FAT magazine spot

This is an illustration completed for the Winter issue of NAKED EYE magazine, Canada's only Popular Culture and Entertainment Magazine. The article was about Canadian actor Ryan Gosling being fired by director Peter Jackson, from the role he was hired and gained so much weight for, as well as the motives of other actors gaining weight or losing weight for roles.

This is a digital painting (photoshop) from a pencil sketch.


Great Ideas

There is really something to be said about a great idea. Sometimes the ingenuity and inspiration of a plan is just as valuable as the execution. However when you have truly talented individuals at the helm of these ideas, it instantly becomes a "home run" in my eyes.

Here are a few truly great concepts. Sometimes the best ideas are not huge commercial successes, and come from independent artists or publishers. I also have to admit, these are all artists (I'm a fan, I won't lie!). I'm a bit biased. Being an artist myself, I have an affinity towards these creative ideas and the drawing types, so I've gravitated towards
these gems:

Stephen Silver's Sketchbooks

I'll start with a classic. Sketches by Silver. I know I've hyped up the character designer/sketch artist/caricaturist Stephen Silver in the past, but old habits die hard. He's my friend, he's a pro, he works hard, and his work is VERY appealing. Steve has been teaching with Bobby Chiu and the folks over at Imaginism Studios for a year now, and his class is surely one of the rare education purchases (among all Imaginism classes) that is truly worth it, in the art world.

Steve has published three sketchbooks already, in hardcover. The first was his big she-bang,
The Art of Silver. This is a typical approach, but not a typical product. A 160+ pg hardcover sketchbook with work from his childhood, his adult life, his cartoon career, his advertising career, and sketchbooks in between. All the while he talks about his choices and process. A great buy. But that wasn't enough...

To say that Silver likes to sketch is an understatement. Silver HAS TO SKETCH. He needs it. He loves it. He compares sketchbooks and artists to gyms and fitness. And he's right. With all these sketchbooks laying around, Steve decided to publish a book of ONE YEAR's work, from his sketchbooks.

Great idea. $15. Small. Packed full of art. Per dollar, you will not get a better handful of cartoon and sketching inspiration. A must-have... and to top it off, his next sketchbook was an even more clever and sincere idea. Go to his site and check it out.

Schoolism.com - Online Art School

I mentioned Imaginism Studios above. If you haven't gone to the website, check it out. They are comprised of some talented and sincerely wonderful folks. You'll notice the work of Bobby Chiu and Kei Acedera all over BORDER'S Bookstores for the Holiday season, as well as many other places.

The folks at Imaginism are dedicated artists who love to sketch, do concept art, humorous illustration, comic illustration, digital painting, and much more. Though they didn't birth the concept, they teach online classes with some of the best artists in their fields at a place called SCHOOLISM.com.

Schoolism is an opportunity for artists to take courses from the ARTISTS THEY KNOW. When someone is talented and successful in their field, artists often write them asking questions about technique, industry, process and other elements of their niche. This is a chance to see what each instructor can do, has achieved, and to get personal feedback from video courses, at home. The popularity of online schools and courses is improved with video-capture technology and digital painting programs, and the folks as Schoolism are among the best. I have had the privilege to get to know most of the artists and instructors and I can safely say that they inspire me to try new things all the time, keep me motivated, and offer fresh ideas and viewpoints on my career, as well as the actual artwork.

Schoolism is a great way to get a lesson at home, intimately, with the artist that you admire. Check it out, and if nothing else, take a look at all the wonderful themed art books that they offer at ImaginismStudios.com.


The idea of the blog is no longer new. The idea of an art blog is just as old, and the ambition to do a piece of art per day is even older. But every once in a while, one of these guys pops up and screams of fun and originality.

After drawing in theme parks for years, I know of the attraction to the uniqueness and weird nature of each individual human being. Let's face it,
we're all different and we're all funny looking. This doesn't, however, make it easy for an artist (or ANY individual) to pick out what is interesting and weird, let alone draw it well. Dan Hay is one of those exceptions.

Dan is a caricaturist currently working in Florida. His work has been referred to as (with all due respect and admiration to John K.) "what Ren and Stimpy tried to be". He sees strange features, grotesque folds, zits, funny walks, the way clothes fit or don't fit, and he gets it on paper.

Dan recently started a blog called BlubberLubber. Each day he draws a person or pair of people that he observed that day, entirely from memory. Dan's art has a way of making you laugh without words or gags... just a simple drawing of a real person.

He's on vacation for another week or two, but when he's home, he is
adding a cartoon drawing daily. It's the best laugh of my day.

