EXCLUSIVE: Interview with cartoonist and illustrator Maria Boyle aka Twisteddoodles

The comedic illustrator found viral fame when one of her creations was picked up by "Room To Improve" host

Chances are you've seen one her illustrations and laughed at, but we were lucky enough to have a quick sit down chat with the lady behind your daily online giggle, Maria Boyle aka Twisteddoodles.
 
Hi Maria, how're you keeping?
 
Hi! I'm good, how are you? You're looking well. Is this how I'm meant to answer this? Or do I actually say that I'm tired, I think default parenting state is tired but after a while you don't say it because you look it. No one says 'Hey are you ok? You look tired' because this is how I always look now. I look tired but I'd like to think I make that look chic. Oh, I should mention I have 8 month old twin girls, they're great, they're the reason I can now end all my emails with 'concerned parent'. 
 
First of all, congrats on your illustrations, which are constantly going viral.
 
Ah now, not constantly, you make it sound like I'm drawing an epidemic. 'I'm sorry but the cat cartoon has gone viral, oh God, now it's airborne.' Some of the drawings have gotten around, which is nice, I've had some translated into Polish, Spanish and Arabic which makes me feel both proud and more high brow than I am. 
 
Probably the biggest recently has been the Room To Improve one, which actually got read out by the host of the show! How surreal was that for you?
 
That was really odd, I drew it after watching an episode and didn't think it would take off like it did. The production company said they wanted to show it to him and I was all 'TELL ME IF HE LIKES IT PLEASE!' so they made a video of him reading it. And he liked it. Although after that he did at least two interviews where they showed him the cartoon again and pretty much said 'Have you seen this Dermot?' I'd say by the end he was all 'YES I HAVE SEEN IT!' while at the same time crushing a coffee cup in his hand.  But, yes that whole thing was lovely.
 

 
When you're approaching your illustrations, how many of your ideas make it to the page, as opposed to just staying in your brain?
 
Oh, this is very time dependent. Sometimes I get an idea fully formed and I think 'I HAVE TO DRAW THIS RIGHT AWAY'. I'm not very good with holding onto ideas that I want to draw and then I think 'maybe I should hold onto this and release it on some sort of schedule' but I don't, I draw things then shove them up on the internet. The possible advantage to my cartoons is the fact that I don't stick to a topic, I've drawn things about culture, food, science, parenting, love and things about Ireland. The possible disadvantage to this is trying to explain what my cartoons are about and I might go 'I dunno, I drew one of a cat'. That said I have a note section in my phone of things I want to draw but don't have time, yet. I've been called 'proficient' which I think relates to the frequency of cartoons, I hope it's a positive thing rather than someone gently squeezing my shoulder and saying 'maybe you should stop now'. 
 
Do you ever think when you stick one of your illustrations up "Nobody but me will find this funny", and are you then surprised by the reaction to them?
 
YES! All the time, I am my own biggest fan. I'm not saying that in a weird 'Oh ho ho I'm great' but more in a I make myself laugh more than I make anyone else laugh. Sometimes I draw cartoons about things that I think or do and there is a response of 'Oh I do that too' and it makes me feel a bit less alone but it can be hard to put these things out there. And I like making people laugh, if I can draw something that makes me laugh and brightens someones day then that's great. Who wouldn't want that?
 
You have a background in stand-up comedy, is that something that helps you with your illustrations, or is it an entirely different animal altogether?
 
I drew before I ever did stand up, I don't think many 4 year olds are doing stand up, that said I did tell a penis joke on stage at a wedding when I was 8. My grandmother was shocked. So I've always done art because I like it and I find it relaxing. The comedy thing was a way to write out ideas and put them out there, marrying the two has been fun, it's taking the ideas I have of what is funny and trying to find a visual way to show them. It's a challenge and ironically I'm way less likely to do cock jokes. 
 
 

If our pets had wallets. #wednesdaywisdom #pets #cats #dogs #illustration #lol

A photo posted by Twisteddoodles (@twisteddoodles) on

 
Do you have any particular favourite comedians and/or comedic illustrators?
 
Oh wow, yes, comedians I like people like Kyle Kinane, Foil Arms and Hog, Tig Notaro and Bill Burr. But I would have watched a lot of sketch comedy growing up like The Fast Show. As for comic artists I see people like Perry Bible Fellowship, Fowl Language, Lunarballoon, Rubyetc, Kate Beaton and the Oatmeal. Actually there are a lot of them who are really great, it gets to the point where it's difficult to not feel both intimidated and inspired at the same time, damn their beautifully drawn funny musings. 
 
It can be notoriously difficult to retain creative control of these kind of creations online. Have you had much trouble with that?
 
I've had bit, yeah, mostly coming from the idea that if you put something up on the internet it is free. It's not, I do it for free but it doesn't mean that it can be used to generate money for someone else. That's happened and I've tried to stand up for myself as much as I can, showing them photos of my crying children, tsk'ing at them and sending invoices for using my work. I don't have buckets of self esteem about what I do so standing up for myself can be difficult but if I don't, who will? That would be a great cue for some copyright avenging crime-fighter. If that ever happens, it's not me. 
 
Do you have a particular favourite of your own illustrations you've done so far?
It is hard to pick a favourite but I've some that mean more to me based on either how the idea was conceived or what it meant, I quite like the Eureka science one because I drew that out of frustration at science. I work in science. And it was one of those cartoons that just did really well. 
 
image via Twisteddoodles
 
Are you ever concerned about being too esoteric or risque or do you just draw whatever you feel is funny?
 
I try to keep a tone with the work, usually it is playful and light-hearted. Generally I don't attack people or pick easy targets and the stuff isn't smutty, you can tell it's not smutty because I used the word smutty which is a word a mum would use. That said I do draw what I feel is funny or what I've observed that amused me at the risk that the only person it might amuse is me. But I hope not. 
 
Thanks Maria!
 
You can find all of Maria's illustrations at her Instagram and Twitter accounts, @Twisteddoodles!