Originally featured in Issue 4
So what made you want to venture into a creative career?
I’ve always drawn, but when I started high school I had a teacher who showed me what I could do with it. He mentioned being a political cartoonist, working on comic books or animation. I job shadowed a political cartoonist and I didn’t like it, so I went to Vancouver for two summers and took some animation classes. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to go back and do it full time.
I decided to start animating from home. I thought I’d try to get some jobs and found one doing a quick little drawing for a school and thought, “Hey I could actually do this.”
So the leap from animation to doing what you’re doing now is pretty recent then?
Yeah, I only started selling prints three years ago. It started with sharing a booth with a coworker at a comic convention in Calgary. I went down there with four prints and some business cards and I didn’t really have any expectations. I figured I’d just see what happened. When I sold the first one, I thought, “Oh my God, here we go. This is it. I can do this!”
What inspires your subject matter?
A while ago I started a blog as a visual diary. So if my wrists hurt that day, I would draw a picture of my hand going through a meat grinder, and on the other end would be this chopped liver hand. I had fun and that’s where I’d get ideas. Now I think more about what will catch people’s interest, and it helps me focus.
In the spring at a comic convention I brought one print of a jelly doughnut changing its tampon and the guy I was sharing the table with asked me not to put it out. So I thought maybe it was a little too crazy, and because I was sharing the booth with him I understood why he wouldn’t want it out. But there was a point in the convention when it started slowing down and I was rearranging prints, so I decided I’d display it. Lo and behold, someone came by, laughed and bought it. That print is on its second run now, and I just sold one to a family with three kids at the Edmonton Comic Convention. The mother came back on the second day still laughing.
I don’t think I’ll ever lose that weird humour, but I could see if I had kids, maybe I wouldn’t want them to see that kind of stuff. I don’t normally feel awkward, but when a kid walks up and asks his mom, “What is that?” that’s when life can get a bit strange. But I hope it doesn’t change.
Has that changed your perspective of what you think the average person’s artistic taste is?
Yeah, now I have to step it up. The next one has to be stranger. I have some that are funny but kind of gross and I would love to get them into people’s homes. I want to keep doing the gross ones and eventually have a show… basically a shit show of bathroom prints and weird, over the top stuff. I was never working towards that, but now I feel like I am, which is really sad [laughs].
Do people ever get offended by your work?
Oh yeah, some people get very offended. They’ll make sounds then walk off, or look at me, disgusted, and walk away. It’s usually the kids who like it and the parents will see it and have to explain to the child, “Why yes that bunny is sitting on a pile of poo”, or they’ll just cover their eyes and drag them away.
To be honest, I get more awkward when people like it. It’s weird to be standing across from my work at a show and watch people look at it. I think, “Well they’ve been staring at that for a couple minutes now. What are they thinking? Should I go up and say something?” It’s weird, but I’m gaining confidence.
Who are some of your creative influences?
In the beginning my influences were more scratchy drawings— that Ren and Stimpy, Spunko, Saturday morning cartoon style. And Basil Overton, an artist that drew a lot of strange faces…so over the top. Also, Ralph Steadman, that whole gonzo style with Hunter S. Thompson. I love the energy of his work. There’s always a market for the weird stuff.
Do you digitally paint most of your pieces?
Yeah, and that’s one of the reasons I started taking oil painting classes— I wanted to get better. I like having everything outlined, but I can’t really get into galleries with prints. If I put a print up, I’d rather have an original on the wall. The oil painting classes were great; I’d never done it before and I was better than I thought I’d be. But I can’t paint what I draw, so that’s why I try and keep coming back to both— to get better.
How would you describe Edmonton’s art scene?
I’d say it’s pretty good, I mean, it’s given me a chance [laughs]. Art Walk blows me away. It’s so great to see so many artists out there and so many people actually buying art. When I got a chance to sit down and sell stuff I couldn’t believe there were that many Edmontonians who cared.
Any upcoming projects?
Well I’m putting out an illustrated book of poetry and once that’s done I’m going to put out an art book. And my Tits in a Cone drawing is being made into a figurine and painted to match the prints. I’m kind of working towards having 12 of my prints being made into these figures. I don’t have any crazy goals; I just want to have more fun.