Famous Corpses, 2005

Another great book idea is one from the minds of artists/humorists Brad Bailey, Beau Hufford and Jan Op de Beeck. These three friends of mine co-wrote, to Jan's extremely exaggerated digital caricature illustrations, a sort of "celebrity epitaph roast".

The genius of Famous Corpses needs no explaination. There is fresh content every year and the writing is edgy and cutting (almost taboo).
A wonderful little book.

John Martz's "Excelsior"

The last great idea for today's mention is a small book by John Martz, called Excelsior. I acquired this gem at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF).

Martz is the founder of the popular website DRAWN.ca (as well as the creator of one of my favorite fonts!) and is a very talented cartoonist.

This book is nothing more than a project he took on to practice an inking style with his nib pen... one that got to him. Martz took his mother's yearbook and cartooned every student photo from beginning to end, merely changing the names and dates. This concept of caricature and varying faces with a consistent style, along with having so much material and feigned nostalgia, is hilarious and comforting at the same time. The book is small (about 5"x9" or smaller) and a landscape orientation. Some ideas don't have to be complex or take a lot of writing, but they are just wonderful in their simplicity. This is one of my favorites.
These great ideas are not the ONLY concepts that I think are amazing, but they are merely the ones that I had on my mind today. Over the last year or so I've become a big fan of books. I am enjoying the designs, the layout, the simplicity, the ideas, the luster, the antique of many of them, and many other parts of publishing altogether. I've learned a lot about this industry as well, and am coming to appreciate it, as well as many of the unique ideas and concepts that are found in this genre.

I'll surely feature other Great Ideas from time to time. For now, take a peek at these ones, if you haven't already. They will surely put a smile on your face.


Have I ever drawn you?

While traveling around the US and Canada while promoting my book in 2007, I got the joyous opportunity (for me, at least) to draw many people who dropped by my table/booth. Some of you were sketched on the inside of your book in San Diego, some got a quick sketch in Toronto... no matter when or where it happened, I'd love to use these drawings in an upcoming project!

If I have drawn you this year, scan it at 300 dpi or higher and email it to me at:

blog AT joebluhm DOT com

I have a project for some of the images, and would love to have as many as I can to choose from. I look forward to your emails!



VIBE illustration

VIBE Magazine is doing it's annual "tabloid" issue and I was lucky enough to do a caricature of three rappers towards the back of the magazine. This was a crunch job but I had a great Art Director to work with and as I've said before, it makes it so much more enjoyable, successful, and easy.

This is in the January issue of VIBE, and is on newsstands now.


LA City Beat

Great Art Director. There's a lot to be said about that.

For this illustration, I used Prismacolor Art Markers and Prismacolor colored pencils (both by Sanford) on pastel paper. I used the less textured side of the paper, so I have a bit smoother surface to work on, only because I was working at print-size, which I normally don't do. The background is done with acrylic paint.



Rejects is now available on Amazon.com!

*(ignore the 4-6 weeks shipping, that's old news... it's now IN-STOCK!)

If you have yet to purchase the book, know that you get a free postcard-sized print when you buy from
RejectsTheBook.com, as well as supporting the arts more directly, and helping artists like myself have the capability to publish another book (wha?... hint hint).

If you have already purchased Rejects, be a pal and sign in at Amazon.com to leave your feedback and rating for my book! The more feedback it gets the more exposure the book will get, and the more support you will be giving to the art of caricature, illustration, cartooning, etc. I know it sounds sappy, but give it a shot!


Getting Mail

I often get emails from artists asking about caricature, illustration, exaggeration, or my book. Often, they are the same questions or similar questions. They're not bad questions at all- quite the contrary. Usually very good inquiries come in, and I've decided it would be good to share them with anyone who may visit this blog. I may go back to some archived emails and post them here.

I'll start with the email that I received today, spawning this choice. It's from a chap named Peter who recently purchased my book, REJECTS, and had some questions about live caricature:


Q: Do you always start with a real loose rough, like you show in your book, and then move to a fresh piece of paper? And also, you seem to work from the inside out, beginning with the left eye...Is this true?

A: I do typically start with a rough sketch. A good practice is to let your EYES do that, and don't let it be a tool until you know how to properly do it quickly. Many people start doing this, but they essentially draw the caricature twice, and it ends up being very simple and boring. I use this sketch only when I want an interesting composition, when I want to do something extreme, exaggerated or bold, but don't want to sacrifice too much time. The "pre-sketch" (as I call it) actually will save me time, when used properly. It can be seen as a bad habit, but can be a good one when used infrequently and at the right times.

I don't like the "inside out vs. outside in" argument, and I'd say that I typically start with what seems to anchor the drawing. If it's a pair of glasses, if it's a big nose or the eyes, then yes... but drawing from the outside-in usually limits your capabilities and can cause an improper placement of features and spacial relationships. When starting with the facial features, you can eyeball the spacial relationships and place the 'outline' of the face better. This is my opinion, and has more to do with exaggeration and choices than speed or convenience of habit.

