Saturday, April 1, 2017

Lawrence Welk

     If you get away from caricatures of life. And think realistically about how actual people are. And think about some person in a routine. Which is most people. Let's imagine a middle-aged woman with frizzy hair. Let's imagine she's married. Let's say the relationship's not perfect. There are low points where she wonders if she can keep on keeping on. And there are high points where she feels immeasureably loved and blessed. She's got a job and it's not an awful job, but she's no mover and shaker. Let's imagine something like those guys on The Office TV show but a little less, you know, pathetic is a good word. And of course much much more realistic because that's what I'm talking about in fact. Reality. One hundred percent. I'm not pointing to any archetypes and it strikes me now as I'm writing that most of the time writing uses archetypes and I'm trying to do the opposite here.
      Now, me, I'm not much of a creature of routine. Or if I have that capasity in me I’ve nurtured the opposite. Pursuing art in college and afterward was about chasing impulse with this knowledge that my ability to draw is some verification of the usefulness of my impulses. And I think all the artists I know have a similar relationship with impulsiveness, and of course you have to be able to manage it too. But if an artist will grant to himself that it’s better that he always be creating, and if he can grant that his drawing is an act of creation, then when he feels that desire to draw after having set out to clean or when he might have planned to go to bed, he ought to draw. In this way, for me, being an artist has led to me being somewhat non routine, in some ways for better and in some ways for worse.
     But it has put me out of touch somewhat with those types of people, but many people I grew up with and respect were people of routine. I'm not talking about Hobbits where routine is romanticized, but I'm even further from pointing toward the beginning part of Fight Club where routine is absolutely abysmal. These are the archetypes that pop in my head that portray people in a routine. I think about going over to my grandma and grandpa's house, and they're watching Wheel of Fortune. And the same dumb commercials keep coming on. Imagine you see the same face day after day. You hit the mute button during the commercials, but you can't make the pictures go away. Or imagine you got the old TV with the rabbit ears, no cable. The only channel that comes in really clear is PBS. Lawrence Welk comes on every Saturday night. And there's not much else to do but watch it. 

      It's not bad, but there're all these old people and it's all reruns from the late seventies, and Lawrence Welk is pretty dopey lookin' and he always says "wonderful wonderful" in that familiar unappealing voice. I'm sort of coming in backwardly with a desire to illustrate the need for caricature. I want to really really boil it down to the need. People get caricatures at the amusement parks and they come into it lightheartedly and we somehow come to this idea that it's a frivolous thing, and that's probably to keep our heads in a place where we don't forget that ultimately the humanity and the interaction is of primary importance, but deep down, deep deep down somewhere there is a need that is a need like the need for food, clothing, shelter, love, belonging. And this is where I feel like I might lose you, and that's why I led with the opening bit.
     These little monotonies have some impact. Even if you don't let them get to you and you keep your sanity. Every time you see Lawrence Welk's face on the big box on a Saturday night. And he's got that haircut that he's got and that nose and those crooked teeth. But there he is, and he'll be there again next week at the same time. Deep down within things there's a need for caricatures. Of course nowadays so many people are caught up in all the distractions of the information age, but there are still those stable sorts who keep a tight routine and these sorts of folks will always be around. And these are the sorts of folks who really really dig a good caricature, and if you imagine an archetype rather than a real person, an archetype can appreciate a caricature or even really really enjoy a caricature, but it takes a real person to need one.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My angle on art is that it's a visual thing. it's about visual communication, but I believe it's more than that cuz I'm using written communication to say that, and written communication being visual communication's competitor, I think we can count on it selling visual communication short as much as it can get away with it when you put all the linguistics together. Now if I do manage to communicate my true idea in spite of committing treason against the act of writing in doing so, than it almost seems like my idea can't hold water. But if I don't convince you then I urge you to be wary because it could be because I'm right.

Even the words "visual communication" sound so dull and academic and artless. The point is to get an idea across. And there, "idea" feels so malnourished and sexually depressed. Meanwhile, if I say art, it's almost worse, as I trudge forward through this linguistic sabotage built in from the beginning. "art" is self congratulatory and lazy and greedy and hedonistic.

But the reality that I know because it's the reality that I've experienced is just the opposite. And it's words that frame visual communication in this way and give it a bad name. But it is art that must be beautiful and must communicate. Words are not beautiful for a number of reasons if you need to be convinced. Letters are the most cold and dead of cold dead symbols, and we put them together to make words, also cold and dead, that we put together to make figures of speech, cold and dead, and these are combined to make philosophies, maybe the least cold and dead of all that's cold and dead, but I expect as soon as these have lost their power they will become cold and dead and take the second tier once occupied by figures of speech, and the whole system will be reclassified. Meanwhile the realm of art where from idolatry birthed written characters is alive and well. Be not fooled.

