Two very different but accomplished caricature artists:
one self taught right from the New York Subways,
the other formally taught and established
Caricature and Drawing Newsletter for March, 2007
This newsletter is reproduced here courtesy of YouCanDraw.com -
Once and for all getting you drawing faces and caricatures:
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Your March 2007 YouCanDraw.com Communiqué
today I just want to show you two different caricaturists today. One is New York City's Elgin Bolling - a YouCanDraw alumnus / member for many years and a "Party Entertainer", street hip type caricaturist. The other is Chicago studio caricaturist Jason Seiler. Both can do both but both seem to have settled into one camp more than the other. I think Elgin's story is especially interesting and I'll let you you check out his web site but I'll let you in our email conversation -- plus I'd like to show you some really neat stuff at his site.
I should also add that Elgin has become quite the webmaster-maniac - he's posted his daily NYC subway
drawings on the web for the whole world to see. Talk about an undertaking!
Elgin Bolling's Story
A few weeks ago I got this short email from "Subway Surfer" Elgin (it had been a couple years since I'd heard from him):
"Just look what I can do NOW.
That's all it said. I breezed rapidly through his site to get an idea and this is what I wrote back.
Pretty much word for word:
Subject: Re: Remember ME? Elgin Bolling
"Oh ma gawd!
I have just been absolutely blown out of the water! Dude you are unbelievable. I am so humbled.
Elgin your site is nothing short of amazing, exhaustive, entertaining, endlessly interesting,
a diary on NYC subways & NYC, you're a live action artist / entertainer / teacher / observer and diplomat
of the human condition...and did I say the site is gargantuan? MA Bruther! Wow. I am so impressed man.
It's about so much more than caricaturing, Elgin.
How long do you spend doing this everyday? What can I tell my readers?
A link to your site will be at the top of next newsletter. Period. You'll inspire
everyone on my list.
You've really focused.... you've.... really re-inspired me Elgin. I'll be heading back more than once
to really explore it.
Thanks so much for sending me a message Elgin.
STAY in Touch man!
PS - feel free to use any part of this as a testimonial Elgin. I'm still shaking my head in disbelief.
Here's what Elgin wrote back:
Subject: Re: Remember ME? Elgin Bolling
Jeff, I'm glad that you can see that I gave you the pleasure of seeing that one of your "kids" did good.
Your material was instrumental in helping me to develop myself as a caricature artist, and gave me the much needed foundational tools that I NEEDED in those early days of my career.
I draw EVERYDAY for at least three hours. Sometimes that drawing is caricature, other times cartooning, sometimes even doing still life or interiors, and of course, when I have a freelance assignment, that becomes a part of practice as well.
The subwaysurfing came out of wanting to keep busy and warm up on my way to my live caricature gigs. I would draw people on the buses trains etc. so I could pass the time productively, since an average commute was about two hours. It got to the point though that I became so addicted to subwaysurfiing as I call it , that I would do it EVERYTIME I rode the trains, and sometimes I would even ride just to do that.
Of course you can tell your readers what I'm saying to you, but if you tell them anything, tell them this:
When I "discovered" Jeff on the Internet years ago I had a dream of drawing those funny pictures that I'd seen in magazines, and at parties, but didn't have a clue of how to do this. At the time there was NO information on the subject, and my attempts at doing this were shots in the dark. I had SOME skill as an artist, but not enough to really make me feel confident to do this as a living.
Then I ordered the CD and that began to change.
It sounds corny to say that you can achieve your dreams, but its true. It really is. If you have persistence, imagination, guidance, and access to the right tools (like you get on your site) than you can not only DO this, but you can make money at this. Few things are as satisfying as being able to make money with your own two hands using your talent to make a way for you in this world. I did it, and am doing it, and Jeff CAN help you to do it to if you will listen. I'm NOT getting paid to write this, I'm saying it out of gratitude."
And here's a snippet of the last email I sent:
"Man, you are getting me choked up.
Elgin I'd love to put this whole email up - not for the parts where
you say all those great things about me (but that's still pretty sweet :-)...
