Growing up in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the Star Wars movies were a staple of my childhood. Once I graduated from college and entered the mundane, everyday reality of adult life, I seemed to have a growing desire to re-capture various elements from my childhood. Thus, as a caricature artist just trying to make a living, some of my earliest celebrity samples at our theme park stand were of Star Wars actors. I even thought to draw “The Maker” himself, George Lucas… …TWICE. While both caricatures of Lucas were most often greeted with a “Who’s THAT supposed to be?”…the drawings featuring the stars of the movies were getting plenty of recognition and attention from our customers, as well as from people passing by. This was mostly thanks to the theatrical re-releases of the Original Trilogy (the infamous “Special Editions”), which were introducing the then-20-year-old franchise to the kids of the late 1990s. And as the Star Wars train chugged along, I continued drawing those same actors again and again. For pure enjoyment. Even THIS could be qualified as a Star Wars caricature… On the pop culture landscape of that era, all of this nostalgia-fueled resurgence in Star Wars was merely the tip of the iceberg. The REAL event was yet to come, for audiences all over the world were being primed for a brand-spanking NEW trilogy of movies from the mind of Mr. Lucas.Rumor had it that these stories would take place BEFORE Luke Skywalker was even born, and show how Luke’s father became the evil Darth Vader. So, in the summer of 1999, the first movie came……and I kept drawing the characters. Over and over. It sounds very silly to say this now, but I probably saw “Episode I: The Phantom Menace” in theaters at least 10 times. Really. Over the next year and a half, I remained absolutely jazzed about these new Star Wars films (later dubbed the “Prequel Trilogy”). I remember at least 2 more drawings I did back in those days (but alas, couldn’t find so I could show you). One was of the slobbering Gungan character, Boss Nass (I know…he’s a digital CREATURE…not the same as caricaturing a flesh-n-blood actor). Another one (which was left unfinished…similar to the Liam Neeson caricature above) was of kid actor Jake Lloyd attempting to peek under the skirt of Natalie Portman, in one of her outrageous costumes. Flash forward to 2002, and we got the 2nd movie, called “Attack of the Clones”. And I eagerly began digging into caricatures of THOSE actors (strangely, many of whom were in the previous movie, but with different costumes and/or age makeup). By this time, the Prequel movies had begun to develop quite an unsavory reputation. But I didn’t care. I was into it. And then, in 2005, we got the wrap-up movie, “Revenge of the Sith”. Again, this was still a movie series I was heavily into, at the time. I totally bought it, hook, line and sinker. Over the next 5 years, certain things in my life began to change. I became bored and/or disgusted with using the airbrush as a medium. I drew fewer and fewer celebrity caricatures, mainly due to a much slimmer diet of Hollywood and movie news. My focus shifted away from collecting toys and DVDs. And, perhaps most importantly, I spent some time living in Korea. Once while working overseas, I attempted another Star Wars caricature. It was a return to the classic characters of the Original Trilogy, the one that I grew up on. Unfortunately, I never finished it; guess it didn’t seem like a drawing that excited me. I DID, however, begin a NEW Star Wars drawing just a few months ago…and I very much intend to finish this one! Now…as I type this…ANOTHER new Star Wars film is about to be unleashed upon the world in a matter of days. As it happens, I’m also just days away from my 43rd birthday. And I find myself at a bit of a crossroads. Last year, I watched a very in-depth series of YouTube videos about the Prequels…which caused me to completely change my mind, and to disavow my previous love for them. Objectively, I can simply no longer deny that those are horrible films (Sorry, George). As for those original movies from long ago (at least the first 2)…well, it seems that I’ll ALWAYS have a soft spot for them, because I was such wee lad when they first came around. Even if these new Disney flicks are totally fun and enjoyable, I kind of doubt that I will really have a strong desire to follow each future installment. Getting excited about a new Star Wars trilogy is something I’ve already done…TWICE…in one lifetime. For me, I can’t help but feel like that (space)ship has sailed, and that it’s time for me to move on.
For most people, summer at an amusement park means rides, junk food, and fun, fun, FUN! For me, however, summer at an amusement park usually means heat, crowds….and WORK. Much of my career has been spent working at theme parks, like Six Flags and Universal Studios. I spent 3 of those summers working at Lotte World…a huge and popular theme park in Seoul, Korea. Unlike most parks of its kind, Lotte World has 2 sections: an indoor area AND an outdoor area! For most of the time I stayed in Korea, our company, Fun Caricature, had 2 caricature locations…both of them indoors. The indoor locations were GREAT, in that you NEVER, EVER had to worry about the weather outside! It also meant you could stay open year-round! The only problem with one of those locations was that it was located right across from a smoking room (which is exactly like what you might think it would be). Sometimes, the cigarette odor drifted into our caricature stand, and for a while, it was pretty awful. Thankfully, that area was blocked off during my last year in Korea, and I’m happy to report that the caricature location has been smoke-free ever since! YAAAAYYY!!
