Illustrators lead peaceful response to Brussels attacks

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Brussels terror attacks illustration response Tintin

Artists, designers and illustrators have responded to the latest terror attacks in Brussels by posting drawings on Instagram and Twitter under tags including #JeSuisBruxelles, #JeSuisBelge and #PrayforBrussels.

A photo posted by Baudry Herve (@baudry.herve) on

The images started to appear on social media hours after the twin explosions at Zaventem airport and another explosion at Maelbeek metro station yesterday. More than 30 people are thought to have died in the attacks, and dozens injured.

A photo posted by Sam Peet (@sp_illustration) on

More illustrations have appeared today, including drawings of iconic Belgian cartoon character Tintin and various versions of Brussel's Manneken Pis statue of a little boy peeing on bombs and guns under the tag #pisandlove.

Illustrations shared on social media are increasingly becoming a focus for peaceful responses to terror attacks.



An image by designer and director Jean Jullien that turned the Eiffel Tower into a peace sign became a symbol of unity following the Paris attacks in November 2015.

A photo posted by Mazel Galerie (@mazelgalerie) on

Another drawing by Jullien, featuring a pencil plugging the barrel of a gun, also led the responses to the attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January last year.

A photo posted by Nardo Ferrer Torres (@narduo) on

The Charlie Hebdo attacks had particular resonance with editorial illustrators, after a number of cartoonists were killed. The #JeSuisBruxelles tag was born out of the #JeSuisCharlie created in the aftermath of that attack.

Among the #JeSuisBruxelles and #Belgium images are a recreation of the Belgian flag in Pantone swatches by Italian illustrator and graphic designer Margherita Urbani, a picture of Tintin's silhouette in black on a red background with a yellow tear by Montreal art director Sylvain Grand'Maison, and an image of the Mannekin Pis curled up with its head in its arms by Spanish illustrator Nardo Ferrer Torres aka Narduo.

A photo posted by C. (@clemilicious) on

Other images included the iconic Atomium building, a relic of the 1958 Brussels Expo designed by engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak.

A photo posted by Le Monde (@lemondefr) on

But other terror attacks, like those in Istanbul last week, have not perceived to have attracted the same response – a fact that was reflected today in the posting of altered versions of an image by French illustrator Plantu of the French and Belgian flags crying.

The illustration was originally posted by French newspaper Le Monde and has become one of the most shared following the attacks, but a number of Instagram users have also been uploading doctored versions of the image to include the Turkish flag.

A photo posted by BIG HUGS by CDR (@cdrbighug) on

US illustrator Christopher David Ryan initially posted an image of the three colours of the Belgian flag hugging each other, but followed this with an drawing of the crescent moon and star of the Turkish flag also hugging.

  • G

    We need something more than Instagram illustrations and cheap likes to understand, mourn and reflect on such tragedies.

    • scotsims

      They merely communicate horror or sadness or outrage – symbol. Like flowers left at the sites of murder, a memoriam.

  • :(

    Terrorist attack + illustrators + Instagram = guaranteed media exposure for illustrators.

  • Kay

    Illustrations on Instagram reduce atrocities to a like. I feel uncomfortable with it all.

    • scotsims

      Don’t look at them and go on by.

      • Kay

        I’m not offended by them, I just think a deeper response is required to comprehend things such as this. As it is at the moment it’s becoming dangerously close to a macabre piece of entertainment.

        • scotsims

          But it’s always like this. A symbol of sympathy. What matters is that we don’t let them control and change our lives, they’ve won if we do.

  • James Hunt

    They seem to be lying in wait.

  • scotsims

    Great advertisement Pantone.

  • Nicholas Tesdorf

    These sort of fatuous, smug, self-serving cartoons, slogans and the like serve no purpose in preventing further outrages and deaths. In fact they deflect people, like a drug does, from actually tackling the underlying problems.

  • RANK. FRANK

    I’m afraid I see holding hands , dropping a bunch of flowers or a cute cartoon as a crass, weak, wishy washy response to an inflicted tragedy . A much stronger preventative stance must be taken or our world will be overrun by evil.

  • keggin88

    Captions count momentarily, illustrations can convey meaning as well as a deft poem. Do not dismiss the illustrator as a Capitalist pig. Holding words to a higher regard is ignorant. Ignorant seems a harsh word, but respect for a sorrowful heart should not be so easily dismissed.

  • CJ

    I get the feeling people criticising illustrators for alluding to tragedies would be at least as critical if they just kept on releasing illustrations with no mention of the tragedy.

    What *is* an acceptable way to mourn? There’s so much criticism about doing it the wrong way, but no one seems to have any feedback about what the “right way” is.