SideKick Caricatures

Can you draw from a photo?

Yes, the quality of the photo will determine the quality of the caricature. I always use the "rule of thumb": If you put your thumb over the face in the photo you want drawn and your thumb is the same size or bigger than the face, you'll probably want to use a different photo. People often ask if I can put more than one person in a drawing if the photos are individual. The answer is yes. As long as I have the best face shots you can give me, there's really no limit to what can be done. I've had people give me lots of different things for reference. For example, somebody once wanted a horse in a certain position - bucking someone off the back. She found a toy horse (like a little one inch thing) in the exact position and that worked great. Toys are good for reference material because they're small and I can hold them in my hand as I draw. Also, they mostly have a cartoonish quality to them to begin with. Sometimes people give me photos of the team's uniforms or they cut out pictures from magazines of a certain car or boat they want in the background.

Do people ever get "mad" at you for the way you make them look?

I think "mad" isn't a good word. Most people understand that if they sit in front of me, it's not going to be a portrait. When I'm finished with the drawing and I hold it up, I can tell by their first reaction (most of the time) what they think of it. Generally, people stare for a second and then bust up laughing. Sometimes, they'll shake their head and smile. Others, who didn't want to do it in the first place (but were nagged into it) might sit there with no reaction at all. Anytime you're drawing someone's face and posture, it's a very sensitive thing ,whether it is a portrait or a caricature. I realize that and try to be very responsible with that power because if you let yourself have an "off" moment, you can really hurt someone's feelings. I would say especially children. But I think all of us, children, old people, and everyone in between want to feel like we're attractive and cute. Nobody wants to be ugly.

Does your hand ever hurt?

Well, it must be a good question because I constantly get asked this. I'm right handed and since I can't even remember when, I've drawn and written. Sometimes, for hours straight. God just put that drive in me to express myself that way, and so, like a runner has strong leg muscles and a singer develops her vocal chords...I've developed my trusty old hand to do what I need it to do. On the flip side of that, airbrushing did not come to me naturally. Sometimes holding the bottles and airbrush and working the trigger, all with the same hand, gets a little uncomfortable after a long day. So I guess I could say sometimes I need to stretch "ol righty" out a little.

Do you meet the famous people you've drawn?

It would be fun to say yes, but I'd be lying. I get my sources from tv and magazines.

How can a person get started doing this?

Well, having some natural ability will really help. If it's something you just want to do for fun, there are lots of books on caricatures. If you're wanting a job doing it, you just have to jump in with both feet. I would suggest visiting a local amusement park (most have caricatures these days), find out who's in charge of caricatures and talk to that person. More than likely, if you're really serious, they'll start you as soon as they can. Then as you grow in your abilities and confidence with people watching you and reacting positively and negatively, you can see your future more clearly. From that point, you may discover that you want to study animation, or maybe, go more into airbrushing t-shirts or cars, or maybe, you'll do like I did and move closer to my hometown so I could continue doing caricatures as a freelance artist, which also makes me available for other related projects. Mainly, you just have to love it to do it, because I won't lie to you, there is work involved. But the prices you pay along the way are always rewarded. It's worth it.

Did you go to school for this?

No, I didn't. I've drawn for as long as I can remember and I've always drawn people. That part always came pretty easily to me. I had to learn to airbrush. I always compare airbrushing to playing the guitar or driving a stick shift. At first, it's hard to learn, but once you know how to do it, the object becomes a tool and all you have to do is know where you want it to go. Without passion, you won't go very far with any type of art because it takes a deep commitment and love of your art to overcome all of the obstacles. And believe me, there are obstacles. So the key is practice and never give up.