Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Collection 20 Years in the Making & Bidding Adieu to Florida's State Fair

Well, the State Fair of Florida has wrapped up, and I'm headed back to Vegas as you read this (if you read my blog the instant it uploads, WHICH YOU SHOULD). 

One of the real highlights of an otherwise slow, weather-challenged fair was meeting a family of true collectors. Forget cell phone pics, these folks brought a PORTFOLIO of their former caricatures, and even carried the portfolio around in a protective zippered sleeve. 

They kindly let me take some photos and boy did I feel like I hit the mother lode--inside their case they had TWENTY caricatures, dating from 1994 and highlighting their history as a dating couple, married couple, then a family. The styles and likenesses (and skill level) varied, but I recognized a few. What a collage it all added up to!
A roller-coaster background by Alex Hughes and the soft, expert color stylings of Vlad Kolenic stood out as highlights (to my eye) as I paged through. Seeing them all arranged like a quilt, it does make one wonder--how to stand out versus how to provide a reliable, consistent product? Is getting a good likeness enough, especially when so many others out there struggle with just doing that . . . or once you master likeness is the battle really just beginning? What makes a piece "pop" as opposed to just sitting there, fading into the rest of the caricature quilt? Color, composition, expression, energy . . . all of the above? Studying this collage really makes me wonder how I can get some mojo into my work so that one day I might stand out, a little, in someone's 20-year collection. 

Collectors like this provide such a unique opportunity for retail caricature artists. (We are kind of the opposite of gallery artists, who display their body of work and hope some of it sells--we sell our work piece by piece, it goes off into the world, and every once in a while some of it comes back in a "traveling show" such as this so we can see it again!)
The lovely Kathy Samek, a seasoned fair artist, drew up the family's 2014 addition. And judging by the blank sleeves left in their portfolio, they will be back in years to come. 

Working a fair with so many other artists means that sometimes people who are not collectors walk up to the stand and show you the caricature they purchased from around the way. Now, I swore that I was never going to use this blog to badmouth other caricature artists. That's not cool. 
But this guy isn't a caricature artist. 

The folks who got this were experiencing some severe buyer's remorse (as you can tell by the handy commentary one of them is providing as I took the photo). One of the charcoal portrait guys who typically inhabits NYC had set up here and in West Palm, and he had a sign up for $5 "cartoon pictures." With the mat, this couple paid $20 for this, and they are probably still trying to figure out why. 

It was past closing time, I was tired, but gosh darn it, I at least drew them noses rather than identical straight lines. Plus I threw in a free protector and took a few bucks off since they kindly let me photograph them for my blog. Kudos to them for not giving up on caricatures forever after one lousy experience. 

Before I leave the carnival scene, I wanted to share some more fun midway art. And to spice things up (and because I've had time to play with my text-on-photo app), I've arranged them into some caricature "Do's and Don't's" for your amusement. Enjoy!

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