The most important thing to remember is to draw UNIQUE lines each time, and don't just change the size and positioning of the same lines. When drawing live, a lot of artists find a "generic stamp" that they find works. They can quickly sketch this face in just a couple minutes, and it is easy to appropriate spacial relationships to fit the person in front of you... with the right hair and other elements (glasses, earrings, etc) you can fool anyone into thinking it's "them", when it's not really a unique drawing. Each face is unique, and the biggest mission of a caricaturists should be to pay that respect to the individual, and NOT to fix them nor to focus on the common elements of all faces.

I hope this helps. Keep sketching, and write any time.



National Caricaturist Network

This is a preview of a documentary being created on caricaturists. There is not a set date for release or completion, but this trailer has been made available. I get quite excited when I relive this convention, even if only for a few minutes. There is nothing quite like the inspiring NCN conventions.



VIBE in January

I was fortunate enough to have someone at VIBE Magazine contact me to do an illustration for the January issue. I had less than 48 hrs from assignment to delivery, and he wanted a painted look, so it was a crunch, but I got it done. I'll share it here when it's on newsstands, in December.


San Diego

I just realized that I've spent roughly 5-6 weeks in California, this calendar year. I hope all my friends out there were not bitten by fire. Stay safe, and give me a call or email.


I never thought...

I never thought that in my lifetime I'd have be honored by having a person tattoo my artwork on their body, without me knowing about it before-hand and designing a tattoo specifically for the final application... but crazier stuff has happened.

I had a friend hint at such a crazy event as someone getting a "neat tattoo" that would surprise me, so I looked around and found a suspicious photo.

A friend of mine actually got a tattoo on his arm, from an image on my blog, that was drawn inside my book, for a pre-order. I don't even think it's in HIS BOOK!

Some people are crazy... but I love ya, Nolan!


Live Caricatures

Here are some of the sketches completed in San Francisco at a wonderful little wedding reception. I had been invited to draw live caricatures in the west coast city after the groom-to-be got a hold of my first book. I was specifically asked to take a little more time on the drawings and to "not hold back" on the exaggeration. Needless to say, I made a couple subjects angry, but most guests had a great time and loved the art. I had a great time.

These are lightly sketched in pencil, inked with a Copic Brush Pen marker, then toned with PRISMACOLOR markers (30% gray, 60% gray).



San Fran to New York

Well, I never thought I'd be that guy doing an assignment in the bookstore, in a different city, in the hotel room at night, or on the plane on the way home (on the day of delivery!), but sure enough I am now among those rushed, over-eager illustrators who takes on a tight schedule even when booked. Danielle (my girlfriend) says I need to set a more comfortable (padded) schedule, but sometimes things falls through for an art director and they need 17 illustrations in 5 days (no kidding)... someone has to come through for them:

(click image for a larger view)

This is for a local city paper in Santa Barbara, California. I was stuck in Borders Bookstore for about 4 hours while my friends traveled San Francisco and had fun. I sat there, buying and re-buying coffees (out of guilt, for occupying the space for so long) while I rapidly sketched from my laptop.

I ended up condensing my schedule so much last night, that I missed my red-eye flight back and had to get up at 5:00 am today to catch the first flight out.

San Francisco was great (from what I saw of it) and I had some good times with friends.

I'll post photos of drawings from the event I attended, tomorrow. I had fun and tried some grayscale shading with PRISMACOLOR markers. It was fun!


Working on the Road

Well, not really... I hope...

I'm drawing like crazy today, trying to get a few commissions finished for a West Coast city paper. This is a job I've done for two years now, and it's one of my favorites. I get to (yeah, get jealous...) draw caricatures in pencil, down to the collar, of people I've never seen. What a gig! Here's a little preview of one of the drawings:

Speaking of West Coast, I'll be visiting San Francisco for the first time. I leave tomorrow morning (Friday) and come back early Monday morning. I have an event to draw at, but it's a great chance to see a new city. I have some friends and old college classmates that live there, so it will be nice to see "their" city.

This is my last travel trip for the year (I think...), and it will be nice to spend more time in the studio.

Check back in for more paintings, illustrations, both of people and ANIMALS. I'm really inspired by some of my favorite artists and have been focusing more on animal art, animal caricatures, cartooning, design, and other aspects of mammals. I love the idea of "creature" art based on real designs from nature.


Frank Caliendo Stuff-o

Here is a peek at one of the latest commissions for FrankCaliendo.com - keep an eye out for his new show on TBS, FRANK TV. It premiers on November 20th, so save the date.



