Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Kids 'R Us

Used to be one of the best ways for getting “eyes” to focus on an advertisement, you used a child or a puppy.
They’re both still pretty popular subjects.  No less so for drawing caricatures.
Welcome to the Winter Solstice edition of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.
Having a kids’ party – a birthday, bar/bat mitzvah, graduation, Sweet 16, prom gathering, holiday function or other?

A caricature is a uniquely customized way to capture the moment with personalized art you and your youngster will treasure always.
Here are “live” samples:

And here are display art samples, such as Bat/Bar Mitzvah Sign-In Boards:

As a new grandpa, I’m more attuned than ever to the treasures that children bring to our lives. Caricature art is one more way to celebrate them…

See you the first Tuesday of the New Year for another celebratory Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Steadfast Steadman

Years ago, I received a lovely gift, “The Art of The Times,” a collection of illustrations that accompanied editorial pieces in The New York Times. 

In it, there’s a fascinatingly wide swath of styles and approaches from many contemporary artists, as one might expect in a publication as culturally diverse as The Times.

One of the artists that caught my eye for his truly unique way with a pen is a Brit named Ralph Steadman

Welcome to the November edition of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist from Caricatures by Joel.

I frankly hadn’t thought of him in years -- since I first read the book. Until I was recently watching Anthony Bourdain do his culinary and travelogue thing on CNN, this time in England, and one of the local “colorfuls” he interviewed was Ralph Steadman.

Watching him work at his craft made me realize two things: One, I didn’t know he was still alive and, Two, he is truly an original, with a style both course and lyrical...and slightly nightmarish.

Is it caricature art, per se? I think his work defies categorization. But, as you can see, it’s riveting nonetheless.

From a website devoted to him and his work:

Born in 1936, Ralph Steadman began his career as a cartoonist and through the years diversified into many fields of creativity. Artist, writer, sculptor, cartoonist and designer, he has illustrated such classics as Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and Animal Farm. His books include the studies of Sigmund Freud and Leonardo da Vinci, while with Hunter S. Thompson he collaborated on the birth of GONZO journalism with his classic illustrations for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

While I admire Steadman's one-of-a-kind approach to illustration, I am a more mundane subscriber to "traditional" representational (caricature) art.

Here are some samples of commissioned pieces, both new and old:

Thanks for checking in. See you again the first Tuesday of next month for another ink-stained edition of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Frightfully Funny

Halloween is celebrated later this month. And not just by little kids trick-or-treating around the neighborhood for candy. It’s celebrated by our economy which, in 2015, saw Americans spending roughly $6.9 billion on costumes, decorations and, of course, the sweet stuff. 

Next to Christmas, Halloween is the biggest money generating holiday on our calendar.

Welcome to the October issue of “Not Your Usual Caricature Artist” from Caricatures by Joel.

Horror movies are a big part of the “fun” during this period, as well. And pull in some pretty big numbers on their own. The most profitable “horror film” (though maybe more of a “ghost” flick – a nuanced distinction) is “The Sixth Sense,” at $293 million. Number 2 is “Jaws” (though I considered it more of a gory adventure film) at $260 million. Number 3 is the original “Ghostbusters” at $242 million. Number 4 is “The Exorcist” with earnings of $232 million, followed by the horror comedy “Scary Movie,” at $157 million.

Horror films have been ripe for parodying and satirizing in humor magazines like Mad for decades. Assisting in bringing these fright flicks down a peg or two from their scary perches are the caricature artists who have illustrated these fun pieces. 

Artists like one of my very faves who, just a couple of months ago, passed away -- Jack Davis, (art at the top), with his take on Universal Pictures icons Frankenstein, Dracula, Creature from The Black Lagoon and The Invisible Man.

And then there's product of the UK Paul Garner, with his version of Bela Lugosi's Dracula and Silent Screen star Lon Chaney, Sr.'s vampire:

The great Mad (among other media outlet pubs) artist Tom Richmond is featured here with yet another vampire, German Silent Screener Max Schreck's "Nosferatu."

Here's artist Cowboy-Lucas's rendition of horror superstar Vincent Price:

Now I don't have any works depicting horror movie stars... But I do have caricatures done of kids and adults enjoying, respectively, a Halloween party at Trump National Golf Club, and a Halloween-themed wedding reception!

Join us again the first Tuesday of next month for another bone-chilling edition of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist from Caricatures by Joel.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mad about Jack Davis

Several years ago, I was vacationing in the beautiful, quaint Georgia seaside village of St. Simons Island.

