Anyone who’s read The New Yorker in the past 36 years has seen the cartoons of Roz Chast. The artist, whose work is filled with trembling characters worried about everything from cruddy oven mitts and “faith-based tuna casseroles” to Ebola and death, has had more than 1,270 cartoons published in the magazine since 1978. But few readers have seen inside the Ridgefield, Connecticut, home and studio where she draws her weekly batches of cartoons, which she describes as “a kind of notebook.”
A New Yorker video portrait of Chast, 60, reveals how the aesthetic of her cartoons–colorful, wry, and slightly deranged–is echoed in the decoration of her living space and the design of her studio. The same sensibilities also come through in her crafting projects (origami, elaborately painted Ukrainian Pysanky eggs, and rugs woven with portraits of her late parents). Even one of her pet parrots, Eli, is as neurotic as a typical Chast character–she plucks her own feathers out with her beak.
Some of Chast’s collection of hand-painted Pysanky eggs have designs inspired by her love of mildly grotesque canned-food labels. Her canned-food collection is not kept in a pantry, like in normal homes, but displayed as art objects on a bookshelf. (The collection inspired a New Yorker cover back in 1991.) One important design insight: “It really takes guts to put canned food in a brown label,” Chast says, admiring a brown can of Argo Sweet Peas.