Getting physiCALIENDO

You may have heard of comedian Frank Caliendo, as he's been a cast member of MADtv on FOX for years, and more recently known for his "FRANK's PICKS" on the NFL on FOX. Frank was recently on Letterman twice, making his mark during Impressions Week here in New York (below). I dig Frank's work - he does what I do; exaggerates what's funny about celebrities and people.

Knowing Frank's work, I was excited to do caricatures for his website, along with his 2nd Frank on the Radio CD for his tours. Check out his website, FrankCaliendo.com, and catch him when he comes near you - he does some amazing and hillarious impressions.


Brown Paper Bagsies

These aren't done on Brown paper bags (deceptive subject), but on recycled brown sketchbook paper (kraft paper by Cachet) - I love that as a starting ground, as it doesn't yet hold the darks or lights, so you have a bit more control on volume, in stages.

These are just a couple 'pass-the-time' sketches between projects.. sort of like a coffee-break for office workers. It feels good. Anyway, they are of a couple guys from NEWSWEEK magazine of whom I tried to enjoy shape and exaggeration without thinking of likeness too much - sort of hard to do, but really a great release.

No names easily found. Ballpoint pen w/ acrylic paint.



On the NCN Online Forum, a member submitted a face from a gig to draw for fun. I couldn't pass it up.


Fun at work

While watching him work, I did a small Post-It caricature (1.5"x2") of my friend Brian.


British As Can Be

These two were great sports and actually loved this drawing. I remember being a bit dissatisfied by the execution and poor relative face-size in this drawing, but very amused at how silly it ended up. The Brits are a popular summer patron to Sea World, Orlando and were usually my favorite group to draw. They can take almost anything, and this is a testament to their lack of vanity and awesome sense of humoUR.

This sketch was sold in 2004... I like it, but it's not good enough for Rejects.


Another Technical Failure

This little Indian boy was fairly appreciative, as was his family. Too bad the pic is too blurry for the book. This one is over two years old.


Wasting Time?

If a pigman could fly, I would guess his hind-quarters would resist, while his forelimbs give in.

This represents goofing off at work.

Rejects again

Here's another live sketch from a while back. I'm cleaning up images, and this one is just too blurry to publish (damn camera). I was really enjoying this sketch. Strangely enough, the family loved the drawing, and didn't mind the baseball buried into the kid's head. I guess being a Boston fan and getting the Green Monster will help them overlook anything.


REJECTS rejects

While preparing the book, REJECTS, I'm coming across images intended for print, yet I'm throwing out now for various reasons. I'll post them here for a little taste of what was rejected from REJECTS. I should have at least a couple each month until the book comes out.

- - - REJECTS REJECT - - -

I'm also learning and practicing modeling heads in Softimage XSI at work. There is a LOT to learn, and it's exciting. Here's one day's work from one of my own drawings. Still in the early stages, but you can see how this would be fun.


NCN & 1 Friend

For anyone not in 'the know', the NCN is a non-profit organization that's been around for over 15 years. It's a network of arists who appreciate and participate in the art of caricature (be it cartooning, portraiture, animation, or any other form of art that utilizes likeness, exaggeration, drawing, etc). Members receive access to an online forum, a website listing, 4 issues of the magazine-style newsletter, Exaggerated Features and more.

There is also a convention held every year, and 2 weeks ago in Orlando, FL we held
the 15th Annual Convention. It's unlike anything you've ever seen - Convention? - that may be an inaccurate term. It's more of a nerd-fest art orgy. 200 artists from all over the world, staying up nearly 24 hrs/day for 4 days, attending a half-dozen seminar-style classes ranging from the very basic theory of caricature to advanced illustration and character design, competing for bragging rights with likeness and speed, admiring and voting for your favorite portfolios and studio pieces, mingling with world-renowned artists (OpDeBeeck, Silver, O'Keefe, Richmond...) and drawing any and every person around you, to hang up on (covering) the walls in a 7,000 sq ft convention ballroom before a final banquet with a formal (well.. for some) awards ceremony. I can't compare it to anything. It is enough inspiration to last a year, and can be compared to even the best art schools. Unfortunately, I could only do two drawings this year. I was running around, taping walls, organizing events, setting up the live gallery, selling merchandise, and doing what a board-member does. Next year, I will make sure I am drawing most of the time... it makes me happy.

NCN Convention regular Greg Dohlen hosts lots of pictures each year on his website, and you can see lots of great stuff here, here and here - but give yourself a solid hour to take it in.
If you have any questions about the NCN, email me - I'm one of the Vice Presidents and will be happy to answer them. I've known of the NCN for 4 years, attended 4 conventions and it's the cheapest special-interest group you can be a part of, while getting something from it.
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Attending the convention was my friend Aaron Philby, for the first time. I met Aaron a year ago when he came down to Orlando to work at Sea World. He draws some amazing caricatures in many different styles and though he'd say I inspire him, it works equally the other way around. He often uses materials in unexpected ways to get a new and bold effect from them, and also uses them sparingly enough that it's a 'cartoon' or 'sketch' even though you feel guilty calling it that. Aaron also brought in some sketchbooks for me to see at work, filled with hillarious cartoons, strips and one-panel gags. His sense of humor is dry and ironic, and I dig it. I just found that he had a website up, so check it out if you get a second. I keep telling him to send his cartoons to MAD!