I will show more pictures of my and others' work at the NCN convention soon, but I've just uploaded this cartoon caricature process at my DIGITAL painting video blog. You can go see the entire painting, or find it on YouTube.


NCN Convention and Digital Media

I'm sitting in the NUGGET hotel in Sparks, NV (near Reno) a day after the final awards banquet for the National Caricaturist Network Convention and Annual Competition. What an event! There is nothing that compares to this convention, and a week full of drawing, painting and sculpting is never enough! I highly suggest you take a peek at caricature.org and join the NCN, as well as plan on attending the next convention for the best time of your life as an artist, if you appreciate the art of caricature at all.

I was also lucky enough to pick up a caricature sculpture of myself, completed by artist/sculptor/illustrator David O'Keefe. What a magnificent piece of art... and a bit creepy!

Lastly, I've received an email from artist JC Reyes, asking a few questions about digital painting for his thesis report. Here are his questions and by brief answers. I realize that I am not a great writer and have fairly simple views on this topic, but if it helps anyone, it's worth sharing:


Q: "What do you think are the advantages of using digital illustration softwares like Adobe Photoshop in making caricatures?"

A: There are several advantages in using digital software to create paintings and illustrations. I feel the biggest advantage has to do with time and cost. When being commissioned to do an illustration, a project can be turned around in far less time than doing traditional media, because one does not have the burden of materials, prep and cleanup. Many different effects, textures and approaches can be achieved with the same program (ie: Photoshop, Painter, Sketchbook Pro, etc), rather than purchasing costly materials for each project, style or medium.

It is also easy to make large and substantial changes to an image when working digitally, and many different versions of a piece can be created quickly, without redoing a piece multiple times. This, again, is an advantage for an illustrator when a client or art director feels the need to see different color themes or elements in a piece. It is easy to experiment and find what "works" in each piece of art, when you have the option to "undo" changes, as well as work with layers.

Q: "What are the difference of using traditional media from digital?"

A: The differences are very simple. Using traditional media is very important in keeping up an artist's skills, as well as calligraphy. Putting lines or brush strokes on a board, paper or canvas will keep your muscle memory and ability to work in a speedy and comfortable manner. This is mostly lost when working digitally. The invention of tablets such as the Wacom Cintiq are blurring these lines, however you still may not experience the texture and drag that traditional media can offer. For example, using acrylic paint on a canvas has a distinct and unique "feel." This feel is not experienced when working on a digital tablet surface. There is also the problem of not having a true "original" piece of art. A digital file is nothing more than 1s and 0s in a particular order. While the image is created, the artist does not have a one-of-a-kind physical object to hold afterwards.

Recently, the ease of reproducing original art on board, paper and canvas has caused an increase of marketing in the "print" world, and artists and dealers can sell many copies of one original piece of art. This can be done with digital paintings, so the validity of selling work is now becoming more clear and interesting.

Q: "Does it have great affect on your work?"

A: The biggest effect digital painting has on my work is by hurting it. With how easy and fast it is to create a digital painting, it becomes tempting to create most work in the computer. In doing this, I lose my feel for raw materials from time to time, and I'd rather be more loose and ready to paint or draw at any time. There is an advantage, however, and it has to do with versatility and speed, as mentioned above.

Q: "What are your other views on this topic?"

A: I feel digital painting is a great thing. The current state of art has led many jobs to rely on speed and versatility, and without this knowledge, I feel many artists are behind in the 'game.' Working in digital media is as important as learning to type (for artists) and is part of the current state of illustration and concept art/design. Without this knowledge and practice in an artist's portfolio, they are clearly behind in the technology, and it may hurt them. I also feel that any artist that works exclusively in digital media is limiting their exposure and possibilities. There is much more to talk about in this topic, and it is all very debatable. I feel the digital transition has much to do with technology and the digital wave of our time, and keeping up is possibly the most important choice in an artist's career.


In Orlando...

Well, the Orlando Comic Con was not what I expected.

I'm hoping the organizers will be a bit better at communicating and advertising this event if they continue it. It was possibly the most unprofessional convention I've attended, and I feel they have a lot of refunds to give and apologies to pass around. Hopefully they'll step up their game next year and impress the vendors and exhibitors.

The good part is I got to hang out with a few old friends as well as making some new ones. Everyone that stopped by the booth was great, and I had a good time talking to them, if nothing else. This is one of the sketches done for a big
Sylvester Stallone fan, lover of art, and new friend:

On a separate note, the National Caricaturist Network is having it's 16th Annual Convention & Competition, starting this weekend (Sunday). The convention runs from the evening of the 30th through the banquet, the evening of October 6th. It is easily the best time I have EVERY year, the most inspiring show I go to, the most I learn comes from that event, and the best friendships I've made are there... It's in Reno, NV this year, and you can learn more at the website. If there's ANY chance you can attend, DO NOT miss it. You won't be disappointed... and I'll see you there!


