Sunday, September 12, 2010
AFRICAN AMERICAN CARICATURE ARTIST Elgin Bolling
As a busy subwaysurfer slash extreme life drawer on the trains of NYC, I frequently run into people who just cant resist, to my delight, booking me to draw at their party. After seeing me hilariously and quickly draw their fellow commuters quickly, they correctly assume, "hmmmm, if he's THAT good drawing them while they're NOT even paying attention to him, he must really be good drawing them LIVE when they actually know it. And yes, they are right. Ive booked a lot of parties that way, particularly in the Black Community.
I never really thought about it, but a lot of my African American clients have booked me as a result of seeing me draw on the trains. I constantly get the comment, "I've never seen a BLACK MAN do this before," or "I NEVER thought of having an artist for my party before!" Traditionally, us Black Folks LOVE to party! Food is a MUST and of course the DJ HAS to be good! but as far as a caricature artist is concerned.... well, that's something that "other" people do. People who have deeper pockets, or have Bar Bat Mitzvahs.
After quizzing some black folk on why they don't use caricature artists the answer is, "I dont know any black ones". Now on the surface that SOUNDS racist, doesn't it? I mean after all, the ART should be neutral. If artist is skilled, fast, and can make the picture look like you, well, it shouldn't make a difference WHAT color he or she is and YES I AGREE with this viewpoint.
I still think it's GOOD for Black People,African Americans, Colored Folk, to Hire African American Artists, If possible.
IMAGE AND SELF ESTEEM
As People of color,who have been in some ways, marginalized and compartmentalized by society, it's important that we see each other doing other things that traditionally we haven't seen.
It's INSPIRING to Black People, especially children to see an AFRICAN AMERICAN Doctor, Lawyer, Pharmacist, and yes, CARICATURE ARTIST.
When a child, and a people see others in these professions it causes them to drewam. it makes them say, HEY! maybe I can do that TOO!
Because President Obama is in office as of this writing, MILLIONS of Black males are sitting up a little straighter and dreaming a little higher, AND feeling a little better about this country in general.
It warms my heart when a African American child looks at my picture , then says to me,
" I want to be an artist JUST LIKE YOU" when I grow up"
I NEVER get tired of hearing that, and Ive heard it a lot over the years.
One last thing....
One of the reasons that IM a professional Caricature artist TODAY is because of an African American Caricature/cartoonist named OVERTON LLOYD.
Overton drew cartoons for PHARLAMENT FUNKADELIC back in the Day and Gave life to George Clinton's outrageous characters like STARCHILD and SIR NOSE DAVOIDOFFUNK!
Overton drew a caricature of my friend, Dennis at a party and i was amazed that a BLACK MAN did this. I couldn't keep my eyes off the picture! and while I didn't get a chance to be drawn by myself, just SEEING that planted a seed in my little artists heart, that grew up into the "TREE" that I am today.
Dreams DO come true, when BLACK CHILDREN have something or someone to hang them on.