An Interview with Christian McPherson

Questions by Shallom Johnson, Art Editor

How long have you been drawing this series of Demented Doodles? How has the project changed or developed over time?

I am now 52 years old. I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. I did cartoons for my high school paper. I have been drawing my whole life but only in little spurts from year to year.

Demented Doodles began in the first week on the pandemic back in March of 2020. I started doing a drawing a day for over a year. Then it got a little spotty. But I have been fairly consistent with it, for the most part. For a while I felt obliged to do it. Now it’s just for me.

Where do you find inspiration for your visual art? 

Other artists. Growing up, I had books by M. C. Escher, Van Gogh, Tomi Ungerer, Patrick Lane, Ralph Steadman, and a bunch of other artists and cartoonists. My father ran an art gallery so I was exposed to tons of art. Also consuming LSD, mushrooms and smoking dope – not that I engage in these activities, at least not in many years. 

What draws you to pen and ink drawings as a medium?

I love it so much. There is something electric when I put the pen on the page. It’s like a current is flowing through me connecting me to the page. I don’t get the same thing with painting. Plus there is a kind of Zen elegance to just black and white. It’s clean. And I don’t pencil first, I just ink. If I make a mistake I start over. 

Who are your biggest artistic influences?

The Far Side, Mad Magazine, Tomi Ungerer, Patrick Lane, Ralph Steadman, Rick Griffin, Gahan Wilson, and The New Yorker. 

At first viewing, these two pieces present as abstract masses of line and shape. With a closer look, we see that interesting characters are packed tightly into almost every nook and cranny. Can you describe the process of building these drawings on the page? Where do your characters come from?

I started drawing this type of thing in high school but got way better at it when I was in university. I sometimes plan them with a theme. Sometimes I will start with a central character and then add and build around it. They grow organically. I often take long pauses and look at the space I am working with and “figure out” what should go there. I look at the shape of a line and think of what it could be – almost like looking at clouds. So I see it, then I draw it. They are fun to make but often very time consuming. 

You’ve mentioned in the past that your principal fault is your sense of humor. How do you see that sense of humor manifest through your Demented Doodles?

I hope my drawings amuse people. For these type of drawings I also hope to amaze – “Oh, wait it’s actually an alien! And that’s a person with 3 heads.” And so on. Some of my drawings have been very political. Others, not so much. 

You have a well-established body of work as a literary writer, with 12 published books including poetry, short stories, and fiction. How do your drawings relate to your writing practice?

Actually it’s only ten books and one anthology – ha. Well they don’t relate until this year. See the next question. 

Any plans to blend these two worlds together in the future?

Glad you asked. So this year, 2023, my current publisher, At Bay Press, out of Winnipeg Manitoba, is going to be releasing my 11th book, 6th collection of poetry with the working title of, “Standing, Screaming Obscenities at the Sky.”  I have given them close to 400 doodles to work with. I don’t know what exactly what it’s going to look like but I believe it’s going to be amazing and fun. 

Where can our readers view more Demented Doodles? 

This is my Facebook Page where you can find everything. I’m also on Instagram.

Anything else you’d like to mention that we haven’t asked about?

I am really into movies and have a blog for that.

Christian McPherson is a poet, novelist, and cartoonist. He lives in Ottawa Canada. He has written a bunch of books including, The Cube People, Saving Her, and My Life in Pictures. His latest book of poetry is, Walking on the Beaches of Temporal Candy.

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