I walked into a pub and saw, adorning the walls throughout the establishment, original works of art – many of them playfully depicting University of Georgia football players and their mascot, the bulldog – by nationally renowned Mad Magazine/film poster/Time magazine/TV Guide/Madison Avenue/et al. caricaturist Jack Davis. 

Both stunned by the serendipity of having discovered this treasure trove of wonderful pieces and perplexed by the realization that they were casually on display at some “random” watering hole, I asked the bartender, “What gives – how did this bar come into acquiring these original works by one of the country’s great, influential, leading caricature artists?”

Nonchalantly, he answered, “because he gave them to us.”

“And why would he do that?” I queried cynically.

“Because he lives here,” was the succinct answer.

Welcome to the August edition of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist with Caricatures by Joel.

Jack Davis, the jowly Southern gentleman who first staked a place six decades ago in the firmament of caricaturists heaven, was summoned finally to that more universally acknowledged celestial abode last week when he died at the age of 91.

Here’s how The New York Times profiled him:

Davis and Mort Drucker were – are – my favorite caricature artists, both customarily found in Mad Magazine. Drucker probably comes first; frankly, I found him to be the better of the two at capturing likenesses. But Davis had the “looser” style, more cartoon-y, more wildly exaggerated and therefore, to my sensibilities, warmer and funnier. And, you can always tell a Davis drawing by the inordinately large shoes his characters wear!

I have often answered to anyone who asks, that my greatest influences in caricature art are those two icons. They knew anatomy, they knew shading, they knew foreshortening, they knew color, they knew pencil, they knew ink, they knew paint. I wish I knew one-third of what they knew (Drucker is still with us, at 87).

Mad’s online site issued this statement:

It is with great sadness that we note the passing…of long-time legendary MAD artist Jack Davis.

Jack was one of the founding members of MAD Magazine’s “Usual Gang of Idiots.” An enormously gifted and versatile artist, Davis’ work appeared in the very first issue of MAD and virtually every issue over the next four decades.

“There wasn’t anything Jack couldn’t do,” said MAD editor John Ficarra. “Front covers, caricatures, sports scenes, monsters — his comedic range was just incredible. His ability to put energy and motion into his drawings, his use of cross-hatching and brush work, and his bold use of color made him truly one of the greats.”

“More than any one piece, it was Jack’s immediately recognizable style that revolutionized comic illustration,” said MAD art director, Sam Viviano. “There is not a humorous illustrator in the past 50 years who hasn’t been influenced by him.”

“Jack will always be remembered for his charming modesty and southern gentleman manner — which completely belied his rascally sense of humor and wry wit,” said Ficarra.

Everyone at MAD and DC Entertainment send their heartfelt condolences to Jack’s wife, Dena, and the entire Davis family.

Jack Davis was born the same year as my Dad and, so, I see him also as representing my Dad’s era – the ground-breaking comic book days of the ‘50s and the heady, creative Madison Avenue days of the ‘60s.  Bygone eras that conjure sweet nostalgic memories for me.

Clearly, I am no Jack Davis.

However, perhaps in these "live" sketches that I've done at various events, you'll see some of his influence in my approach. And if you do, I'm flattered...

See you again the first Tuesday of next month for another mad excursion into the world of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Anatomy of a Caricature Assignment #3

Some time ago I discussed…and illustrated…the process that went into a commissioned caricature drawing – in that case a request by the mother of a bride to draw the girl and her fiancĂ©, for their wedding reception Sign-In Board. This time, it’s also for a couple. But it was at the request of the husband. As a surprise combination anniversary and birthday gift for his bride.

Welcome to the July edition of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist from Caricatures by Joel.

Sergio wanted to show himself and wife Patricia in hiking gear, in a picturesque setting as is their recreational custom to do so. Oh…and somehow show France and Italy on a map, because those are two places that are dear to the two of them (Sergio was born in Italy).

I worked up a pencil sketch, with the two of them in the foreground, with some kind of forested area behind them, and a mountain range in the backdrop.  

Then I thought, how do I indicate France and Italy? So I took the liberty of drawing a globe – the Eastern hemisphere, with Europe prominently indicated – that would hang in the sky, moon-like.

But I was also asked to indicate those countries through icons familiar to the two of them. So I left a space for the Eiffel Tower in France…and a glimpse of an historic castle found in Sergio’s hometown.

Once I settled on that concept, I black-inked the outlines of all the elements (to, frankly, give it the typically bold look of a cartoon -- as opposed to a softer rendering for more "serious" portraiture)…this time doing some nuanced amending of such things as Patricia’s jawline, and what Sergio was to do with his “free” hand. Stick it in his pocket…or give the more visually active “thumbs-up” sign? I chose the latter.

