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A JPEG Interview with Douglas Coupland

Author Douglas Coupland is pretty tired of email interviews, and who can blame him? To keep things fresh, Nadja Sayej interviewed him with JPEGs of handwritten questions, and Douglas responded in kind.
Nadja Sayej
Κείμενο Nadja Sayej

Douglas Coupland has been busy. While most know the Canadian literary icon for his book Generation X, he is also a contemporary artist who painted long before he wrote his first novel. Read any interview with him to see he’s also a huge champion of Canadian art, likes to have fun with color, and even tries his hand at fashion and furniture design. He announced last month his next book, Worst. Person. Ever., is coming out in October.


Coupland toys with Canadianisms in everything he does, but nothing compares to the work he has shown recently at the Daniel Faria Gallery in Toronto—QR-code paintings alongside cheeky Group of Seven landscapes which distort the Canadian memory. As he notes below, barely anyone outside of Canada knows what the Group of Seven is—in fact, I'd like to argue that many Canadians have no idea what the Group of Seven is, either. The Group of Seven were a group of painters who defined Canadian landscape art in the early 19th century. In other words, every painting of a tree refers to them unknowingly.

Douglas Coupland is also sick of email, or so he said once. I understand. Most of us are so caught up in the email world that we forget that a reality exists outside of that.

And yet, the Vancouver-based writer and artist prefers to do email interviews. But is there any way to make an email interview more interesting?

To spice things up, we opted for a JPEG interview. I just wrote down questions on pieces of paper, photographed the questions, and fired them off to the West Coast.

It was up to Coupland to decide how to reply. He replied with JPEG answers—words on paper, in various fonts. Each background is descriptive of what the question is about. Through a series of back-and-forth digital photos, Coupland and I chatted about Dubai, what he learned in Tokyo, and how he looks back on the prenovelist era of his youth (with a shudder). I’m not sure if he likes his handwriting, but he came to one conclusion. You’ll see below.


Follow Nadja on Twitter: @nadjasayej

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