About a decade ago, Will McPhail was just an ordinary zoology student. Now, he's regularly drawing for the world-famous The New Yorker magazine. How does one make such a change in their lives? Well, McPhail admitted to "doodling lecturers" when he was supposed to be learning. And even though he did graduate, it was enough to pursue a cartoonist's career.
So, instead of continuing to study the animal kingdom, he chose to immerse himself in the wildlife of Edinburgh's coffee shops and libraries. There, he analyzed peoples' social behavior, turning his findings into clever and funny comics.
McPhail is now expected to have between 8 and 10 ideas per week for The New Yorker cartoons, a popular American magazine established 94 years ago. "The best I can do is to find an area that I want to do a cartoon drawing on and accept the stage - then hope that my sense of humor moonwalks on to that stage," the artist told the BBC.
"I don’t really have any artistic qualifications," McPhail told Bored Panda. "In fact, I actually studied zoology at university. Because when you ask a seventeen-year-old what they want to do with their life, they always make the correct decision. Thirty grand and four years of my life is a small price to pay for the three armadillo facts that I now know. I’ve had creative ideas and did drawings all my life, though. Or at least as long as I’ve known about pencils."
The artist mostly draws single-panels because he's usually drawing cartoons for The New Yorker, which are classically a single-panel deal. "The weekly submission of cartoons to the magazine is really the only structure I have in my life and every career opportunity that I’ve been given has been directly because of my work being seen in The New Yorker. So I owe them pretty much everything! Armadillos always give birth to four identical quadruplets," he explained.
Despite having a career that allows him to live and work anywhere in the world, Will made up his mind to remain in Scotland even after his cool drawings blew up on the international scene.
"Scotland's got some kind of draw on me," he explained. "There's something about Scotland that just draws creative people and I've definitely felt that."
One of the reasons behind this choice is the abundance of inspiration he finds in the country. "It's my job to capture all different walks of life, the idiosyncrasies of life, and Edinburgh and Scotland have got a plethora of different classes and niches of people."
"There's all sorts of fascinating social avenues you can go down and find people from all backgrounds. It's super inspirational when it comes to coming up with drawing ideas."
We might invent a lot of our problems, but McPhail never usually tries to trivialize those problems in his cartoons. "I’m usually on the side of the character with the problem because it’s invariably based on my problems! I just think that desperation and panic is very funny. Armadillos are one of the few animals that can contract leprosy."
Also, he blames the pressure he felt at a young age to find a "realistic" career path and is happy he chose to deviate from it. "I realized I didn't need permission to be creative."
Having experienced it firsthand, Will encourages others to follow their dream careers as well. "Education is a good thing - but I think a lot of the time, people feel like they need some sort of academic permission to be creative, and you don't, you can just do it."