Monday, June 17, 2013

2013 Arts Fest... Back by popular demand!

On June 6-9th I drew at my 14th Columbus Arts Festival which was also my 20 year anniversary of my first Arts Fest... and it was good to be back!  Last year I was not "selected" as one of the 3 caricaturists at the event (yes, only three caricaturists for 400,000 people!) but this year I received a lot of great feedback from the new festival director. His leadership showed that he has a good grasp on what makes the Arts Fest great, and I hope to continue working with him for future Arts Fests.  Because of his involvement, I was able to be set up in a high traffic area that provided me with the visibility needed to have nearly non-stop sales over the three day weekend.

In a period of 29 hours I drew over 275 people, with over 135 of those drawn on Saturday. While that's not a record for me, it is in the top 5. (fifth, actually... haha)  I probably could have done a few more had I spent a little less time on each drawing, but I always want to do my best on each and give each customer the max for his/her money. On nearly every drawing, I referenced the Arts Fest in some way, which I believe helps promote the event which I value so much. I also cartoon the people's names on the drawings as well which I know some artists find redundant (it is their face, why do you need their name?), but I feel it adds a bit of a cartoony personal touch to each in addition to the caricature.

It is exhausting, however. My wrist/shoulder were pretty sore and my hand is still recovering (my thumb-tip is still numb... I don't know why that is), and most of that pain comes from the writing part more than the drawing of the faces, but for the cash I earn and the seeds I plant (business cards, caricatures with my website/phone on them) and contacts I make (I've already booked one gig from being there), it is WORTH the pain!

I don't do much retail festival type work.  I have the booth at Huntington Park and do an annual wrestling tournament, and last year did the Greek Festival, but that's about it.  The Arts Fest is by far the most lucrative weekend of the year for me, and it benefits me in so many ways. I also love it because I get to see and meet some great artists and see some friends who drop by and say "hi". This year I didn't have a ton of friends who greeted me, but I did see a few that I hadn't seen in awhile.  That's always nice.

One of those I got to see is a couple that has had a caricature from me at the ballpark every year since year one. They haven't been to the park yet this year, but when they saw me at the Festival, they had to stop by and get drawn.  I did a pretty funny drawing of them this time (I have to keep coming up with new original stuff!), and now that I know their faces, it was pretty easy to capture their likenesses.  If you're reading this by chance Sam and Suze, I hope to draw you again at the ballpark!  At least I know they will stop by and say hi to me when they do come out to a game this year.  Good folks.

I was so busy that I didn't have time to take many pictures, but here are a few photos:

 My set up on the corner of Bicentennial Park. 
Great location with plenty of traffic and access/visibility from all sides.

She had the most beautiful long nose... hard to see in the picture, 
but I loved drawing it. Here's a close up:

Another fun couple. Decent drawing.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Kids vs. Caricaturist

Being a caricaturist, I encounter lots of personalities.  Most people love what I do, a few don't.  Usually the ones who don't get it are the women who still want to be young and thin but no longer are, or the teenage girls who want to be the same person the older women want to be, but for different reasons! But kids are usually not a problem for me.  However, for some reason, I've had a recent run of "kids say the darnedest things" moments!

Last night I drew a caricature of three kids, the youngest, Jack, is six. He looked at the picture after I was done and said "I don't want to look like that!" I felt he was being hard on my drawing skills, so I said, "Sorry, I thought that was how you looked." He said "No, I wanted to look like THIS!" and he screwed up his face to show me a goofy expression. ....guess I didn't draw funny enough for his taste!  Even if Jack wasn't 100% satisfied, I'm happy to say that his mother was. His two sisters also thought I did a great job as well.

I had another complaint over the weekend as well. This time from an eight year old boy. I was at a wedding reception, and my set up was next to the "kids table". I eventually drew all eight of the kids seated there during the course of the evening,  All of them were teenagers, and they all had a good laugh at their own and cousins' caricatures. The only one who didn't "get it" was the youngest one at the table. This kid was just your regular 8 year old blond haired blue-eyed kid with nothing really outstanding to caricature. No bucked teeth or cowlick... just your average kid and the resulting drawing was pretty "normal" by most standards, but for some reason he reacted to it by saying "it's horrible!" and then wouldn't show it to anyone.  No one could understand why he didn't like it, but for some reason he didn't. But it was okay, in the end the hostess showered me with compliments and tipped me well, and most importantly, the bride and groom loved the drawing I did of them. Even the older women and teenage girls loved me. Go figure...

The most common question that kids ask me is "are YOU an ARTIST?" They say it with a bit of awe as if they were asking a really tall person if he is a basketball player or a guy with a hose if he is a fireman. I usually say "yes, isn't that COOL?", but sometimes I mess with them and say "no, I'm a plumber" just to entertain myself with the confused expression I get. But then I confess that yes, I am an artist. They always seem to react with an "I knew it!" expression on their faces, as if the seven-foot guy in the high-tops just HAD to be a basketball player, and the guy with the easel and the fancy pens just HAS to be a real life artist!

The other night at the ballpark a kid came up to me and asked me for my autograph. He even had a Sharpie pen on him. Never mind that I have 50 pens to his one... but he offered me the Sharpie and asked for my autograph. However, he didn't have anything to sign!  I said "where do you want my autograph? On your shirt?" He offered me his chest, but I grabbed one of my own pens and signed the back of my business card and gave that to him instead. Maybe he will have his parents hire me for a birthday party someday... we'll see.  I don't know if he was just goofing around or not, but he seemed serious. You never know these days... kids after a certain age seem to have no qualms about tweaking adults.

My last "kid story" is from a picnic I did for a Head Start program in one of the more poor parts of town. I only mention that it's a poor part of town because it seems that in such areas, the moms really try hard to make their children stand out and be unique, so they start their kids off in life with a unique name. This one woman had five kids and each kid had a name more strange than the last. I wish I had taken photos of all the caricatures I did for that family, but this one stood out the most. Now I usually ask the spelling of just about every name, even the easy ones... but this one really threw me! Poor kid... Meet Malachi. Well, that's how you pronounce his name, but check the "Scrabble Rack Special" spelling:

As usual, comments welcome!