central Independent Television. This was the first series of 18. In 1985 Spitting Image created puppets for two shows called ‘Michael Nesmith’s Television Parts’ for NBC Network TV, USA. In 1986, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by the pair, was published by Faber & Faber.

Arena made another two specials about Spitting Image, The Spitting Image Factory, where Law and Fluck toured the workshop where the show was produced. Also in 1985, they made another documentary with Arena called Luck and Flaw's Guide to Caricature.

In 1986 a song by Spitting Image, "The Chicken Song" topped the UK hit parade for three weeks. Under Law's creative eye the Spitting Image workshop produced merchandise alongside the show, notably rubber dog chews called 'Pet Hates' with the slogan ‘Throw a politician to your dog’. Spitting Image also released many popular books, such as The Appallingly Disrespectful Spitting Image Book and The Spitting Image Giant Komic Book. The Spitting Image workshop also created the puppets for the music video "Land of Confusion" by Genesis. The same year, Spitting Image published a book titled Tooth and Claw: Inside Story of "Spitting Image". This book gave an insight into working at the Spitting Image workshop and was mainly visual. In 1990 Spitting Image brought out ‘The Real Maggie Memoirs’ and Law published his first book, ‘A Nasty Piece of Work’, written in collaboration with Lewis Chester.

The Alliance Graphic International (AGI) elected Law as a member in 1993.

By 1994 Spitting Image had been franchised in countries such as Japan, Czech Republic, Portugal, Greece, Hungary, Germany and Russia. That same year Law worked on a new puppet TV film Peter and the Wolf: A Prokofiev Fantasy. It was the musical tale of Peter and the Wolf brought to life by puppets and human characters in a fairy tale world. The film was narrated by Sting and conducted by Claudio Abbado. Peter and the Wolf was the first-ever international co-production. In 1995 Law and Spitting Image funded a short animated film called The Big Story made by David Stoten and Timothy Watts, which was then nominated for an Academy Award (Oscar) and a BAFTA award.

The last series of Spitting Image was aired in 1996. The first online sale of the Spitting Image puppets was organised in 2000 by Kerry Taylor of Sotheby’s. The second sale was just a year later and hosted at Olympia. In 2018 Cambridge University Library accepted the Spitting Image Archive.

In September 2019 Spitting Image was confirmed to be returning twenty-three years after it was last aired. Avalon Productions produced the ten shows with Roger's as Exec Producer alongside Jeff Westbrook, Richard Allen-Turner, Joanna Beresford, and Jon Thoday. The first show was premiered on Britbox in the UK in the Autumn of 2020. The shows were also aired globally on separate platforms. Avalon has confirmed another ten shows to be aired in 2021.

The second series of Spitting Image aired in 2021, with Law being credited as executive producer.

Later career[edit]

From 1996 to 1997 Crapston Villas, which was produced in the Spitting Image workshop and studio, was aired. It was a stop-motion animation featuring a set of characters, living in a grim apartment building in the fictional London postcode of SE69, who were plagued by various dilemmas.

Roger then moved to Australia as an artist in residence at the National Art School in Sydney. That same year he was made a fellow of the International Specialised Skills Foundation in Australia. In 1999 Roger was made a member of The Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry (RDI).

In 2000 Roger was an artist in residence at Dartington pottery in Devon, UK. Roger also had three exhibitions Risk Takers and Pioneers,  Aussie Stuff-Way Beyond the Black Stump and The Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2000. In that same year Roger was also presented an award from the University of Leicester's Political Studies Association on their 50th Anniversary 1950 – 2000

In 2005 Roger's second book, a semi-autobiography, Still Spitting at Sixty was published by Harper Collins with chapters on his Australian travels. Law also worked in Jingdezhen, China producing large carved ceramics. The Sladmore Gallery in London now sells Law's ceramics. Law then moved back to the UK in 2012.

