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Now for something completely useless

Many people wouldn’t want their art to be called absurd and useless. But that’s how Ottawa’s Mark Adshead classifies his work.

Many people wouldn’t want their art to be called absurd and useless. But that’s how Ottawa’s Mark Adshead classifies his work.

“I do surreal humour and absurd humour,” he said. “I define myself as an absurdist. And there’s an appeal in something that’s useless.”

After 40 years of drawing in Ottawa, Adshead is releasing his long-awaited first book of art — A Totally Useless Book but Absolutely Essential for the Person Who Has Everything — at a combined launch and gallery showing of his work at Trio Lounge tonight.

He gets his ideas for his drawings, which depict plays on words, including “bi-polar bear” and “pi in the sky,” through everyday life, he said.

“There are two ways to see the world — logically and absurdly,” said Adshead, “and I tend to see it more absurdly.”

Adshead adds that there are pros and cons to this: While he can be “my best audience,” other times, it’s an obsession.

The Ottawa artist, who started out in photography, came to the city to work with the National Film Board. While they were interested in his work, he struck out on his own, becoming one of the pioneer “funny card” designers for Hallmark Cards.

After years of people encouraging him to put out a book, he has, and it’s been a dream come true, he said.

 
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