Then, finally, came the color. I had elected to use color pencils for a more “rough-hewn” look given the nature of the subject. And, to further give the art a “mixed-media” look, I inserted Sergio’s photos that he had sent to me as reference for the icons corresponding to their respective locations.

Upon further (continuing?) review, I thought that the background art was battling too much for attention with the two main sujects in the foreground. So I softened the intensity of the color somewhat by using a simple pencil erasor. 

I also noted that the silver in Patricia’s hair was more prominent than not, so I lightened her hair in a similar manner.

And the final art ended up looking like this.

As you can see, caricature art is not limited to drawing guests live at an event. (Though we’re more than happy to do that!)

If you’ve got someone, or someones, in mind – whether it’s a colleague retiring, a child celebrating a bar mitzvah, a couple getting married, a family member having a birthday – a custom-created, one-of-a kind caricature is a meaningful and lasting way to show your appreciation for those individuals with a truly unique gift they'll always treasure.

See you again the first Tuesday of next month for another rendering of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Feast for the Eyes...and Mouth

A little over two years ago, I ran a column in this space on the Palm restaurant -- as famous for its caricatures festooning the walls of its restaurants throughout the country as it is for its renowned gourmet meats and lobster. 

Here's a personal update since this feature first appeared.
Welcome to the June edition of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist from Caricatures by Joel.

According to Wikipedia, here's the background on that festive yet curious marriage of cartoon and culinary arts:

"When Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi opened The Palm Restaurant in 1926, they had no money to decorate. Luckily, their location on Manhattan’s Second Avenue was in close proximity to the headquarters of King Features Syndicate and attracted a large clientele of cartoonists. In exchange for their meals, artists would often draw their own creations on the walls of The Palm.

"Over the years, the tradition of decorating (the) locations with caricatures has continued as (they’ve) expanded across the country and internationally. Before a new restaurant opens, 200 to 300 local notables' likenesses are placed on the walls, and new caricatures of regulars and celebrities are added regularly. Not surprisingly, the most in-demand wall space is at the original Second Avenue location, where only five caricatures are added each year due to space constraints."

Recently, I had the good fortune and privilege to be named by our local Charlotte Palm as their newest artist-in-residence to contribute “portrai-catures,” as I call them, to their famed walls. So far, I’ve got five up (business people; no celebrities yet…), and anticipate more to come.

Here's how they look, individually, and all together on one wall column (mine, with the exception of the second one from the bottom of the group picture).

Whereas virtually all other art adorning the walls has been first produced on some kind of drawing surface and then transferred and affixed to the walls, my directive was to draw directly on the wall. A challenge to be sure, with virtually no margin for error.

Oh well, Michaelangelo didn't have White-Out at his disposal, either.

In any event, this is certainly an apex of my career, and I am most appreciative for the opportunity.

Do you dine often at The Palm?  Who knows, you may be in my sights next…

See you the first Tuesday of next month, when you will again have virtually in the Palm of your hand, the next Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Group Effort

Who’s up for a group hug?

Sure, I’m usually asked to draw individuals – men, women, kids…sometimes animals with men, women and kids.

But every now and then I get a request, usually from some corporate entity, to draw a group of individuals.

Maybe it’s intended as a gift memento to one of the group members, as a send-off to retirement.

Maybe it’s something to hang in the office as a testimony to teamwork throughout the year, and the morale-inspiring boost it gives to that team.

Or maybe it’s used as a light-hearted visual for a greeting card to send to clients, prospects and industry colleagues for the holidays – to remain top of mind with that audience/market.

Welcome to the May issue of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist from Caricatures by Joel.

Let these samples be a unique inspiration for you to consider similar approaches to doing business with your constituents.

This piece was commissioned by Duke Energy to gift their outgoing chairman and CEO, Jim Rogers.

This piece was created for The Wellness Plan, former Charlotte-area HMO, to showcase their staff as they welcomed key brokers to a gala dinner.

The following is a holiday card with Mcyntire Food Services staff doing the festive greetings.

This was a business magazine illustration, of representatives from different companies "in the profit-sharing swim."

Finally, did I say sometimes I've even drawn animals? 

This example is for a sales manager consultant who, for his newsletters, occasionally punctuates them with a cartoon positioning lions (sales force) vs. the lion tamer  (sales manager).

Catch our act again next month, with a brand new edition of Not Your Usual Caricature Artist.