Inspiration[edit]

Whilst Roger was at Art school Paul Hogarth, one of his tutors, showed him the French magazine, L’Assiette au Buerre. Roger has stated many times that the drawings and attitudes of the magazine were a great inspiration. L’assiette au Buerre was illustrated front to back with cartoons or caricatures with only a short satirical caption written at the bottom of each page. The magazine challenged social norms and commented on problems of the period but had no clear political alliance.

During Roger's early career whilst working closely with Peter Cook at The Observer and The Establishment Club he met many satirists including Lenny Bruce, such meetings gave him his first steps to use his drawing skills for satire. He quotes

“Only those who attempt the absurd are capable of achieving the impossible.”

Roger has always cited that the ‘family friendly’ puppet show Punch and Judy was a great inspiration when working on Spitting Image, they both pushed boundaries. The idea that you can have extreme violence, murder, and infanticide yet is still funny and even enjoyed by children was, retrospectively, his first step in creating the grotesque Spitting Image style.  

Roger has stated that his mentor was Paul Hogarth was a huge inspiration. Hogarth was an English artist and illustrator. Best known for his travel drawings that he made for Graham Greene's books, Robert Graves books and the Irish playwright Brendan Bingham.

The Fen's where Roger Law was born was outlaw territory until comparatively recently and anti-establishment attitudes still linger on. Roger feels growing up around people who had less of a desire to follow the rules gave him licence to break them throughout his career.

Personal life[edit]

He married Deidre Amsden (a quilt designer) in 1960 in Cambridge. They have a son (born 1962) and daughter (born 1965).

Television[edit]

Spitting Image

Series Year Dates No. episodes Times
Series 1 1984 26 February – 17 June 12 episodes Mostly 10 pm
Series 2 1985 6 January – 24 March 11 episodes Mostly 10 pm
Series 3 1986 6 January – 2 November 17 episodes Mostly 10 pm
Series 4 1987 1 November – 6 December 6 episodes Mostly 10 pm
Series 5 1988 6 November – 11 December 6 episodes Mostly 10 pm
Series 6 1989 11 June – 9 July 5 episodes Mostly 9.30 pm
Series 7 1989 12 November – 17 December 6 episodes Mostly 10.05 pm
Series 8 1990 13 May – 24 June 6 episodes Mostly 10.05 pm
Series 9 1990 11 November – 16 December 6 episodes Mostly 10.05 pm
Series 10 1991 14 April – 19 May 6 episodes Mostly 10.05 pm
Series 11 1991 10 November – 15 December 6 episodes Mostly 10.05 pm
Series 12 1992 12 April – 17 May 6 episodes Mostly 10.05 pm
Series 13 1992 4 October – 8 November 6 episodes 10.05 pm
Series 14 1993 16 May – 20 June 6 episodes 10.45 pm
Series 15 1993 7 November – 12 December 6 episodes 10pm
Series 16 1994 1 May – 5 June 6 episodes 10pm
Series 17 1994 6 November – 18 December 7 episodes 10pm
Series 18 1996 14 January – 18 February

Spitting Image Specials

Title Year Date Times Duration
Down And Out in the White House 1986 14 September 9.45 pm 45 minutes
The Spitting Image 1987 Movie Awards 1987 Saturday 4 April 10.45 pm 30 minutes
Election Special 1987 Thursday 11 June 10pm 45 minutes
A Non-Denominational Spitting Image Holiday Special 1987 27 December 10pm 30 minutes
The Ronnie And Nancy Show 1988 17 April 9.30 pm 30 minutes
Bumbledown – The Life and Times of Ronald Reagan 1988 Saturday 29 October 10.15 pm 45 minutes
The Sound Of Maggie 1989 Saturday 6 May 10.10 pm 45 minutes
Election Special 1992 Wednesday 8 April 10.40 pm 30 minutes
The Spitting Image Pantomime 1993 26 December 10pm 30 minutes
Ye Olde Spitting Image 1995 1 January 10.45 pm 30 minutes
Best Ever Spitting Image 2006 25 June 10pm 47 minutes
Spitting Image at 30 2014 25 February 9 pm 45 minutes
Year TV Show Channel Production Company
1980 Luck & Flaw (BBC arts documentary) BBC Arena
1987 Luck & Flaw’s History of Caricature.