...I know I might have been one small ingredient in the overall / bigger picture of
one determined Elgin Bolling, who doesn't take "no" for an answer and keeps
on trying and experimenting - and following his gut. You knew you could crack the
caricature / artist egg even if at first you weren't sure where to start.. And what a
great story about drawing on the trains - hours and hours a day. A man
on a mission! (And I haven't forgot about your teaching in NYC or
Brooklyn(?) schools). Yours is such an inspirational story.
We got to get you on OPrah!...
....I went back to your site just a few minutes ago and I was just really enjoying
the gesture drawings, the blue line pre-sketching, then the finishing inking; and
I love the comments you make - the very astute observations about people and
personality. And you write like a writer which so many visual artists just cannot do.
[or won't spend the time to learn, or just don't have the interest..to each his/her own :-)]
And the just plain professional LOOK of the drawings (they look like the books
you buy at Barnes and Nobles, or Tom Richmonds - except they're all Elgin Bolling)
- the whole thing. I'm blown away. And did I say inspired?"
I think YouCanDraw may have been a spoke in Elgin's artistic education, but he really is self taught
and he's taught himself not by going to expensive art schools or having formal education, he's a true "DIY" -
a true "do-it-your-selfer" who grabbed himself by the bootstraps. He spends hours a day on the train observing, reacting, drawing his observations, sketching, trying this out, trying that out. With resolve and determination he's "gotten it" and continues to get it. Is that inspiring or what? Sure made my day :-)
Here's some neat links at his site:
Great technique tips: http://subwaysurfer.com/drawing tips On this page you'll see Elgin's use of
blue pencil for gesture drawing outlines (Why blue pencil? Because it allows you to rehearse your drawing, to plan a more in-depth work before you commit it to ink or a permanent medium to the paper AND blue pencil becomes nearly invisible when you photocopy it.
Meet Elgin: A page of Elgin caricatures done by both amateur and world famous caricaturists (such
as Jan Opdebeeck) http://subwaysurfer.com/?page_id=40
An example of one of Elgin's "monster" pages -- just one great picture after another. make sure you click on
the "next page" link at the bottom too :-) http://subwaysurfer.com/?m=200507 It just keeps going and going.
Also check out the table of contents at the top of each page - there's great ideas there for alternate avenues
caricature artists can take that go beyond drawing at parties - for instance Storyboarding. Did you know that
all Hollywood movies are storyboarded before one shot is ever shot? (What's a storyboard? It's a series of
drawings that show the direction of action, the steps the actors will take, the kind of action they'll perform,
close ups, landscape sweeps, car chases, love scenes, camera height, and camera angles. All that has to
be planned out visually on paper ahead of time so everyone involved can be prepared for the next shot. And
who does the storyboards? Well, caricaturists of course :-) http://subwaysurfer.com/?page_id=169
Go check out Elgin's site and see if it doesn't get you all fired up! http://subwaysurfer.com/
Next: Jason Seiler
Here's a more formally trained artist. Chicago's Jason Seiler. What is remarkable is the fearlessness Jason has for moving between all sorts of media - and as remarkable is the marksmanship with which he captures a likeness. He'll use pen on watercolor paper then do watercolor washes or he'll rough it in in pencil and paint over it in acrylic or oil. He'll use straight pencil or cross hatch or outline the areas of shadow / highlight and paint it in later. He's the true Fine Artist's Fine Artist.
He'll use toned paper and pastel with pen or pencil or ink, or gouache. If it makes a mark on the paper
Jason uses it.
He'll go for photo realism or super-loose fun shots. It doesn't t matter: he gets his idea down on the
paper as it comes to him and goes through the refinibng stage two, three, or more times later until he nails it.
Here's jason's Blog address -- make sure you click on the pictures to get larger, more detailed versions: http://www.jasonseilerillustration.blogspot.com/
Check out his whole site here: http://www.jasonseiler.com/ .
Moral of today's story
So folks it can work either way for you: expensive, formal training or entirely self taught: if you have the desire you can learn this!
Well, folks i got to go dig out the car -- we've gotten two snow stroms in a row here that are dropping well over a foot of snow in each (possibly 20 inches today -- yes twenty -- which can't hold a candle to what Oswego New York got a few weeks ago (120 inches !) , but 30+ inches still slows everything down :-)
Stay warm, dry, cool, whatever is the most pleasant for you !
And keep on drawing.
PS - might any of you know wher to get a light bulb for a Umax Powerlook II Scanner?