4.01.2009

Live Caricatures



You may already know that I made a living drawing caricatures in destination theme parks for nearly 5 years, and it's a large part of where I met a lot of my favorite artists, best friends and really cut my teeth. I say it often, but I really feel that this experience was more beneficial to me as an artist than art school was. Perhaps I was at the wrong school for my needs, but either way, the community and inspiration of friends and artists made it WELL worth my time, and I will probably never "wash off" the love of caricature, especially live drawing.

I've received some requests to share more live caricature here, so I'll continue to do that. While I am working on other separate projects and career directions with my art, and only do corporate gigs and parties now (and they aren't very frequent), I still have a passion for this entertaining art form and will always love those that are excited and driven through it.

The above image is from a day of sketching with my good friend Matt Zitman at a 6 Flags theme park in New Jersey, last year. This was one of his employees, and I was feeling inspired by the simplicity and symmetry I saw in his face. The number one thing to do is to have fun and make the drawing fun, even if it's trying something new.

The sketches below are from my recent booth setup at the Orlando comic/art/entertainment convention called "MegaCon". Orlando is home to some of my best friends in the world and I meet more amazing people and artists there each time I visit. These were some great folks who came by and purchased some books and a caricature from me, as well as sharing their great personalities with the group. It was a great time. Anyway, these are all done with a Dixon Markette bullet tip marker and took anywhere from 8-15 minutes.

Drawing live caricatures at a party, event, or retail (theme park) environment is an interesting thing, because you have to be quick. I was asked recently about taking 15 minutes on one face... HERE I can get away with it, because it is my table at an event where I am representing myself and my artwork. It is less about the product and more about myself, so the patrons and fellow artists want to see something with a little more frosting and sprinkles, rather than hurry on to the next viewing of the Dancing Penguin Waterslide Spectacular. There must be a balance for live artists, where you realize when and who can afford a few more minutes, who would appreciate a more extreme, rendered, or interesting caricature, and when you need to make some money and crank out the CUTE. It is the most delicate balance, and a good artist like my buddy Ed Steckley learns this first and foremost, and is great at it. It takes more than just funny drawings to be good at this profession, and it's important for the business. That being said, find your happiness and see if it fits with the business. If you can make it work, you'll be very happy to pay the bills and laugh at your own drawings, but find what works for you.












=====



Here is a nice fella who was coaxed into a caricature by his wife. He was evidently worried about what I might "do to him." He was right. He has a great face.

I first noticed how large his head was, with a little extra width. Immediately after that, I caught his clenched or 'forced' smile, slight gaps in his teeth, mole above his lip and intensely squeezing eyes that felt uniquely lazy (tense and lazy?). From those observations, I sketched what I described as a "mountainous terrain", with the paper in landscape orientation.

I try to keep these more extreme sketches loose and fun. A big inspiration is John K. and his Ren & Stimpy cartoons, and how he will break the rules with every scene, going off-model, but keeping the important features. The structure should be strong, but does not have to be absolutely perfect, rather it can strongly suggest the form, with a loose and animated feel. On top of it all, I laid down the Prismacolor Art Stixx in a way that describes form, highlights, mass and shadow. I typically use the light and colors that I see on the person for 98% of my coloring choices, the rest is finesse and having fun, heightening things and adding a little spice.

It's not a perfect drawing, and looking back I see many places where I could improve, but overall it's fun, looks like the guy, and he laughed. That's what it's all about.


24 comments:

Robin Crazy said...

Great works Joe!, man, you are a genious. I really enjoy your life caricatures. THAT IS REAL ART.

A. Malone said...

Agreed. Great post and awesome works. You really make it a lot of fun to learn about and experience!

Carl Knox said...

Hey Joe!

Thanks for your insight into the though process of your caricatures and the perils one faces in being a professional artist on the street doing the live stuff!

I still spend days getting my works done... I envy your speed and confidence.

Thanks again Joe. Loved seeing your work on this post. Great stuff.

Vincenzo said...

My biggest regret is I never got one from you...great stuff "Goomba"!!

David Patel said...

its possible that this summer may be my last with kamans, so its my goal to offend at least a few people before im off to art center

Jeff Pecina said...

yes!

Jeff Pecina said...

also, it looks like those are without a color pad.
a few of them anyway.

are my eyes deceiving me?

LarsER Arts said...

I know what you mean betwen the live and studio work! I tend to add more touches such after I shade with a grey I always seem to add some red tones! It seems to give my work some spunk!

Randy Delgado said...

bravo joe...
bravo

l e d o said...

It was cool to meet you in Orlando, I love my caricature, I hope to return the favor some day.

tk-mochas said...

That is a great caraciture. It looks like him, definitely haha.

Wish people would develope a better sense of humor about themselves. It's awesome

Amy said...

Hey there Joe!

Just wanted to say my copy of Sketch Infectus arrived today and it looks fantastic.
Going on the 'Inspiration Books' shelf next to my desk, it is. :)

Harvey Parker said...

Great job! I'm stepping into the caricature biz (just a little). Did some for a party last weekend. I'm not as fast as 8 minutes, & I'm not as brave as you are... I've held back for fear of insulting clients. But your stuff makes me want to be braver... it looks fun!

ramanjit said...

great sir these are so powerful sketches i have seen in your blog so far.awesome!!

Nico Di Mattia said...

Great works Joe!!!

Anthony C. Smith said...

Great stuff as usual, Joe! Very inspirational!

Chris said...

That is exciting to hear about your new ventures. I really enjoy these drawings - especially the Ren&Stimpy style. You do a great job capturing the quirky things about your subjects!

TRIANA said...

From colombia regards, great technology(skill), which good would be to have one of you, though it is a sketch ... some day surely

Tooninator said...

it's always fun seeing your live caricatures. They def have that something you can't get in a studio painting

Wittygraphy: The Caricature Community said...

this set of caricatures is great.

EDDIE said...

Joe you BAD!... sometimes bad is good d:-p

Nathan Lindsay said...

HA! the third one up from the bottom is my buddy Matt from college. I haven't seen him in 6 years and I totally recognized him from your drawing. you are SO good Joe. Love it all.

Everybody's gotta be in a Gang said...

Great job as usual, Joe!
I used to work at that 6 Flags back in 1991- that's when I first did the live stuff.

Damion009 said...

still laughing! i love your work man.. good stuff... you have a way with the face...