Lastly, here's a sketch that goes with the group below - it was the last one and a rush-job. It has qualities that I was excited about, but far too many problems to be too proud of. Completed in under 2 hrs (with one boring photo reference). This was done for the Santa Barbara Independent. I'm finding that there are many different approaches to something even as specific as pencil rendering in a realistic manner. At times, I will drift a bit and realize my pencil is still going, and when I snap out of the funk I'm in, I realize I had a different touch to it. This makes me want to explore technique quite a bit more - something I was not very interested in before, with something as seemingly simple as pencil.


Naked, once again.

I've just physically and mentally recovered from the 15th annual NCN Convention. Wow. It was exhausting and amazing, despite the fact I only drew 2 hang-up-worthy caricatures. I'll spare the pics for now, as there are hundreds and hundreds online already (maybe next post, after I go through my discs of images). A worthy vacation and schooling for anyone interested in exaggeration (portraiture, caricature, cartooning, animation, design, etc).

Well, I'm listening to Superdrag and at the 1-hr Post-RedBull High, so I'm feeling good. I moved to New York and am finally settling into the new job, the new home, and the new city. I live in a great place in Queens (sunnyside gardens) and work in East Midtown, Manhattan. It's a great change, and I'm looking forward to being sick of Winter (figure that one out).

Lately, I've been helping out with SO's projects, where I can. Most of it is broadcast work, so I'm left doing the little tasks, but a couple projects and pitches have relied on my drawings (looking good, with the caricature animation soon!), so it's definitely a fun environment where I still have lots of time to draw. I'm catching up on freelance and getting some progress rolling, hoping to still have my book out before March... we'll see.

Anyway, with work and moving so heavy, it's hard to really put the FULL GUSTO into each project, and I've been doing a little bit of freelance among big projects. This work is for the Santa Barbara Independent, next week. Not sure what the angle is, but they just want images of each contributor, I guess to head their section of a topic. I'm posting these under the "naked" angle because it's not my best work. Not that I didn't try or that I failed, but I had such a quick deadline and little time to do it in... this causes shortcuts and less time to plan/sketch. These are the bread and butter of illustration (from the little I know about it) - the rush-jobs. They look good and okay, but as an artist you know you can do better. This is great inspiration to work harder, and motivation to do better with the rush-jobs. My friend Tom Richmond once stated in his amazing blog that he envies those that can rush a job. I wish I never did. There's so much more satisfaction in finishing something to the level and attention it deserves... but I guess that's why they pay me is so little (tee hee).

Anyway, these were each completed in about an hour or two (depending on the subject and planning the exaggeration) with varying degrees of distortion and exaggeration/design elements. At first, I was going pretty far with them, then the art director (a great guy, not his fault) told me to pull back a bit, because these were donated articles and respectful, not goofy or poking fun. I tried to take it easy on a few, after some discussion, and feel they are fairly consistent, nonetheless, but not my best work.

I feel it's important to share (after all, this is a BLOG not my PR website) the mediocre as well as the proud.

I'll try to keep true to this. Now that I'm a bit more settled I'll use this blog to show more of the day-to-day things that I'm working on, rather than the polished stuff... but who knows.



Part of drawing is drawing bad and warming up... working out ideas and sketching. It's so important to sketch a lot and then slow down, and I tend to get caught up in speed, deadlines and drawing fast. These are some quick sketches that I did for a couple recent gigs. They are the first step of a finished piece and have so much life where a the finished product lacks, yet there are so many technical problems and general mistakes. I think it's good to show all sorts of work for critiques and review, so here are some quick sketches.

The celebs are very fairly weak in my eyes, and the dogs were very gestural. The Italian Greyhound shows the progress for the final product, and the colored borzoi was an experiment.

*click images to enlarge


San Diego gig

I'll make Gabe happy and finally post these sketches.
While training caricatures in California for Kaman's Art Shoppes (mid-June, '06), I sub'd for a friend at a gig at a large hotel near the San Diego convention center, for a group of accountants. Along with a few other artists, including good friends Court Jones and Gabe Hunt, I got the rare opportunity to really let loose and do what I wanted (as did everyone else).
This crowd was trying to prove that accountants aren't boring, but 'hip'. I heard nearly every guest talk about this, and being able to read people after years of drawing caricatures, we all knew this and really had a blast - on paper, with our crass wit, and every way possible. The group loved nearly every sketch, even when they seemed offended. It was great.

Each image was completed in anywhere from 10-25 minutes with a Staedtler MarsGraphic 3000
brushpen and shaded with a black Prismacolor Art Stix.

*click each image to enlarge