Artist David Shrigley’s work has appeared at MoMA in New York, the Tate Modern in London and other top-tier galleries around the world. But it’s perhaps more likely you recognise his relatable, cheeky and sometimes profound drawings from the many greeting cards, mugs and tea towels they’re printed on.

Shrigley has touched down in Australia to oversee a new installation at the National Gallery of Victoria as part of its summer blockbuster exhibition Triennial.

He joined us this week on our podcast Broadsheet Sydney: Around Town to chat about what inspired the interactive, tennis-themed work, as well as the seven-metre-high thumb he’s got on display outside the gallery and what he’s been up to in Melbourne. He also shared his first love (a football team), the commission he deems “the best thing that ever happened to me as an artist”, and why he thinks comedy can be a force for change.

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Plus, hear the moment Shrigley offered to draw a tattoo on our host, Broadsheet publications editor Nick Connellan.

On his new work at the NGV, Melbourne Tennis Exchange:

People have used it as an opportunity to display their own artwork. So they’ve made artwork on the tennis balls or written messages – or swear words, in some cases – on the tennis balls.

On Australian coffee:

Weirdly, I was just in New York last week or the week before to do another exhibition, and the coffee is diabolical … It’s premier league coffee in Melbourne, definitely.

On whether he’s a morning or night person:

I think if you're happy to get up in the morning, it means that you're in a good place, and I feel I am in a good place. Unless it's raining, in which case the dog doesn't like to go out, which suits me. But I'm one of those dog owners – well, you know, a childless middle-aged man that lets the dog sleep in his bed. Just a disaster on all sorts of levels.

On his giant bronze thumb sculpture, titled Really Good:

So I wrote a proposal that basically said that if I made this piece, it would be like a self-fulfilling prophecy where I say everything's really good and then it becomes really good … and then I got the commission. I was overjoyed, I was really thrilled by this, it was the best thing that ever happened to me as an artist.

On his work as comedy:

I think comedy is a gift and it helps us to understand the world. Comedy is sort of anarchy as well. It's a force for change. It's exciting.