Orlando Again!

I'll be visiting Orlando once again, for the Orlando Comic Convention. You can find me in Artist Alley, booth 111. I'll be selling my book as well as doing live artwork, both on paper and digitally! If you get a chance, drop by the hotel and check out the event. It should be lots of fun.


Prismacolor Sketches

Prismacolor is owned by the company that develops Sharpie markers, SANFORD. I've been using Prismacolor Art Stixx for years, in my live caricature. The pencils are wonderful, and in stick form they are just as great. They're very useful for putting down broad strokes of color and layering, progressively.

The Prismacolor markers are great for toning large areas, sketching, or just getting a controlled watercolor look. They blend well and you can create edges if you know how to use them.

Lately, I've been going to a lot of shows and conventions to promote my book, REJECTS, and I'm signing a lot of books and sketching caricatures of patrons and fellow artists. One thing I've found is that I love using a simple ink-pen, much like a Micron or Pitt pen, but recently I discovered that Prismacolor has just released a fine-tip pen, called the Prismacolor FINE LINE Marker.

The FINE LINE is superior in its durability. It lasts until the ink is gone, and I find that it flows a bit more like a crow-quill or pen nib, despite being a felt-like, synthetic material. The tip holds up, and the ink is quite rich. It's waterproof and doesn't smear with the Prismacolor markers, so I get sketches out like the one above, in just minutes and don't have to worry about a thing.

If you get a chance, I'll be in Orlando, FL in a week for the comic convention, and if you stop by I'll show you more sketches with these materials. Drop by an art store or go online and order a box and you won't be disappointed. They're great for pen-ink work or just sketching.


Podcast #1 - Tom Cruise

I'll be posting videos of digital painting and drawing, including my commentary with thoughts and process. There is a separate blog for these, and you can find it on the right side of this blog, on top of my links section.

Give me your thoughts and suggestions, and I'll do my best to keep it interesting.

Come Get Some...

I warmed up today with this sketch that took just over an hour. This is a piece that I've been wanting to start, but needed an excuse to get over being lazy with my work, and even something as simple as calling it a "warm up sketch" does the trick. It's of B-movie actor Bruce Campbell.

By the way... To anyone who stopped by my experimental booth at the Baltimore Comic-Convention: I thank you! I was trying out some new things and doing some work for a client while at the table, and I met some great people and talented artists. I'll be at the Orlando Comic Con next weekend (22, 23) and have some free time in town, so let's all hang out.


Going to Baltimore to Laugh

I'll be hawking my book in Artist Alley at the Baltimore Comic Con this weekend, from September 8 - 9 at the Baltimore Convention Center. There are some amazing artists featured at this show, like Mike Mignola, Sergio Aragones, James Jean, the Kuberts and Romitas, Frank Cho, Jim Lee, and much more surprise talent. Make sure you stop by and say hi. I'll be doing caricatures, like you may have seen on DRAWN!, as well as selling my new book.

On the 7th, the night before the convention, I'll be visiting the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with a few friends to see my favorite comedian, Brian Regan. Above is a gift caricature I painted after seeing his DVD, "I walked on the Moon" (buy it and love it).


Dan Hay

On page 80 of my book, REJECTS, I mention artist Dan Hay. I learned from Dan that drawing a caricature of a person can be more fun than solving an equation. Dan indirectly taught me that, while it is a problem-solving art, it can also yield different results, far beyond the "correct" solution. Dan would (and does) draw caricatures of individuals in many radical different ways. Even if it's the same person, each drawing will be amazingly different, based on the day, the look of the person, a commentary he's making about the person, a particular observation during that sitting, or any number of other reasons. Dan draws in a great cartoony way, yet implements observational coloring and shading, while not losing that grasp on inventiveness. Few artists know of Dan, and I think he likes it that way... in fact, he'll probably be a bit mad at me for sharing all of this, but I find him far too inspiring and talented to keep hidden.

I visited Orlando, FL last week and dropped by the old stomping ground (Sea World) and was lucky enough to get a caricature sketch by Dan Hay. It's funny, accurate and extreme:


Drawing Live in Orlando

I'm sitting at my buddy Keelan's computer, on the last day of my little vacation/work trip to Orlando, FL. We had a blast working a couple gigs this week, on Disney property with many many artists and friends whom I haven't seen for a while.

This is just a peek at one sketch (and guests) that I had the pleasure of drawing... I've never met merrier ladies!


