Friday, April 7, 2017

How Being a Disney World Caricature Artist Changed My Art Outlook

I shared this post initially to my email list, but wanted to make sure others got a chance to read it, too. You can sign up for my email list and get previews of my artworks before they go up for sale to the public by signing up here.

"Dots," acrylic on cradled panel in a handcrafted floater frame, 6" x 12". SOLD

 Art is, and should be, a very personal thing, both for the artist and for the viewer. While a mysterious landscape or exceptional portrait can momentarily move me, I am most frequently drawn to the paintings that make me smile, laugh or reminisce about a pleasant memory, which is why I paint what I paint - toys, candy, bright colors and quirky trompe l'oeil. For this, I owe a great deal of inspiration to my time as a caricature artist at Walt Disney World.

When I first began painting in college, I had no idea what to paint - and I was a pretty terrible artist then, too! I painted the usual painting exercises - vases, plastic skulls, copies of master works, but I didn't have any vision, and so I gradually lost interest in my work. Not long after graduating, a very gracious lady decided to give me an opportunity to work as a caricature artist at Animal Kingdom, one of the four Walt Disney World theme parks. She did this, despite the fact that I had no colorful or funny works in my portfolio - just dark, brooding, 20-something tortured artist works. This was, I suppose, a moment that changed my whole outlook on making art.

All day, I'd shout and point to the children and families walking by - as I was trained to do - "You'd make a great cartoon! YOU'D make a great cartoon." Doing dozens and dozens of drawings of people every day, making them look cute or funny, my goal was always to make the person sitting and their families laugh at just how adorable they were. It fed my creativity and enthusiasm, and I wanted to get better and better, and make better work, get more creative, and produce things faster.

While I had a long hiatus from making art not long after that job until just a couple of years ago, I often think back on how much I learned there about making fun art that makes people smile. Life can be a bit too serious sometimes, so if I can make art that momentarily removes viewers from our super-serious world and feel what it's like to be an imaginative kid again, full of wonder and fun and color, then I'm a happy camper.