Gifted Hands: Chris Atukwasize alias OGON is the editorial cartoonist at Monitor publications Limited. His sense of wit is widely celebrated and has earned him a household name on the media landscape. Nicolas Akasula caught up with him.
People may wonder what kind person you are outside the cartoons. Who is the true Ogon?
There’s nothing like the true Ogon. But contrary to what many people think, I am not necessarily what I draw. I am actually far from it. I am less controversial and less open to the world.
Why did you choose editorial cartooning?
Editorial cartooning chose me. Editorial cartooning is fun, and nothing beats fun work. I get the opportunity to express what I feel, and what’s around me in the best way I know.
Were you an ardent fan of cartoons in your childhood?
Yeah, definitely. I have followed cartoons from when I was little. I used to steal newspapers from wherever, to cut out cartoons to pin in my room.
When did you realise that you could actually do this?
At university when I was torn between choosing illustration, and advertising for my major work. I chose illustration and that’s how I found myself where I am.
Were you trained by someone to draw them?
Trained? No, I was encouraged first by my parents when I was little. And through the years by my art teachers from primary to university. They have been very instrumental.
How do you come up with the cartoons you draw?
I read, study and analyse the news and news trends worldwide…then do some rigorous brainstorming after which I get drawing.
How long does it take you to come up with one cartoon?
It really depends, but what matters most is the thought process. Once I am done with that, then execution is something very easy.
What excites you the most about your work?
The feedback! Good or bad. I find satisfaction in feedback from the readers. It’s what mainly keeps me going. My sole purpose is to create work that elicits commentary.
And, what makes it less interesting?
I definitely wish the pay was higher. And most times people think our trade is about the business of mocking others. But what puts me off is deliberate misinterpretation of my work. Often by the affected parties.
Does your work ever make you laugh like its consumers?
Not really. I rarely laugh about my work until I have seen how the audience receives a particular cartoon.
Do you ever think of opting for another job?
I honestly would not enjoy doing any other job besides what I do. I am passionate about cartooning. I don’t know what I would do as an alternative.
Does cartooning pay well enough?
Do I look like someone who’s paid well enough? Anyway. Just like any other trade those who value the art really pay well for it. However, they are few.
Are there people that you cannot draw?
No one is invincible.
Who is the easiest person to draw?
President Museveni. That is my easiest character!
Any most memorable cartoon?
Quite many! Very many.
Have some characters bickered with you for drawing them?
Yes, but I wouldn’t want to waste my time on them.
Which field attracts the most hilarious cartoons?
Politics definitely. It’s our daily bread.