Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Elgin's video testimonial - How to draw caricatures

I was approached to make this commercial for fellow caricature artist/animator Jim van der Keyl Years ago at an NCN Caricature Artist Convention, and was more than happy to do so. In my caricature drawing infancy, when I had zero knowledge, and do connections, Jim's series,which were VHS at the time, and I still HAVE, provided me with structure, useful information, and a point of departure. As a testimony to what I had learned, when I met him years later at The caricature Convention, he asked me, over dinner, to explain my particular approach to drawing caricature TO HIM!! what a compliment and a mind blower to find that I had come full circle. When the teacher asks the student a question, you know that you've learned your lessons well!

Jim has a brand new book out as well that should be part of every serious caricature artists library, I suggest you get it! From what I've seen, it's-an updated version of his teaching series, but on steroids!!!

While we are on the subject of inspirational caricature books,remember that my book,SUBWAY SURFER EXTREME LIFE DRAWING ON DA TRAIN is still available by clicking the link to your right directly above the "FOLLOW"  tag

BEWARE OF "ART TEACHERS" by Subway surfer

Following is my response to a young artist who almost had his dream of becoming a professional artist due to the insults of his art teachers that he couldn't do it because of his inclination and earlier artistic influence in anime, particularly the series Sailor Moon. Not ALL art teachers are bad, but so many of them start fires that burn down the house of other peoples dreams just because THEY are burnt out.

Let me tell you that I was So angry that first off how angry I was when I read your letter. I was SO angry that I felt compelled to answer you immediately, and have literally put my breakfast aside to do just that.
First off, your teachers are FOOLS. I am appalled how people who are PAID to be EDUCATORS can so easily, and coldly "write off" someone's ability to draw based on viewing ONE genre that person is currently working in.  What's equally infuriating is how arrogantly, and contemptuously they can spit on your dreams!!  Finally, for them to conclude in their "wisdom", that you will   NEVER make a career as an artist overflows with imbecility!!
Treat those haters like dandruff on your shoulder,
Brush 'em off.
Develop a thicker skin to critics, trust me, you'll run into a LOT of them.
Having said that, let me take a bite of my eggs and bacon as I continue.
First off, the majority of professional artists get into the profession as a result of an initial introduction by way of a Saturday morning or weekday cartoon.  Even though all children watch and enjoy cartoons, there is always that one kid, like you, like me, and countless others, who take our fascination a step further and want to MAKE what we are seeing and drawing. For you, it was anime, and Sailor Moon. For me, it was Underdog, and the Flintstones.  
Imitation is how we develop hand eye coordination, and confidence as artists.  When your picture comes close to what you are  admiring, you know you're making progress.
Apparently your..." teachers" don't understand how vast and complex the world of anime actually is, and in order to draw it correctly you MUST be a master draftsman .

Think of anime as your entry point into the art world and just another tool in your toolbox.  Photo realism will just be another you will add.  YES it is difficult! Having said that, SO WHAT! Every new skill you have ever acquired in life, involved practice, struggle, and persistence to get it right.  Drawing anime probably didn't SEEM like a struggle to you at first, because you embraced it,and wanted to do it, so you were willing to sacrifice time, energy, sometimes even sleep itself in order to get a drawing just right. The result is that now it 's in " your blood" it is a part of you, and you will never get rid of it, and that is not a bad thing. It's just an artistic influence.

I myself, although I draw caricatures that come close to photo realism, especially when I draw in pencil, nevertheless, my artistic influences come shining through.

You can view my work at


Apply that same energy to realistic drawing. Take a life drawing class. Draw still life pieces,sketch the nude model, go to museums and sketch the statues. You must go at this aggressively. Remember, you don't draw with your hands your draw with your MIND and it's your mind that controls your body.
As for school, no need to quit LEARNING Just quit THOSE TEACHERS.  Go to another school. Become pro active about your own education.  There are now courses you can take online, YouTube tutorials,and of course continuing Ed college courses, art groups etc.  If I could give you any advice at all it would be to forget about the goal and focus on the journey, the present moment. One sketch, one line, another sketch, another line until the picture is done. You Will get better. Winners always do, and you will never be the loser your shortsighted teachers implied

Which has some excellent info.

For additional inspiration you can also purchase my book, SUBWAY SURFER extreme life drawing on da train, that you can find a link to on my site at


Good luck to you.
Happy drawing!