Bringing back the Pigs

This is a very static expressions sheet done for a project pitch to GE, while I was working at a 3D animation studio. It's not so much a character pitch, as it was done to convince a client that a simple smiley pig can have varying expressions and lots of character, based on simple line changes and shadow/color design...

I just think he's cute.


"You're mean!"

There is a perception that exists among customers (and people, in general) that I will never understand. I can see it... I can fathom it... I can expect it... I can try to prevent it... I wait for it... I try to avoid it... but no matter what I do, it will never go away.

I spent nearly 5 years drawing live caricatures as a day-job. It is an affair that I will never get over. I love the challenge of having to scratch out a 5-10 minute cartoon face that looks undoubtedly and uniquely like the person in front of me, whom I've JUST met for the first time in my life. It's a great feeling when you get a good likeness. Once you master that approach, taking the drawings further, sillier and making them more unique is the next interesting endeavor. I will always love the live sketch.

(This cute baby was drawn in San Jose, CA in 2006. See?.. no need for
smiles to get the expression and overall cute look of a child.)

Every now and then I get asked to train caricaturists across the country (and around the world) by simply drawing next to them and talking to them throughout a work day. I love this setup, because I am asked to do nothing more than be myself, decide which drawings to take to the limit and which to bang out in seconds, and talk shop with other interested and interesting artists. It's a great gig, and hard to say 'no' to.

Recently I was asked, by my good friend Matt Zitman, to drop by the Six Flags theme park in New Jersey (just a 1.5 hr train ride away) and do such a training day. It started out slow, but I had a great time getting to know the artists a bit and doing a drawing here and there; basically brushing the dust off of my "live drawing chops". All was going well until I had that one customer that I've seen a thousand times:

A middle-aged couple and their 4 year old daughter are looking at the price signs, quietly. I ask if they'd like a caricature, and they say, "Well, maybe for HER, but she won't sit still."

TANGENT: One of the biggest MISCONCEPTIONS about caricatures is that they are cute and for little kids. This is WRONG. Caricatures are for ANYONE who WANTS one and usually for OTHERS to enjoy. Getting a l
ittle kid drawing makes no sense, when they are more interested in their Dora the Explorer sippy cup, while the parents are the ones laughing at the sample caricatures! Doesn't it seem logical to get one of YOURSELF? Even so, they are meant to capture the person as they are, in that moment. There is no other frame of reference, be it something as simple as hairstyle or something as heavy as a personality, for which to base the 5 minute scratchings.

So back to the parents... I responded enthusiastically and playfully with, "Well, surely YOU TWO will sit still! Why don't you get one of yourselves?!" They chuckle and the mother says, "Okay, how about you two." (pointing at the father and daughter).

First they take the hair down on the little girl, which is a bad idea, because her hair was in a pony-tail all day. I saw this over and over again. "Let's put her hair down so she looks like a girl in the drawing." Did they walk around with a little transvestite all day? Were they ashamed at the restaurant this morning at their little "boy-girl" freak? NO- they had a beautiful daughter with a pony-tail, but instinct and ignorance leads them to assume that the artist in a theme-park can't draw a girl unless the hair is long.

"He'll fix it in the picture," they say about her messy hair, being all crimped and bent from multiple rubber-bands and sweat.

So taking a deep sigh, I let all this go and put on a smile. "Okay, have a seat right here, you two."

Now my job is to capture them as best I can... the little girl starts screaming. Something about not wanting a cartoon or the strange man is looking at me... the usual. I do my best to capture her interest, with a patronizing child voice: "Don't you like cartoons? Do you want to be a cartoon? What's your favorite cartoon?" This works well, and she calms down.

I do my best to get her expression of contentment down, and it looks fine. Not offensive, not silly, and a good likeness.

I get stopped half-way through the drawing by the mother saying, "Honey, would you like to see it?" She hops of her father's lap and takes a peek, only to start WHALING and crying because she's not smiling in the picture.

"Can you fix the mouth... so she's smiling?"

"We draw in permanent ink on paper, so the only way to do that would be to start the drawing over."


(The parents of this boy, drawn in Carlsbad in 2006, enjoyed the fact that he could
be best represented without a smile, and still be cute... how he really is.)

I continue to draw the father as the little girl SCREECHES in my ear about looking sad and mean in the drawing. The mother persists:

"Don't you have White-Out so you can fix things? Like maybe just white out the mouth and fix it?"

"No, we don't have White-Out... your only option is for me to start it over."

"Oh... okay," her voice trailing off, as though it's no big deal. I finish the drawing quickly and show the father who looks very underwhelmed.