(BBC Omnibus television arts documentary)

BBC BBC - Omnibus
1996 -1997 ‘Crapston Villas’ Channel 4 Produced by Richard Bennett, Sarah Ann Kennedy and Spitting Image Productions
1988 Two BBC Arena specials BBC Arena
1988 Arena
1997 Strip Show (animated pilot) Channel 4
1997 60 Minutes
2006 Best Ever Spitting Image ITV
2010 Rude Britannia BBC
2012 A Law Unto Himself Australian Broadcasting Corporation
2014 Whatever Happened to Spitting Image? BBC 4 Arena
2014 Carved, Drawn and Quartered BBC 4
2014 Genesis: Together & Apart (or Genesis: Sum of the Parts) BBC 2
2016 The Janice Forsyth Show BBC Scotland
2020 Spitting Image – Series One Britbox Avalon
2021 Spitting Image – Series Two Britbox Avalon

Film[edit]

Year Film Director(s) Producer(s)
1967 The Milkman
1993 Peter & The Wolf Steve Bendelack, Roger Law & Christopher Swann
1995 The Big Story Tim Watts and David Stoten Spitting Image Productions
1997 Krazy Kat
1999 Pot Shots
1999 Periwig Maker Steffen Schäffler Annette Schäffler

Radio[edit]

Show Episodes Date First Aired Broadcaster Producer
Nasty, Brutish and Short – The History of Mr Punch 1 episode(s) 1997 BBC Radio 4
Art Made in China 5 episode(s) 4 February 2008 BBC Radio 4 Mark Rickards
Museum of Curiosity Took part in episode 31 May at 12 noon 2008 BBC Radio 4
Spitting Images 1 episode(s) 1 February 2009 BBC Radio 4 Mark Rickards
Arts, Classical and Jazz zone 1 episode(s) 07/05/2009 BBC Radio Scotland Mark Rickards
Whatever Happened to the Teapots? 1 episode(s) 9 November 2009 BBC Radio 4 Mark Rickards
Spitting In Russian 1 episode(s) 1 January 2010 BBC Radio 4 Mark Rickards
The Secrets of the Art and the Artist: Caravaggio  3 episode(s) 14 March 2010 BBC Radio 4 Mark Rickards
I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Into Here 5 episode(s) 23 November 2010 BBC Radio 4 Mark Rickards
Archive on 4 - Satire: The Great British Tradition 1 episode(s) Saturday 8 May 2010 BBC Radio 4
The New Silk Road with Roger Law 1 episode(s) 29 July 2011 BBC Radio 4 Mark Rickards
Roger's Rabbits 1 episode(s) 29 October 2011 BBC Radio 4 Mark Rickards
Midday with Margaret Throsby Tuesday 15 May 2012 ABC Classic FM Radio
Roger Law and the Chinese Curiosities 2 Seasons

5 episode(s) in each

2 July 2012 (Season 1) BBC Radio 4 Mark Rickards
Seriously - South Africa Spits Back 1 episode(s) 30 March 2013 BBC Radio 4
Wow! How Did They Do That? 5 episode(s) 12 August 2013 BBC Radio 4 Mark Rickards
Private Passions 1 episode(s) 9 November 2014 BBC Radio 3
Roger Law: Art and Seoul 5 episode(s) 21-25 December 2015 (Season 2) BBC Radio 4 Mark Rickards
Roger Law and The Giant Pot 1 episode(s) Tue 22 August 2017 BBC Radio 4 Mark Rickards

Books[edit]

