Wednesday, December 16, 2009

About Face

ISCA's first annual top ten interesting faces of the year list is out! If I had my druthers Robert Pattinson's hunky browline would be on there too, but what are you going to do.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Jason Seiler

Here's a pretty amazing artist. I'd like to get a bowlful of whatever this guy eats in the morning. Check out his blog and portfolio.

Update (7 pm): Jason will be giving a live interview to digital artist Bobby Chiu at midnight tonight (11:59 pm Thursday, 12:00 Friday), EST. Should be worth a listen for those of us who are able to keep such hours. The stream can be found here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Friday, November 20, 2009


Nathan Sakulich.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


FeiFei Sun.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Bob Pendarvis.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The ISCA con! (Part 3)

This is Kari Fry:

Kari has been blessed with unusually interesting features (in a good way, as you can see), which is a wonderful thing at a caricature convention. It seems as though every master in the room made a beeline for her face as soon as they caught sight of it. How I envy her.

Here are some of the drawings and paintings of Kari that I managed to get pictures of. There are a million potential creative solutions for a caricature of any person's face, as you can see below.

Toru Tanaka

Angel Contreras

Danielle Corsetto

Tomokazu Tabata! I could not be more jealous.

Paul Moyse, I think?

Roger Hurtado

I don't have credits for all of these, so if anybody from the con knows who did what and could fill me in, please do!

The ISCA con! (Part 2)

Some of my work from the con.

Scott Whatshisface. I can't remember his last name. Sorry Scott!

Carlos Garcia. I had trouble with his face at first, but this probably ended up being my favorite drawing I did during the week.

Natalie Yeckley. As you can see from this picture, I am clearly not in this line of work to make any friends. Another great thing about the convention is that you can be as cruel as you like in your drawings, and since everybody else is a caricature artist, they'll love it all the more for it.

Andrea Gerstmann, who did an amazing painting of me and a bunch of other really nice work too. Check it out on her blog.

Dan Laib. This guy was a hoot.

Joe Bluhm. It was great to finally meet Joe, who has been a bit of a hero to me ever since I began working in retail caricature and was introduced to his work. His dedication and sense of purpose were both very impressive, and a great source of inspiration for me from the convention onward.

Bil being drawn by Joe and looking like a kid in a candy store.

The ISCA con! (Part 1)

The ISCA convention was incredible! I met so many talented people, had a fantastic time, and learned a ton. I feel like this week alone has taught me more than I learned in a semester of art school! The talent in the air at that convention was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Being around so many great artists and being able to see both their artwork and creation process was at once very inspiring and (extremely!) humbling.

ISCA (the International Society of Caricature Artists, formerly the NCN) holds an annual convention somewhere in the world at which caricature artists of all stripes gather to participate in competitions, attend seminars by master caricaturists, watch presentations by guest artists (this year's convention brought Tom Richmond, Sam Viviano, Mark Fredrickson, and Hermann Mejia, all of whom have worked / do work for Mad magazine in some capacity), and generally just have a great time and meet people. This year's convention was in Sandusky, Ohio at the Kalahari resort, and Bil and I decided that we wouldn't be able to forgive ourselves if we missed the last time the convention would happen in our backyard.

Most of the convention took place in a large ballroom area where a few hundred people sat around drawing one another. Each participating artist was assigned a number and a section of wallspace in which to hand their work. This video by Brain Vasilik will allow you to live vicariously through the experiences of both him and myself, as you no doubt richly desire. Notice the handsome chap at 4:45.

At the end of the week, the room is emptied of clutter and people can circle the room to view all of the finished work and vote by ballot for the artists / pieces that will receive a variety of awards, including "most humorous," "best black and white technique," "best abstract / design piece," "best retail party style," and so forth. Following this, an awards banquet is held to present the victorious artists with their prizes, and to award the coveted "Nosey" awards (bronze, silver, and golden) which are given to the artists deemed the three best caricaturists of the year.

In addition to this general competition, there are also a likeness and speed competition that are held separately. The speed competition was a great time and I'm really glad that Natalie and Kayla convinced me to partipate, despite my protestations that I draw like a slug in winter in a pool of molasses. That hack Joe Bluhm somehow managed to sneak away with first place in this year's speed competition; he must have bribed the judges again or something. Here's a video by Emi Sato so you can laugh at his embarrassingly sorry artwork.

Pictures on the way!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Draw my self-portrait, won't you please?

Leaving for the ISCA convention in Sandusky about a half hour from now!

A few of the characters I hope to run into while I'm there:

Toru Tanaka

Tony Parsons

Ron Kantrowitz

Paul Flatley

Klaas Op De Beeck

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sean Gardner

Over the summer, I remember avidly looking at the archives of Sean Gardner's blog on mornings before work to inspire myself, and it never failed to get me hyped up to go out and draw.

Sean does some of the most outlandish exaggerations I've been lucky enough to see in live work, and his technical ability with Prismacolor Art Stix is unparalleled. He can get some really amazing modeling out of those little things, and it still baffles me how he's able to do it. He clearly puts a lot of thought into color, and uses a much broader palette than most of the caricaturists I know, capturing blues, greens, purples, and yellows people's flesh that many people don't bother to spot when working quickly.