At this point, it's customary to attempt to sell a frame or matte with each piece, to protect it or prepare it for hanging in one's home; "I don't want ANY frame," she starts, "I'm not very happy at all... you should have white-out for the mouth, so you can fix things... I thought you were going to make jokes (she gestures with her hand, as though it's some sort of blinking light via fingers, like I'm some sort of party magician) so she'll smile, then draw her smiling."

"I'm sorry if you don't like the sketch. I tried to banter with your daughter, but she clearly wasn't in the mood to be drawn. I did my best and represented the expression on her face. It's what we do. That's why I suggested that you two get YOUR caricature drawn, because it's a bit more fitting and easier for adults."

"Well, I'm not satisfied." She signs her credit card receipt, grabs her bags off the ground in a huff and walks away with a purpose.

What constantly fascinates me is that because an individual may not understand or grasp the intention or fun in a caricature, they feel that we should intuitively know to mold our profession around their specific, changing needs. I see it so often, yet it still intrigues me. It's as if someone enters a Taco-Bell saying, "boy, I love fast food! I eat at McDonalds all the time... give me a #1!" then being dissatisfied because it's not a burger... lesson learned, right? Wrong. They go to the manager and ask them why they made their tacos wrong.

The customer may "always be right" but it doesn't mean that they have any clue. I never hold this against them, but it will never fail to amuse the hell out of me and baffle my brain.

Ah, humans... They're freakin' weird.


Response to Anonymous

I've received a lot of comments on the "Mr. Anonymous" update, and I got some great emails. I'm putting one here because it's an interesting response and one that I agree with. His voice is quite unique (not an "inside-voice") and he gets to his point without messing around. I see it as a great response to "Mr. Anonymous." Here it is, a bit edited (for brevity). From artist Tony Cabral:

I know you invited folks to be "as sincere and open as they are quick and crass", but I find quick and crass to be short and to the point.

F*** that sh**.

I probably don't have to tell you that people just don't get what caricature is all about. Caricature isn't about picking on people or 'being an asshole' or finding fault. It's just the opposite; it's finding what makes people who they are. The best portraiture is closest to caricature, and the best caricature is a thousand times better than that.

I'm a fan and a great admirer of your work, ESPECIALLY the live stuff. The one thing what's-his-face got right was that you have "the gall to do this shit" in a live setting. More like guts; it takes guts to approach a subject the way you do that close in that amount of time. You've got an immense talent and a particular genius for this particular brand of observation. I'm a fan of Frank Caliendo for the same reason I'm a fan of yours... The best comedians do it with words, the best musicians do it with sound, you do it with line.

I spent a brief, almost ineffectual time doing live caricature when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I got sick of drawing people's babies and toddlers and watching adults chicken out of sitting down. Those that did would say things like, "Now, draw me pretty!" How about I draw you quiet, doofus... It's something I do these days for myself only, when the mood strikes. The fact that your particular voice is so strong and vibrant is something that I admire greatly. I'm really looking forward to getting my copy of "REJECTS", because it strikes me as a great testament to a great talent against the people who, one way or another, just don't get it.

The only other thing I can think to say is that the one thing that keeps me off the internet with my own blog or website or whatever is that I am very much aware that, for every person you want to reach, you're going to reach a handful who don't get it, don't like it, or just have nothing better to do than piss all over you. I have little to no patience for that. Good on ya for braving the storm.

Anyway, just keep doing what you're doing. For the rest of us... F*** that sh**.


From Nice Mr. Anonymous

Every so often I get an anonymous comment on this blog. It is rare, but it happens. The funny thing about it is that the comments from the anonymous posters are usually statements in line with something you'd read on eBaumsWorld or YouTube, commenting in a snarky manner after a sincere video. This is the most recent one:

"dude, I just found your stuff. It's hilarious. But, you're still an ass-hole. Your funny, but I can't believe someone would have the gall to do this shit."

Now before I give a serious response, let me tell you... I'm flattered. There are many times when people will say, "Oh, you're so mean!" after seeing a drawing or caricature, both live and in print. This is just as much a rush as skydiving, for an artist, but not an accurate critique of the scene.

First off, I realize that this comment isn't as cutting as some of my blog replies, but it still shows a lack of understanding and eloquence. This individual can feel free to email me if they'd like, if they'd prefer to understand the art of caricature a bit more. I'd love to let them in on it, and explain why I'm not an "ass-hole", but rather an advocate of original caricature and artwork. It's clear that they aren't all bad, as they say my work is hilarious and funny. It's not like it was that controversial either... the reader commented on THIS update!

I care a lot about "this shit", but so long as people hide behind "anonymous", individuals like this will never have the chance to communicate with real humans. I invite this reader and others to drop an email to me (blog AT joebluhm DOT com) and be as sincere and open as they are quick and crass. I'm not angry or upset at all; I'm fairly non-plussed (as Larry David would say), especially in the neglect to credit one's own words.