Title Date Published By Roger Credit Author
A Christmas Carol 1979 Viking Roger Law and Peter Fluck Illustrated Charles Dickens
The Appallingly Disrespectful Spitting Image Book 1985 FABER & FABER Spitting Image
Treasure Island 1986 Faber & Faber Editor, Illustrator Robert Louis Stevenson
The Spitting Image Giant Komic Book 1988 PYRAMID BOOKS Nick Newman
Spitting Images 1987 Century Created by Fluck & Law
A Nasty Piece of Work 1992 Booth-Clibborn Editions Roger Law (Lew Chester)
Thatcha The Real Maggie Memoirs Margret Thatcher 1993 Octopus, Hamlyn Spitting Image
Still Spitting at Sixty: From the 60s to My Sixties, A Sort of Autobiography 2005 HarperCollins UK Author Roger Law
AGI: Graphic Design Since 1950 2007 Thames and Hudson Contributor Ben & Elly Bos
The QI Annual 2007 Faber and Faber Drawings -  Roger Law’s China John Lloyd
The QI Annual 2008 Faber and Faber Illustrations for Which Ancient Chinese Fool Are You? John Lloyd
The QI Annual 2009 Faber and Faber Illustrations for QI’s A to Z of Gods, Oh My Gods! `John Lloyd
The Illustration Idea Book 2018 Laurence King Publishing Contributor by Steven Heller and Gail Anderson,

Exhibitions[edit]

Date Year Show Gallery Location
N/A 1986 The Mrs Thatcher Teapot and the Reagan Coffee Pot The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery Ceramic Collection.
13 August -18 October N/A The Cutting Edge, Barbican Art Gallery London
N/A N/A Seven Deadly Sins (purchased by the V&A for their collection also by The British Council for their collection). Victoria and Albert Museum London
N/A 1995 Teapot Mania, touring exhibition.   Norwich Castle Museum, (teapot now in the Castle Museum Ceramic Collection). Norfolk
May/July 1995 Making Sense Exeter City Museums and Art Gallery
25 June  - 13 July 1996 Modern Antiques, exhibition with Janice Tchalenko. Richard Dennis Gallery, London
1997 Time for Tea International travelling exhibition The British Council
23 April - 5 May 1999 Exhibited in the National Art School Ceramics Staff Exhibition. Mura Clay Gallery. Newtown, Sydney
24 October - 25 November 2000 Way Beyond the Black Stump (Exhibition and catalogue of watercolours, brush drawings, prints, ceramics and bronzes) Rebecca Hossack Gallery London
2000 Risk Takers and Pioneers Centenary Gallery Camberwell, London
Summer 2000 The Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition The Royal Academy of Arts Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD
5-28 April 2005 The Land of Oz. The Fine Art Society, New Bond Street, London, UK.
17 June – 3 July 2005 Plates Painted at Dartington,
Unknown 2006 Cover Story – The Art and Photojournalism of the Sunday Times Magazine, exhibition The Gin House London.
4 August – 3 September. 2006 Cicada Press Exhibition of Prints. Marianne Newman Gallery Crows Nest, Sydney
7 – 23 September 2006 Prints from Cicada Press. Michael Nagy Fine Art Gallery Woollahra, Sydney
Unknown 2007 Prints from Cicada Press. Marianne Newman Gallery Crows Nest, Sydney
Unknown 2007 Prints from Cicada Press, Michael Nagy Fine Art Gallery Sydney
Unknown 2007 The Annual Jingdezhen Ceramics Fair International Exhibition. N/A Jingdezhen, China.  
Unknown 2007 Christmas Ceramics, a group exhibition, The Fine Art Society, London.
April 2008 Between the Flags. Prints from Cicada Press. Orange, New South Wales.
4 September – 17 October. 2008 Drawn Encounters The Gallery at Wimbledon London
20 October – 3 November. 2008 Anglia Ruskin University 150: A Pictorial History – Past and Present on the Cambridge Site. Anglia Ruskin University Library. Cambridge
Unknown 2008 Prints made with Cicada Press The Print Collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Unknown 2010 The Really, Really Rude Show. Andrew Edmunds  Print Shop, Lexington Street, London.
18 October 2011 – 8 January 2012. 2010–11 Private Eye: The First 50 Years Victoria & Albert Museum London
4 November 2011 – March 2012, 2011–12 Porcelain City: Jingdezhen, exhibition the Victoria & Albert Museum London
Private view 18 January 2012, exhibition continued until 11 February 2012. 2012 Funding the Future (exhibition and auction) Contemporary Ceramics Centre London
1 February – 8 April. 2012 Her Maj, 60 Years of Unofficial Portraits of the Queen, Cartoon Museum London
Australia 15–20 May 2012 Travelling Light (Solo exhibition) Mary Place Gallery Paddington, Sydney
2 August – 3 November 2013 Cover Story: Radio Times at 90 (exhibition of Radio Times covers) Museum of London
26 February – 8 June. 2014 Spitting Image, From Start to Finish Cartoon Museum London
30 October – 15 November. 2014 Roger Law (solo exhibition) Sladmore Contemporary Bruton Place, London
London 8–11 May 2015 Collect, Sladmore Contemporary Crafts Council, The Saatchi Gallery. London
5–12 December 2015 Wells Art for Wells Charities, Gallery Plus Norfolk
30 November – 23 December. 2016 Transported, Roger Law & Stephen Bird The Scottish Gallery Edinburgh
28 January – 4 March. 2017 Black & White Oxford Ceramics Oxford
3 May – 3 June. 2017 175 Years of Art The Scottish Gallery Edinburgh
6 December to January 2018. 2017–18 Roger Law Ceramics, Sladmore Contemporary London
19 November to April 2018. 2018 Satire to Ceramics Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts Norwich
29 March (opened) 2019 Laughing Matters: The State of a Nation, The Victoria & Albert Museum. London
4 June 2019 Daylight Rubbery The Political Cartoon Gallery & Café Putney, London
8-23 June 2019 Birds, (exhibition inspired by birds) Fen Ditton Gallery Cambridge
14-22 September 2019 Modern Art for Modern Living Fen Ditton Gallery Cambridge

