A lot of your cartoons explore a connection between a funny or familiar scene and the technology (AI or surveillance, for example) that’s slowly consuming our lives. Can you talk about that?
Attempting to translate my cartoons from English to German has also led me to think about captions, language and humour in new ways
Yes, technology is definitely a recurring theme in my work, and I think there are a couple reasons why. For one, I’ve done a lot of cartooning for publications that deal specifically with these themes. My first real gig as a gag cartoonist, over ten years ago now, happened to be for a news site called Internet Evolution.
I also have a bit of a dark perspective on – as you remarked – the all-consuming quality of digital everything, as well as the scary power of digital marketing, and the loss of privacy concerning both. Not to mention AI. Jokes inspired by these topics seem to resonate with everyone, which just goes to show how technology has, in many ways, become the air we breathe.
What’s the hardest thing for you to draw?
I would say… people. Or particularly people in motion, holding or interacting with objects, especially drawn in perspective, in relation to other objects and people in a room. For some reason, I often get stuck on people’s elbows. Also chairs with people sitting in them, in perspective!
You were previously based in New York. What’s it like to come to Berlin and draw from here? Has it changed your process or your images?
Good question! Well, I’ve only been in Berlin since the summer, but in preparation, I’ve been learning German for two and a half years. Reading cartoons from German humour magazines Eulenspiegel and Titanic, and online at Toonpool.com, has definitely had an influence on me already. There are differences in humour and drawing style, compared to The New Yorker, which for a long time has been my main influence. Now I find myself approaching cartoons in new ways.
I have my own secret caption written by the time the drawing is finished.
Attempting to translate my cartoons from English to German has also led me to think about captions, language and humour in new ways. Not everything is easy or even possible to translate, but in a few cases, the process of translation has led me to a better caption, or a new idea. I’m really curious to see how using both languages, and publishing in both places, will continue to have an impact on my work, and what being in Berlin will inspire.
When you do a cartoon for a caption contest, do you have your own caption in mind?
Yes! [Often] I do have my own secret caption written by the time the drawing is finished. I’m curious to see if people submit captions that are similar to what I had in mind, and also excited to read captions that are entirely different.
Last month, as part of an exhibit, I ran a cartoon caption contest at Helmut gallery in Leipzig. The range of interpretations in people’s submissions was beyond what I expected, and a lot of them were extremely funny.