The way we now view television is the way we once viewed movies is the way we once viewed books. It's all candy. Be not fooled. Open your eyes literally, and see beauty and create beauty. There's no better way to live.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

chu..chu lab, chu lab

the biggest coolest thing happening in the world of caricatures is that Eric Goodwin just put out a full length album of songs about live caricatures. if you're a caricature artist, this is wild wild news and you're probably thinking "well,drawing caricatures is an important part of MY life, but who else would ever want to hear crazy songs about live caricatures besides us?" the answer is people. thats who. everybody and there dumb cousin bill are gonna listen to this bizarre beast of an album. i can feel it in my bones. 

whats going on in my world these days is me and saemee are down here drawing at santas in miami. ive been collabing with chua now and then. We've had some awesome customers and have been able to make some fun and different things. if you think the pictures are wacky and full of hutspa, you should have seen the actual people. so now, without further ado, a set of creations, documents, if you will of the couples weve run into. i hope you'll cherish them as much as we cherished making them.

How wild is this mans face. answer: very wild.

Chris drew the guy on the left. me the girl on the right. most of these took about 1 hour. but we always make sure they know they dont gotta sit still like a statue the whole time. mostly theyre very gracious and patient with us with things like holding smiles and stuff. i try to hold a smile with them so we can empathise together. lately ive been able to get chua into doing simple backgrounds. i do a thing i call series1c where i go for the whole body and try to caricature their fashion and stuff. chua's bodies within that world feel so goofy sometimes. i just love it.

look at that banana body just balancing there. 

Miami is definitely the best place for drawing fashion.

ah. names is the other thing. we work the name nice and big into the composition when they go for gettin the name on there. names is just 2 dollars. a steal for how big we make it.

if the clothes or bodies don't strike me and chua starts doing his half with full body, sometimes i'll have to pull this move. but this man had a great face so i got to focus on all its juicy assets. this guy was real funny and relaxed and just the best customer anybody could have. its my sincere hope that this couple comes back again and again and i get to draw him 50 more times. it would also be weird if he ended up on this blog somehow and read this and somehow that lead to him coming back that would maybe be very akward.

this one got one of the better reactions of the past week or so.

two important points to note. we each did the other guys undersketch. and i drew him standing on lots of little circles.

awesome customers. loved their drawing, and i feel like i got her face pretty good.

he had a big gnarly arm and hand and she was very small so we put her in it. one other thing: this air jordan has two basketball arms. one looks like a head on a long neck.

i like this ones atmosphere a lot. and that drop shadow hits the spot.

another undersketch switch.

and this is my fave and the most recent collab weve done. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Cartoons Get Caricatures Too

The Simpsons
"Lisa the Beauty Queen" debuted October 15, 1992

The Simpsons
"Sunday, Cruddy Sunday" debuted January 31, 1999

"Art Burn" debuted April 2, 2001 

Spongebob Squarepants
"Krusty Love" September 6, 2002

Family Guy 
"Play it Again, Brian" which debuted March 2, 2008

Opened on December 23, 2011


"Cartman Finds Love" April 25, 2012


 Bob's Burgers
"Moody Foodie" debuted May 6, 2012 


Gravity Falls

"Mabel's Guide to Art" debuted February 7, 2014 

"Zoo" which debuted on July 3, 2014

Uncle Grandpa
"Hundred Dollar Gus", debuted June 8, 2015

Teen Titans Go!
"The H.I.V.E Five" debuted July 27, 2015




Sunday, January 17, 2016

100 rejects

There's a lot of rejects here. I'm not going to write a little story under every drawing I don't think, but I'll put some little thing things here and there. This first drawing was when I drew some little girls who where at Lotte World (Korean Disney World) without there parents, and I drew the little girls frolicking about. I think Mom rejected this from the comfort of her home.

The poorly drawn bow and peace sign didn't help I'm sure.

Every caricature artist gets rejects now and then. Personally, I want to get better and better at handling them when they happen. 

If a caricature is a type of a joke then it's the same thing like when a joke just doesn't land. It's partly on the joke teller, and he'll say to him self "I shoulda done it this way or that way," and the joke hearer will sometimes take some of it on themselves and be like "I don't get it." So that's the way it goes. 

But then there's the times where the listener is outright offended by a joke and they'll assert that they have a good sense of humor, and claim that the joke being told is offensive. Sometimes the joke teller will react to this —words like "offensive," and chalk up the failure of the joke to the listener being too much of a prude. 

And getting some kind of genuine reaction rather than a golf clap applause is better in many ways, but the point of a caricature is certainly never to make people unhappy.

Sometimes a joke doesn't land. When my joke doesn't land, I take it all kinds of different ways. One way is to understand that I've failed. At the same time I'm hoping it wasn't a total failure. And I'm hoping to learn something, and at the same time I know that the next person who sits down is a completely different thing. Some faces are harder than others. 