I have to reiterate- I'm not accusing this individual of being a jerk or anything; quite the contrary. From knowing people's reactions, this person undoubtedly likes what they see and is a decent human. I am just amused.


Chitown, TCAF, + digi.paint

Wizard World Chicago went great. I met some wonderful people and I'll surely visit again next year. My buddy Jason Seiler joined me at the convention and we had a great time with Alberto, Bobby, Kei, Steve, Pete, 'T', Matt, Joe, and others. Don't forget the name Matt Stewart... he's an animator and effects/character designer and his work is badass (+ he's a fun guy).

Anyway, Jason Seiler is about to start teaching a class with Imaginism Studios, and has a lot to offer those looking to learn more about painting and caricature. If you are interested, check it out at Schoolism.com!

I'll be attending the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, this week. It's at Old Victoria College in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Driving me up to Canadiaville will be the snazzy Brendan Burford and the lovely Rina Piccolo. We will be in the room with AdHouse books, so drop by and pick up a copy of our books and show us the love. Anyone who brings me a cold can of sugar-free RedBull or sugar-free RockStar gets a free caricature!

I'm also working on more caricatures for Frank Caliendo. After doing a piece for comedian Brian Regan, I've been falling in love with painting again, and will be doing much more of it. Both digital and traditional hold their own challenges, and I'm really looking forward to tackling them head-on. Here's a peek at the unfinished caricature. Can you guess who it is?


ComicCon, PreOrders & Chicago

The NCN Comic Con booth was a total success. I can't even wait for the NCN convention in Reno this year... if you don't know, check it out here, and if you can make it, it's an artistic overload!

We completed 92 crazy caricatures by featured artists (for guest donations), sold nearly 70 books (by NCN members) and signed up 14 artists. It was a blast, and my book did pretty well. I unloaded all 99 books over the 5 days, and even received some bulk orders... it may go faster than I thought!

That brings me to the pre-orders. Thanks to everyone who ordered one (ore more) by August 1. I did a little doodle in every book (some quick, some not) of anything that struck me, from self-portraits to skulls (above) to baboons & canines. It was truly fun and great warm-up practice.

I had a blast and sketched for nearly THREE WHOLE DAYS. It was worth it, and this morning I'm mailing over 200 copies of REJECTS!

This week and this weekend you can find me at WIZARD WORLD con in Chicago, IL. I'll be at my first individual artist table selling REJECTS and individual caricatures, drawn live! I can't wait for this convention... it should be a blast. If you're in the area, drop by booth 4616A and say hi.


at Comic Con

The National Caricaturist Network is hosting a booth this year at the BIG Comic-Con in San Diego, CA. I will be working at the booth with many other talented artists, and we'll be drawing caricatures for convention-goers! We'll also be selling a few books to help promote the NCN, and mine is one of them! Drop by to get REJECTS, some caricatures, some books, and join the NCN, this week in San Diego.

July 25-July 29, booth 5507.



So I promised a free copy of my book, REJECTS, to one person via random drawing of emails. My brother setup a virtual pool of names and generated one. Unfortunately the individual is not responsive, so after 4 offers and a deadline, I chose another email, and that came up a winner!

Congratulations to KEVIN REUTER for winning a FREE COPY of REJECTS! Kevin happens to be an old friend, a great caricaturist, and (fortunately for me) has already purchased TWO copies of the book, making this his third! Thanks for the support, Kevin. I'll have the free copy mailed with your purchase with a sketch inside, the first week of August.

And if you haven't already ordered the book, you can mail a check or pay via Paypal or any major credit card HERE.

I'm only drawing in and signing the pre-orders, and there's only two weeks left.


Orlando Magazine!

The folks at Orlando Magazine had me do the cover for their shiny and wonderful monthly publication. UCF President John Hitt is depicted hoisting a gold bar in the shape of a '1', as he's picked as this year's MOST influential person to Orlando. You can see the original illustration at JoeBluhm.com.

Thanks, Maria.
Don't forget to order a copy of my new book, REJECTS - You get a sketch while you pre-order, and that only lasts another two weeks!



My book, REJECTS, is on the ocean, the new website is up, and the book is ready to be pre-ordered!

All pre-orders (by August 1) will include a small art-print and an original drawing by the artist, and will be shipped the first week of August.

Drop by to order it today! Thanks!


On a separate note, I want to find and thank whoever sent me this pointless and sweet postcard. There was a fun little sketch on the back, and the front had work from one of my newest and biggest inspirations, artist Glenn Barr. It came from Columbus, so I have a few suspicions, but let's just say I'd like to hear from the anonymous gift-giver and thank them. It made me smile.