24 Satirical Illustrations of Modern Society

Satirical Illustrations of Modern Society

Nowadays, more and more people discuss the problem with today’s modern society and what is actually wrong with it. Technology lies at the core of the problem, and illustrators John Holcroft and Steve Cutts show that our modern society is more problematic than we initially believed. 

John Holcroft is a retro illustrator based in England who creates simple 50s-inspired art to illustrate serious subjects. You can see more of John Holcroft’s illustrations.

Steve Cutts is also an illustrator based in London, England, whose artwork focuses on satirizing modern excesses. His style of inspiration ranges from 1930s and 40s cartoons to modern comic books. If you want to see more, go to Steve Cutt’s page, Although on opposite ends stylistically, both artists successfully employ cutting, satirical messages in their work. With the current state of modern society, it’s no surprise these two artists are full of material.

This illustration by Steve Cutts depicts how scary the wrath of the internet can be. The person hanging onto the ledge, fearful of falling into the pit of monsters, conceptualizes how scared we are of feedback on the internet. Can you blame us? Negativity is everywhere!

John Holcroft perfectly depicts the end of literature by creating a book in the shape of a coffin. The genius touch in this image is the social media nails sealing the coffin shut. With our ability to find out information and share our own information online in an instant, Holcroft suggests the death of literature is imminent.

I think this image speaks for itself. Not only is the phone attached to the man’s head, suggesting we can no longer escape our phones, but the fact that it’s completely covering his face is symbolic of how our phones, and our online representation, have become so attached to our identity.

Another illustration from John Holcroft, this image is a perfect representation of the current state of our mother earth. With issues like climate change, pollution, and resource depletion becoming everyday concerns in modern society, Holcroft suggests this destruction will result in mother nature slipping right through the cracks of our fingers.
Who could forget the fad that was Pokemon GO? This app allowed 90s kids the opportunity to re-live the nostalgia and enticed millennials to join in with, what else, their phones. This illustration is a sad depiction by Cutts of cartoons experienced in modern society as people walked around head down, completely plugged in and “playing.”

With Apple products taking over, what was once known as a lowly fruit is now a multinational technology company. Holcroft illustrates this by showing the inside of the apple completely overrun by batteries and wires. This illustration can also be interpreted as an ode to technology as our new form of sustenance.

The idea that money can bring us happiness is a common perspective in a society run on consumerism. Cutts’ illustration uses the money in a mousetrap to show how easy it is to get caught in this way of thinking and die trying to obtain it, only to find out it was a trap.
A hot-button topic these days, Holcroft takes on the issue that is modern healthcare with this illustration. By depicting the doctor as a piggy bank, suggesting that the doctor runs on the money we feed him, shows the issues associated with privatized healthcare as opposed to universal healthcare.

The problem with social media is how much it can have an effect on our self-worth. Holcroft showcases this harsh reality by using the cereal box as Facebook, the “like button” as food or sustenance, and the bowl as our ego. Today, virtual acceptance seems to be our biggest source of validation.

In this sinister image of a pregnant female prisoner, the artist brings into question the current state of our justice system. It asks how a child can be expected to succeed when coming from such a dark and difficult beginning. The freedom of the child relies upon the freedom of its parent.

Holcroft tackles an important and controversial issue with ease in this illustration of several businesswomen held back by a pink ribbon, the pink coloring a symbol of femininity. The illustrator manages to capture gender inequality in the workplace by restraining the women while the businessmen continue to soar upward.
Holcroft offers a clever take on modern love with this chocolate box. Online dating has become a matter of pick-and-choose as we’re often left judging others just based on their dating profiles. Love has become an act of measuring people up based on their looks and a few sentences expected to summarize who the person is.

Cutts focuses on issues with technology in modern society by suggesting it has complete ownership over humans. The idea that the phone is the master taking the human out for a walk while using the thumbs up or “like” button from Facebook as a treat exemplifies how much control social media possesses.

Holcroft focuses on the issue of child rearing in this illustration of a child under restraint. The child holds a backpack, suggesting he’s on his way to school, while his parents ride the backpack and hold a leash. The image questions if parents are too involved and controlling of modern children’s education and choices.

What would we do if we weren’t able to send out that daily Tweet? Holcroft ponders the importance of Twitter by depicting it as an IV, suggesting we need it to survive. The girl in the image is younger, suggesting it’s the current generation that’s plagued with this issue. The image is symbolic of technology as our lifeline.

Cutts attacks the idea of modern life altogether with this soup can. The illustrator uses words such as “overrated,” “disillusionment,” and “disappointment” to describe today’s society, and calling it condensed and hugely undernourished suggests our lack of purpose. It could also be a criticism of the lack of healthy food choices in today’s supermarkets.

In this image, Cutts shows his take on the modern brain, completely hacked away with only branding and marketing left. As each person holds a chainsaw and cuts away another piece, they mark their brand further into the brain. This suggests our minds have been completely brainwashed and taken over by consumerism.

Holcroft offers his own take on consumerism with this depiction of a woman walking the streets of Paris. Shopping is a socially acceptable modern activity that has become almost habitual for many. The illustrator takes it one step further by suggesting she’s merely wearing a bar code, and there’s no individuality left to her outfit. She has become a product herself.

Cutts uses a cartoon panel here to describe the horrifying plague that is human beings. In this cartoon, the Earth asks the doctor for its diagnosis. The doctor then breaks the news that the Earth “has humans.” The Earth is visibly upset, indicating this isn’t a positive diagnosis and humans are to be feared.

Internet trolls, they’re everywhere! Always lurking and always ready to add a snarky or offensive comment. Holcroft tackles this modern term by giving it a literal form in this illustration. The image shows a man hiding under a “bridge” on his laptop with three humps on his back and a tail.

The modern toolkit. In the good old days, a person would wear a watch to tell the time, bring a ruler to measure something, or use a compass to figure out where to go. Today, with phones having a built-in GPS, calculators, and even the ability to measure our health, many of these tools have become obsolete.

Who needs a vacation when they have Facebook? Holcroft plays with the idea of social media as an escape by turning the Facebook logo into a pool. Although the man in the pool appears relaxed, it’s clear he won’t be for long with sharks lurking nearby. This is the modern form of escape.

It’s the zombie apocalypse! Never mind, it’s just a bunch of people possessed on their phones. This is modern society, according to Cutts, where everyone is the walking dead, unaware of their surroundings, completely invested in what’s happening behind their screens. Perhaps an over-exaggeration, but not a far cry from reality.

In this image, Cutts puts technology and “nature” together to depict the unfortunate reality of our modern environment. These days, our environment consists of a multitude of technology, from our phones to our computers, to our television screens. Cutts depicts technology as a wasteland pretending to be nature but lacking beauty.

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