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Monday, September 2, 2013

Caricatures Part 1

Many moons ago, back in the misty sands of time (the late 1980's), there was a young man with ambitions of becoming a cartoonist. He knew that people liked caricatures and saw them as a way to make some money, and perhaps get some attention locally. He began in earnest to teach himself the art of caricature, but with a desire to do something different. All of the caricatures he had seen so far  looked as if they had been drawn by the same artist; or that many artists had read the same "How To" book. Over time he studied the faces of famous people, and distilled their features down to a minimum. Without knowing it he was abstracting. Soon, a style began to emerge.

More time passed, and some of his work was sold in local art fairs, at comic book conventions, and once even in a (very) small gallery. At a comic book convention a passerby remarked to the artist that his work reminded him some what of Al Hirschfeld's. Not knowing who that was, the artist did some research He was thrilled at what he discovered but a little dismayed that all the hard work of establishing a personal style had resulted in something in a similar vein to the greatest caricaturist of all time. There were some concerns about being labeled a copy cat, but he decided to stay with his own style for it had evolved naturally and independently.

Then the artist was asked to work a few parties where people would sit for a custom caricature. However, the artist quickly realized that these parties were not a comfortable situation, and it cramped his creative style. His preferred working method involved studying multiple photos of the subject and "living with it" for a period of time. An intuitive process resulted in the artist feeling that he knew something about the person and was able to incorporate that into the illustration. Such things as posture, left or right handed-ness, gestures, attitude, and little quirks not visually apparent in the photos. His commission clients were impressed. There were a few commissions that even involved making caricatures of a client's dog or cat!

Gene Kelly- was the first caricature I ever attempted. I was inspired after having just watched "An American in Paris" on TV. I'm a big fan. Here was a guy who made dancing look cool.

Buster Keaton- the world's greatest stunt man, who often times wore the most woeful expression. It seemed the weight of the world was always on his shoulders.
Abbot and Costello- hands were required here as Lou Costello often spoke with his hands.

Next post:

Caricatures Part 2 - Mr. Spock, Pope John Paul, and Sting! 

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