Donald Sanger: Steak

Work / Illustration

Donald Sanger illustrates a grotesque and humorous version of humanity

Consumption, greed, overindulgence and the fast food chain; these are a few of many themes that you could pull from Donald Sanger’s Mucky illustrations. More often than not, people try to look for a story in these drawings when in fact there isn’t one. “There is no real agenda to my drawings, other than to make myself and (a few) others laugh” says Donald. “It’s like operant conditioning with Skinner’s rats. You do some thing, it gets a laugh, you do it again. And again…”

“I think in some of my pictures the people seem to be victims of an unfortunate circumstance,” Donald tells It’s Nice That. Filled to the brim with miniature big people being pan-fried by a giant, sizzling over barbecues, seasoned to perfection or enjoying some down-time at a pool party, these images are hilariously grotesque and depict the strangest of scenarios. A reoccurring motif seems to be the perception of obesity and its leverage into the spotlight as a ‘big’, monstrous and all-absorbing aspect of humanity. “I don’t wholly see obesity like that. Sure, some people are the product of indulgence and some are the unfortunate product of a medical condition. I don’t judge necessarily but I do get angry when I see parents feeding their children a load of shit that will make them unhealthy.”

His process is straightforward and starts with a hand-drawn picture, scanned and then filled in using Photoshop. Some could say there’s a slight Chris Simpson influence here and, as a new fan of his work, Donald’s uncomplicated and somewhat innocent approach to illustration does share a few similarities. “I actually just discovered Chris Simpson’s Instagram. I really like it,” says Donald. “My brain likes simple, block colours. I am always drawn to working with no shading and have gone for that with my own pictures. Simple pictures like this have an innocence which clashes pleasingly with not-so-innocent subject matters.” 

Mucky was a series of drawings that began as just that: “with most of the pictures being a bit sexy in nature,” says Donald. “I guess they aren’t as sex-related recently, but nudity is generally involved. I suppose ‘silly/funny’ would be a more appropriate title.” What’s interesting about his work is this comparison between the Mucky and his more Arty illustrations. As seen in the other depths of his portfolio, there are these large-scale and up-close versions of his work that presents a more abstract view of his world. “The Arty pictures have a similar theme in that they show a ‘larger’ human frame, and the images are often cropped to hint at the human form. I like the way Gary Hume does this; with an image of the human body, we know what is out of frame if an image is cropped which gives the brain something to finish off. If there’s no chance it’s going to make you laugh, it’s ‘arty’.”

With plans to turn the “Jesus vibrator picture into the real thing”, Donald has a some ideas in the pipeline to progress his ghastly-yet-vividly entertaining illustrations into other mediums. “One plan is to write and illustrate a children’s book about the meaning of life. It will talk about what it means to be alive and human, the incredible unlikeliness that we even exist and how ultimately there is no meaning to life and how you have to make your own meaning. I might have to do this under a pseudonym.”


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Donald Sanger: Costume


Donald Sanger: Glory Colour


Donald Sanger: Grate


Donald Sanger: Hot Dog


Donald Sanger: Jesus


Donald Sanger: Dinner


Donald Sanger: Nutri


Donald Sanger: Call Girl


Donald Sanger: Sex Doll


Donald Sanger: Shop Mobility


Donald Sanger: Chess


Donald Sanger: Soda


Donald Sanger: Sweets


Donald Sanger: Life Drawing


Donald Sanger: Pepsi


Donald Sanger: Pool Side


Donald Sanger: Pork


Donald Sanger: Sushi