He also specializes in zombie caricatures! This is a self-portrait.

See more work by Sean at his blog.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tomokazu Tabata

In a little under a week, I'm going to be journeying to Sandusky for the annual ISCA convention, where caricaturists from around the globe will be gathering to participate in workshops (held by the likes of Jan Op de Beeck and Jason Seiler!), challenge one another in various competitions, and basically just hang out, have a good time, and get to know one another.

So, in the time leading up to the event, I thought I'd talk about the work of some of the artists I admire most and will hopefully meet soon.

I've loved Japanese artist Tomokazu Tabata's art ever since I first saw it in Exaggerated Features magazine. He's got a totally unique style--incredibly perceptive and always capturing great likeness, but extremely simplified and abstracted. His live drawings are some of the most creative and laugh-out-loud humorous I've ever seen. In addition to markers, he uses watercolor and watercolor pencil for his live work; an unusual choice that leads to great results.

His abstractions are always new and different and can be a great source of inspiration for how to handle various facial features.

See more of Tomo's work at his website.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It's just really bad

During live caricatures, I'm occasionally asked if I have any good anecdotes about my job and the people I've drawn. While there are a handful of stories that I'll occasionally relate--the incident with the drunken twin strippers from New Zealand is a good one--I think my favorite involves my last "reject" of the season.

Those of you familiar with retail caricatures will know that on rare occasions, a customer will just be unsatisfied with their portrait for any number of possible reasons--they don't see the resemblance, they think it's too exaggerated and are offended, they don't think it's exaggerated enough and don't think they've gotten their money's worth, they don't understand what caricatures are, they are in a grouchy mood; who knows. We call these unwanted orphan drawings "rejects." This happens even to the best of us; master caricature artist Joe Bluhm has an entire book filled with amazing drawings that various philistines didn't appreciate.

When business is slow at the Zoo, we often try to attract customers by doing sample black and white drawings of willing passers-by so that people can see the quality of our work. One day in August, I convinced a random man with his family to come sit so that I could do a free demo of him. His family moved along to the carousel while he sat. When I finished, he took a look, laughed, tipped me a five and asked if it was ok that he leave it in the booth and come pick it up later on the way out. No problem.

Later that day, he swung by with his family (while I was drawing somebody else) to get his drawing. Though I was preoccupied, I'm told by a co-worker that he and his wife stood somewhere behind me for about a five minute period looking at the picture, then looking at me, all the while talking under their breath. Finally, the wife approached my co-worker, at the time standing directly next to me and the customer I was drawing. "Excuse me," she said with a sour look, "We don't want this. It's just really bad." Then she and her family left the zoo. I've always wondered what it was about the drawing she found so offensive enough to compel her to embarrass all of us in front of paying customers--especially since her husband was apparently pretty happy with it.

We took satisfaction later in hanging it up in the booth as a black and white sample image, enshrining it for the remainder of the summer as an ode to the capriciousness of retail caricatures.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why her mouth all like that? Why her head so big? How long you been drawing for?

End of the season and I'm emptying out my camera one last time. This is going to be a big one!

This was from a photograph that Dad brought in. As I recall, this is a birthday present for the girl in question. Drawing live caricatures from photographs is pretty awful, though fortunately it doesn't tend to happen particularly frequently. Inevitably the pictures are group shots that somebody took with a digital camera and printed at 72 dpi on their home printer (and probably when the cartridge needed to be changed). Getting an accurate likeness is next to impossible.

Wish I'd added the bill of the cap on the back there. Gotta tie a string around my finger for that one.

My animals still need work. I curse the day my iTouch died for all sorts of reasons, not least of which that I can't google reference images on the fly.

Wish I'd handled this one much differently, in retrospect.

She found a hair in her cheesy fries (gross) not too long after I'd finished, and it was irresistible to me.

I find it really, really difficult to quickly draw really good likenesses of children under a certain age because their features are so similar. Unfortunately, there's a "stock" baby image that I tend to use for most of them that tends to have minor variations based on hair, clothes, eyes, mouths, and noses. This is one of the ones where I tried to break away from this a little. I'm going to need to practice this. Babies are actually really, really enjoyable to draw for whatever reason. Well, probably because parents inevitably fawn over how outlandishly adorable the drawing of their little angel is and it makes me feel good.

I feel like I've gotten noticeably better at handling multiple people in the same image over the past couple months. I used to dread doing more than one person, but now I'm ok with the results as often as not.

Cigarette was a special request. I don't ask questions I just draws the pictures.

Probably my favorite multi-person drawing of the season, and a good image to go out on.

Caricature season is over at the Zoo for the year, so this will probably be the end of the live caricature updates for a while. I had a great time working with a really great group of people. Not only was it fun, it's been great to be pressured to draw fast, to observe, to make confident artistic decisions on the fly, and to work and interact directly with so many people. Even the crazy ones. Hell, now that all is said and done, especially the crazy ones!