Eric is another one of those intrepid, out in the fringe caricature abstract cubist expressionless that I love so much. Eric's caricatures remind me of a car wreck! There's something so grotesquely compelling about them that I find myself mesmerized, unable to turn away. Eric's caricature interpretations have a "bendable" quality to them. Kinda like a rubber toy being pulled to the extreme! It's what I personally love the most about his work. It appears to be in motion, this rendition of comedian, Jerry Seinfeld, is a perfect example of this caricature cubist masters work.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR ARTISTIC BACKGROUND. WHATS YOUR DOSSIER?
I studied illustration at the Hartford Art School for 4 years and started drawing live caricatures at Six Flags in Massachusetts about a week after I graduated. I spent that summer and the next 2 working at Six Flags and doing occasional gigs and a bunch of craft fairs in the fall and winter. I've had my own caricature stand at 2 different malls in New Hampshire (where I'm from) during 2 Christmas seasons and once during April vacation.
This past summer I drove out to San Diego to work with some of my favorite artists in the world at Sea World. I've currently been drawing a lot at Balboa Park in San Diego by myself or with friends, doing free caricatures for donations.
At the 2010 International Society of Caricature Artists convention, I won my first awards for caricature (besides winning for my Jerry Seinfeld piece on facebook's Caricaturama Showdown 3000): 3rd place for Outstanding Exaggerated Style and Outstanding Abstract/Design Style, and #3 Caricature of the Year for my painting of Derek Brennan. I also won 3rd place for Sick & Twisted at the 2011 Cripple Con (another caricature con).
Oh yeah, and I've done illustration work, both caricature-based and editorial-based, for magazines and websites every now and then as well.
LIKE CHRIS CHUA, YOU ARE ONE OF THE BEST CARICATURE ARTISTS CURRENTLY UTILIZING WHAT I CALL THE CARICATURE CUBISM SLASH ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISTIC EXAGGERATION APPROACH. DID YOU ALWAYS DRAW THIS WAY, OR DID IT JUST EVOLVE?
I've been constantly pushing myself to try new things and to improve overall since I started working at Six Flags. I've worked on improving my exaggeration, likeness, composition, color, funniness, uniqueness, structure, cartooniness, attention to detail and assymmetry; you name it, I've worked on it. Working on caricatures in 3/4 views and profiles came about during my 3rd summer at Six Flags and was like almost starting over, but I knew that all my favorite caricaturists could handle any pose, so I knew I had to break out of my comfort zone. After that summer and a winter season at my own mall caricature stand, I felt myself at the top of my game but also felt that I was becoming a bit too comfortable with the way I was doing things and wanted to learn the way of the Beastheads since they were my biggest inspiration. At this time my art was exaggerated and fairly solid but was mostly done in a frontal view and relied on a rigid formulaic structure that limited the range of how my caricatures could look.
So I moved to San Diego to draw with the Beastheads (Aaron Philby, Nate Kapnicky, Andy Urzua, Brian Oakes and other awesome artists) to learn caricatures all over. Their way of approaching caricature was a lot more based on the "feel" of a person and on creativity instead of always relying on realistic structure and a formula for the face. My caricatures at SeaWorld changed from what I had been doing, but mostly my studio art became a lot more free and creative. I started drawing and painting sometimes cartoony, abstract, surreal, more exaggerated or just all-around different from how I'd approached caricatures before. And it was the most exciting that caricatures had been for me since I first started working at Six Flags and started discovering what was out there. I tried and still try to not develop a certain style; instead I try to make each piece look and feel different from the last. To this day I'm constantly trying to outdo myself in a way that I haven't done before, and it's a helluva fun time I've been having these days!
OBVIOUSLY YOU HAVE TO BE "WIRED A CERTAIN WAY"TO EVEN GET A RECOGNIZABLE LIKENESS AT ALL USING THIS STYLE, WHICH YOU DO CONSISTENTLY, BY THE WAY, WHAT IS YOUR THINKING PROCESS?
Thanks! But my likenesses definitely aren't there 100% of the time. That's the gamble of trying something that's a bit out of your comfort zone every time because it's like exploring the unknown. I'm not sure that you have to be "wired a certain way;" I think it comes down to practice and trial and error more than anything, which is the case for anyone tackling the art of caricature.