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Year Nominated Work Category Result
Golden Rose of Montreux 1985 Spitting Image - win
Broadcasting Guild award 1985 Spitting Image
Nominated for BAFTA Award 1985 Spitting Image VTR Editors Loss
International Emmy 1986 Spitting Image Outstanding popular arts Won
Nominated for BAFTA 1986 Spitting Image Light Entertainment
Golden Gate Awards, San Francisco, USA 1988 X2 Won
Bronze Lion Award 1988
D&AD Award 1989 Spitting Image Television and cinema graphics
Special Mention in Television Queen Award 1989 Spitting Image
International Film and TV Award, New York, USA. 1989 Spitting Image
17th International Emmy nomination 1989 Spitting Image
Gold Medal, New York Film & TV Festival. 1991 Spitting Image
Nominated for a BAFTA Award 1992 Spitting Image Light Entertainment.
Broadcast Awards 1996 Crapston Villas, Best New Programme.

Music awards[edit]

Award Year Nominated Work Category Result
BPI Platinum Disc Spitting Image's Chicken Song
Six MTV award nominations 1987 Land of Confusion, Genesis music video
Grammy Award 1987 Land of Confusion, Genesis music video
Diamond Award 1987 Land of Confusion, Genesis music video Best Storyboard, Best Video and Best Group Video.

Film[edit]

Award Year Nominated Work Category
Best Animated Production, TV Movie Awards, New Jersey, USA. 1991 Best Animated Production
International Emmy 1994 Puppet film Peter and the Wolf, Music and Arts Award
Nominated for American Academy Award (OSCAR) 1995 The Big Story
Nominated BAFTA Award 1995 The Big Story

Design awards[edit]

Award Year Nominated Work Category
D&AD Award 1966 Nova Magazine 3D caricature illustration
Award for Consistent Excellence, Association of Illustrators 1983
Lifetime Achievement Award, Cartoon Art Trust, London, UK 1998
Award presented to Roger Law by the Political Studies Association Awards on their 50th Anniversary 2000
Oldie Puppeteer of the Year 2020

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Roger Law". Lambiek.net. Retrieved 31 December 2020.

External links[edit]