Sunday, April 8, 2007

Slight of Hand.

So I've thought of it and this is the best way I can describe what I am going through with in park caricatures. Being a caricature artist is sort of like being a magician. You have learned a skill that most people think they will never learn and that ups the the value of what you do and what people are willing to pay for it. So day after day you wow people with your tricks and games and it never fails to deliver. Some days the crowd is more tame and some days you get a standing ovation but all in all it's a game that pays off. The problem is, from the magicians point of view there is absolutely no surprises. He knows the trick, he knows where the smoke and mirrors are and what they do. He simply follows a step by step "how to" procedure. Now there are exceptional magicians out there in the world but I challenge you to name 10. 10 is a ridicously small number and I bet you can't name 10. There are not that many great ones out there. What is out there are a bunch of mediocre birthday party magicians that have found a niche and have exploited it. Thats where I feel I am in caricatures. I have found an easy way to make the money in the park and I have a hard time straying away from it to blow people away with the art. I have done this too long to believe that people know the difference. They really don't. BUT, even if they did, it's not really about knowing the difference, it's about personal preference. Maybe Dad gets what you are doing but he might not want his wife looking like Pat Morita. It's not about's about them. This might seem jaded and cranky but it's where I am and not where I want to be. Outside of work I feel I strive to make every line count in my work. I enjoy it and without sounding cocky, I think for the most part I am successful in portraying my vision on paper. I guess I just got busy and lazy at the same time. I have to make every second count at work and when I have missed 3 hours of drawing time at the stand because I had to run and get cotton balls for body art, I put myself into hyper mode and try to catch up to the other artists. I feel bad though, I can hear the other artists sort of begging me to snap out of it. Like a little kid wanting their sports hero to come out of retirement. I'm no hero, or even sporty, but that look of dissapointment when I draw is enough for me to understand what they all think. Maybe the days of greatness are gone. Maybe I was right to retire and just coach. Maybe I could coach and play at the same time. Maybe I need to find a rabbit in the hat that I never knew was there.


chris chUa! said...

hey man, I've only been at this for a brief time, WAY less than you but I know what you I'm sure a lot of us can relate to as well. I can do a really "tame exaggerated realisticish" sketch that I know most people will like. and I DO enjoy doing it, cause it is somewhat challenging and fun. but it's only when I go nuts, push myself and do stuff that I'm not sure will work that gets my adrenaline pumping. sometimes it works/looks like them, sometimes it doesn't, but at the very least it's an interesting sketch and I can feel good about that. plus, if I get that photo of them and the pic, really, that's enough for me. Essentially if I have 1 good drawing in a day that I like that I thought I really put myself in it, that's enough to wash out the bad taste of more "eh" sketches. so maybe try ending a day with a crazy more "you" sketch? btw, I'm loving that you're posting these park sketches. I think they're rad. post more!

Zitman said...

F those other artists. Theres a big difference in drawing funny and just extreme. I think its way harder to have fun with a guest, then at their expense. Trying to keep up with your speed and how funny you can draw is a huge challenge. I still believe you can push exaggeration further than most, you just do it in a simple style. Way harder to do than an over rendered color scheme with every single eyelash drawn. I Learned alot by drawing next to you. If they cant pick up on your abilities then it's their loss.

Joe Bluhm said...

Beau, I agree with Matt. Anyone can try to be grotesque, but to have a unique quality is rare. Sure, when you're KRUNKING out 30 drawings for a paycheck it won't be your best work, but when you DECIDE TO TRY, that's when you have to make it count or work towards finding how to make it count.

I see a lot of young artists try to "exaggerate" (and you know what I mean) - just making things gross and strange. The appeal must be there, and you have a sense of humor with great appeal.

Keep doing what's making you happiest. That's where it's at. If it's not caricature, it's not caricature. If it is, it is. It will be cool either way.

Vondra said...

Well written article.