By Kendall Yan
VANCOUVER — Behind the poignant and acerbic cynicism of Jaik Olsen’s satirical illustrations lies the sweet heart of a bitter pup jaded by a dissatisfaction with everyday life. A self-described “recluse,” Olsen operates under the moniker Puppyteeth, and his bark (which can now be heard as a voice over at Vice) is worse than his bite. I’d venture to say he’d only draw blood if you asked but I wouldn’t know for sure, we only had coffee while he spilled the T.
After having two cups of coffee without eating I was jittery, unfocused, and anxiety ridden, but when I sat down with Olsen I felt immediately at ease as he began to articulately express his own shortcomings. “It’s a coping thing for me,” he explains, removing his magenta satin windbreaker, “I’m cynical and jaded, I’m a failure at relationships, I’m a failure in a lot of respects and I respond to that by making fun of it. A lot of my drawings are about aspects of my persona and it’s nice that people can laugh along with me or resonate with the way I feel. It’s cathartic to have people relate to them.”
Olsen has a cartoon strip in BeatRoute called Pidgeys in the back of each print issue. “The conversations from those strips I’ve plucked from conversations between Millennials talking about things like how they gave the rest of their drug money to a cute boy who’s now ignoring them, or whether they’re in an open relationship or not.” The genius of Pidgeys, along with most of Puppyteeth’s catalogue, is their virtue as Millennial archetypes. We’re all the Pidgeys, and by seeing that we can have a big schadenfreude at each other and have a little cry for ourselves.
Olsen might not want me to tell you this, but he’s not as hopeless as he makes himself out to be. In fact, that’s what draws us to his art: the candid expression of malaise that so many of us harbour in our daily interactions bears witness to our own discontent. Despite his depressed daddy exterior and his rejection of happiness, his puppydog eyes betray him as a gentle artist fuelled by a state of unrest. “I just hate small talk,” he says. “And I don’t want to seem rude to people, but my life is just a series of interactions I don’t want to have.” But I mean, whose isn’t?BC, British Columbia, Jaik Olsen, Puppyteeth