When I do approach a caricature in a bit of an abstract way, I think it comes about from trying to capture all of the unique qualities I see in a face in a way that maybe can't be done realistically. I think what can make a piece abstract is simplifying shapes, depicting features at conflicting viewpoints, flattening form and space, using lines to depict separations of form instead of relying solely on value, lighting and color differences and otherwise intentionally changing what exists in reality to accommodate a graphic, design-based or stylistic look. I sometimes like to contradict form by making my lines connect or overlap in a way that doesn't make sense anatomically but that works in a design sense and that looks interesting. Most of this decision-making comes about in the sketching process and can evolve in a couple sketches or (more often than not) take 10-20 sketches to come about. A lot of the time I don't think about the abstraction until I see the sketched lines on paper and think about how they could work together. If my sketches look like they'd work better in a surreal way or illustrative way then I'll go with that approach, so I normally don't try to force a style or approach to a face that won't benefit from it.
ARE YOU INFLUENCED BY OTHER ABSTRACT ART/ARTISTS?
I love the work of Picasso and Dali. They're obvious choices, but their approach and way of thinking is probably just as inspiring as the art itself. I'm really influenced by too many artists to name, but some of my favorites are Ralph Steadman, Steve Brodner, Sebastian Kruger, John Tenniel, the San Diego Beastheads, Kev Jackson, Chris Chua, Marlo Meekins, Dan Hay, Joe Bluhm, Grigor Eftimov, Omar Figueroa Turcios, Stephen Silver, Tomo Tabata, Ty Jones, Chris Singleton, Jeremy Townsend, Joaquín Aldeguer, Seo Kim, Dylan Glynn, Andrea Gerstman, Jorge Barroso, and many others. Some are more abstract than others, but I don't think you can only be influenced by and obsessed with a couple artists while trying to make original art. And listing only abstract artists as my influences wouldn't do the other artists justice, as they're just as influential. And what is abstract art, exactly? Haha just kidding, that's a whole different discussion.
HOW DO PEOPLE REACT TO YOU DEPICTING THEM THIS WAY? ISNT IT SORT OF A RULE TO DEPICT PEOPLE IN A PLEASING MANNER?
When it comes to drawing customers live in an abstract, exaggerated, surreal and/or otherwise creative but "unflattering" way, I almost always get strong reactions that most of the time include a lot of laughter, surprise and sometimes a bit of shock. But I'd say that 90% of the time, people love the drawing. Of course, when I'm at my own mall stand with all my own exaggerated sample drawings hanging up, and I have a fun conversation with the customers while I'm drawing them, the odds of them liking the drawing are very high, especially when they can tell that I enjoyed working on the drawing myself. I'd say that people deserve a lot more credit than you'd think when it comes to being able to laugh at themselves when they're in a friendly environment that encourages having a sense of humor. I stopped holding back on my drawings a while ago and for the most part draw as crazy and jacked-up as I want.
FILL IN THE BLANK:CARICATURE, TO ME, IS...
is an opportunity to capture the essence of a person, including their likeness and feel, in an infinite amount of creative ways.
ANY INTERESTING STORIES INVOLVING YOUR WORK?
I was drawing a couple young kids at Six Flags during either my second or third season while their family watched. It was a boy and a girl, both around 4 or 5 years old, and I was really exaggerating them to hell and doing a really funny drawing. The laughter from the family started slowly at first as they watched me draw and then turned into loud, constant laughter by the time I had started drawing the second kid. At this point the kids were looking a bit sour and upset that everyone was laughing at the drawing so hard, thinking that really the family was making fun of them and laughing at them instead of at the drawing.
After a couple more minutes of non-stop laughter, the kids both jumped off the bench and ran off away from the caricature stand crying loudly. Meanwhile, I wasn't done with the drawing and still needed to airbrush it. A few minutes later the kids slouched back onto the bench, their faces dripping with slowly drying tears. I was able to finish the drawing and the kids were ok with it after seeing it, but that was the only time I've made 2 people cry with 1 drawing. I've made people cry from my drawings a few other times, but never simply because of how much laughter the drawing was getting. And they hadn't even seen the drawing! Pretty epic.
WHAT OTHER THINGS ARE YOU PURSUING WITH YOUR ART?
I'm going to try to get some more illustration work for myself, as that's a really fun and challenging form of art that I've only had experiences with a handful of times. I'm currently trying to figure out what my options are for this summer. In the meantime I'm going to continue to work on studio caricatures, draw live at Balboa park, try to get more caricature gigs and continue to make impression videos of friends and singers. I also just bought Logic, so I'll be making some music too. Staying busy!
EVER HEAR OF THIS SUBWAYSURFER GUY? WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT HIM?
Yeah, I've known of this Subway Surfer guy for at least a couple years now. From what I'm aware of, he surfs subways and draws people a lot. And he draws all funky and crazy, which I like. Seems like he's not afraid to exaggerate a lot, which I like. I hope to meet him someday at a caricature con if he decides to show his face again!