The management at Lotte World was usually pretty happy with our work, and the revenue we brought in. They offered my boss a 3rd location, and for 2 summers, we tried drawing caricatures in “Magic Island”…the outdoor section of Lotte World, with attractions like the Comet Express and the Gyro Drop. Our location was pretty visible, and right along the main pathway. Unfortunately, it was also right next to a kids’ motorized car ride, and many people walking by thought that our caricature booth contained the entrance to the ride. As the sun would set in the evening, it would often cause problems with visibility. Fortunately, our boss (Yonie) and our manager (Won Young) really loved us, and did everything they could to take care of their artists! They installed this really cool giant umbrella to shield us from the sun. Still, a person could only do so much to avoid the heat. Eventually, it would get to you, as it did to me one day, inspiring me to draw this little comic strip thing. Of course, the above artwork is a parody of the old Kool-Aid commercials from the ’70s and ’80s (using 7-Eleven’s “Big Gulp” as a stand-n for Kool-Aid Man). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBzPhKaLkWE
Sadly, our company didn’t quite do well enough at this outdoor location, so after 2 summers, we closed it for good. The indoor locations remain open, though—as they have been since 2010—and are still operating to this day!!
For more information about Lotte World, visit the following link: http://global.lotteworld.com/main.asp
And for more information on Yonie Woo’s Fun Caricature, check out THIS link: http://cafe.naver.com/funcaricature
The First Mini Con in Singapore was a success!! I spent a week in a beautiful country, along with many friends, both old & new.
Here is the artwork I was able to produce in a couple of days.
Now here are the subjects, along with their drawings. First up is Insyirah, one of the Mini Con helpers, from Singapore.
Next, here’s Eri, a fun, sunny artist from Japan.
This is Peggy, a new friend from Taiwan.
And last, here is the trio of Mel (from Texas), David (from Hong Kong), and Etsuko (from Japan).
I very randomly decided to put these 3 into a single drawing, based mostly on the fact that both Mel & David are rather tall, while Etsuko is very short.
Here are a few of my recent live drawings.
The first 2 are from a trade show I worked a couple of weeks ago. It was a 1970s-themed event. So basically, all I had to do was to draw people in semi-outrageous clothing. This 3rd image is from Saturday at the mall. The girl was rather horrified by the result, but I THINK the guy was OK with it. These folks were quite possibly the ONLY child-free couple I drew all weekend. So OF COURSE, I had to cut loose a bit and have some fun with them.
Here’s another step-by-step color process. This time, we have my buddy Steve Hearn from London! We’ll begin with a finished, inked, black & white drawing (Steve is English, and folks over there tend to say “CHEERS” a lot…hence the silly gag). Next, the first bit of color, concentrating mostly on the flesh tones. Now for a bit of modeling on the flesh, adding shadows and contrast. Let’s add a bit more red (well, PINK, actually) to the skin, so as not to have Steve’s skin look too pale. And finally, some simple, finishing details in the hair, clothing, and background. VOILA! We’re done!!
The weekend of April 9-12, 2015, was the Main Street Art Festival in downtown Fort Worth. This is an annual event, where artists of all types can display & sell their work. Because there’s no admission charge (the vendors just set up on various sections of the street, which are blocked to oncoming traffic), a ton of people usually attend this event each year. Of course, this makes for an EXCELLENT opportunity to draw caricatures!! A total of 7 artists (myself included) pooled together their resources, materials, and funding (for the Festival’s entry fee), as we covered 2 separate locations over 4 days. The first day was, by far, the slowest (it was a Thursday, and kids didn’t get out of school till more than halfway through the work day). Still, we managed to make the most of it. Thursday was ALSO the day when OUT OF NOWHERE, we endured a brief—but strong—thunderstorm!! Dan, Amy, & I were literally holding down the fort, trying to keep our paper and electrical equipment from getting pounded by the rain that managed to blow its way into our small-but-sturdy little tent! After about 45 minutes, the the weather returned to normal, and patrons roamed the streets once again, well into the evening. Fortunately—and miraculously—Mother Nature proved to be VERY cooperative for the entire remainder of the weekend, and all of us enjoyed what turned out to be a profitable venture. Yaaaaaaaaayyy!!!
Only 2 more months until I head to Singapore for their VERY FIRST Mini Con! I’ve registered, and reserved a hotel room for the week! Now, I just have to book my FLIGHT (the most expensive part)…but prices looked pretty good when I last checked a few weeks ago!