With frequent thrift-store visits, artist Nick McPherson has amassed a collection of other people's discarded photos. He takes those photos and, every day when he has a spare minute or two, pulls out a black-ink, brush-tip pen and draws directly on the portraits, transforming them into hilarious works of art.
"That's how I tell if it's good," McPherson says in his East Village office, where he works as a graphic designer. "If I look at it, and even months later, it still makes me laugh, I know it's a good one."
McPherson scans and posts a photo each day on Instagram (@nicholasdanger), a platform that's provided him with gobs of positive feedback. The likes and follows inspired him to compile some of the photos and print an 80-page book. His fans also motivated him to find a venue to show the original work, which he'll do when Poortraits, his first-ever solo show, opens from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at VISUAL (3776 30th St. in North Park).
"Your pics are weird, I like them," writes one Instagram commenter on a vintage photo of a baby in a wicker buggy. McPherson has defaced the poor kid by adding a backwards baseball cap and hairy, oversized monster arms, one of which is angrily flipping off the camera.
While the manipulated-photo concept might not be original, the gritty, often-dark humor and surprising alterations McPherson comes up with certainly are.
"People just love it," he says. "Some dude in Taiwan, I have no idea who he is, he has 38,000 followers, and he liked five of my photos on Instagram, and now every day, without fail, I get at least two or three kids from Taiwan who follow me. It's so random... But, yeah, I'm totally big in Taiwan right now."