But you really can never look at a drawing without seeing the actual customer in real life and say 'of course that was a reject. look at that thing!' because every caricature has two parts. The drawing and the actual person. You're only seeing half of my caricature, so don't judge me too harsh.

Most of my rejects are just drawings that lack pizzazz. Honestly I can't even remember drawing this. I like the upside down witches hat nostrils though.

Drawn from a photo. I think there must be some tradition in Korean culture of giving someone a beautiful picture of themself as a gift. I know there is a thing where you compliment people on their looks as sort of a social kindness. Maybe a gift of a beautiful portrait of that person takes this a step further and says 'look how beautiful you are. See! I keep telling you.' So then people come to a caricature stand, and unless it's abbbbuntalnly clear that the objective is to make fun of the subject's face, issues are going to arise when 
I endeavor to give people the opposite of what they wanted. Yeah, anyway I drew this one from a photo so who knows if it even looks like him.

This is a fun one.

Hair hat
This one was good.

What's wrong with my dragon. Maybe I shoulda gave him wings.

Asymmetrical but not otherwise zany. 

This one shouldna been a reject

This one shoulda and was

Every drawing here has two existences. You see it here, as a picture on a blog with no photo or anything. You don't know the girl. So you say, 'hey! that's pretty nice. why would they not like that.' but the other existence this drawing has is it was a picture meant to represent a person and hopefully make people laugh. In that realm, the person saw my drawing, and they saw their kid, and they saw me, and they decided they didn't want to buy the drawing. Maybe they were offended or maybe they were disappointed. maybe I got a bad likeness, maybe this is actually a drawing of a tall skinny white man. or maybe they they thought the drawing was funny but they just didn't want to hang it on their wall and from looking at the other drawings at the stand they got a notion that somebody at the stand would be able to do a drawing that they would want to hang on their wall.

but i imagine that a caricature can be good and worth it and still not have anything to do with how you want to decorate.

You'll notice an awful lot of peace signs in this batch. 

A peace sign can really help seal the deal.

With some of these I just didn't see it coming.

Didn't see it coming

Didn't see it coming

Didn't see it coming

This is a collab I did with Chris Chua. Chris Chua collab rejects are rare but here's one right here.

What I really don't like is when I do a drawing that would have sold to 99% of little girls and the 1% that I drew it for and who rejected it was the one that it actually looked like. I worded that confusing.  

This is one where you just get in trouble for drawing somebody funny, even though that's supposedly what it's all about. But there's some times when it feels like the likeness wasn't all there, but it feels differently diffferent times. It doesn't always feel like these guys just had no sense of humor, and they came to a place where they needed one, and they didn't have one and I got punished for it.

If I'm working in Korea and a Chinese girl comes up by herself and she's pretty and well put together with makeup and stuff, I know I'm dealing with about as tough a crowd as anyone can deal with. This girl rejected it before she saw it pretty much, and I just watched her get more and more tense, and I just heard some kind of Hitchcock score in the back of my head and her friends were laughing. That's another thing. China is a BIG big place so I don't wanna even say some Chinese people are that way or some are this way, because I have had some VERY good Chinese customers, but there must be SOME cultural nook/cranny in China, from which come caricature customers whos laughter is a very BAD sign. if you don't want rejects. 

and I don't. I really really extremely don't. But the way the customer deals with it goes a long way, and I would say there's no Right way to do it, but I would suggest erring on the side of saying less and don't drag it out. 

Didn't see it coming

Didn't see it coming, believe it or not, mostly because the energy of the crowd was really good at the time.

Didn't see it coming

this one we were drawing at Santas Enchanted Forest in Miami and during the slower time we were just basking in how awesome the crowds were. The customers were loving it and we were able to take our time and I felt like as long as the picture is crazy and enthusiastic. You know what I mean like when you look through all these rejects the underlying theme is how drab and humdrum they all look. So anyway Santa's Forest during the slower time, I came to the conclusion that Miami customers are a different ilk. An awesomer ilk than regular customers. So then the season started to pick up and then it was down right busy and we were all drawing faster. And I started to feel a little more stressed. And then some awesome lookin customers sat down and I was like 'take a breath, eggs' (that's one of my nicknames) I say 'take a breath, eggs. this is santas. just take your time, and make it awesome.' In hindsight I should have spent more time getting the girl's face right, but the guy was cool when he got to the counter. He was just standing there looking at it and then he said "this $*** sucks." And so that was a reject.

Mom stopped me before i was finished, but she handled this one really cool, like in her casual sort of mannerism. within earshot of me she told the artist who drew her other daughter "and i want you to draw her too. he knows its nothing personal.." something like that, but I do like it better when they refuse to pay for a drawing of mine that exists rather than one that doesn't.