Why is it...

That whenever somebody I meet or talk to who has no interest in art or who is art-illiterate, will ALWAYS say to me, when finding out that I am an artist, "Hey you know what you oughta do? Go work at Six Flags or some amusement park and do those funny caricatures! You could get some big bucks working there! Naw, I'm serious! You should!"

No lie. Every. Single. Time. People.

I guess that's the only connection that type of person will ever have in regards to art: those stinkin' big-headed caricatures and those airbrushed t-shirts of the sunset on a beach with you and your sweetie's name in script. That's what we artists are resorted to, guys. That's what the outside world sees of us. We are here to forever draw big heads. And sunsets.


  1. I've had that line thrown at me by well-meaning(!)relatives and others since I was about 15...somehow I knew it wasn't just me. There's some comfort there. Don't know why. Sharing the pain, I guess.

    I think it's more "cartoonist=big-head caricatures!" rather than "artist=big-head caricatures"--animators and animation being forever entwined with comic strips, those spot cartoons in the back of tabloids, and yeah, the amusement park caricatures in Joe Public's mind. Why on earth anyone would think a person could get rich, much less make an actual living, doing that stuff is mind boggling.

    My pet peeve, as a graphic artist,specifcally a story artist for years-is that because I'm "an artist" I'm always expected by distant family to somehow be proficient at oil painting landscapes, painting a baby's room, designing a chair, etc. Weird.

  2. Omigosh, the landscapes. How could I forget the landscapes? It is funny, isn't it? People are funny.

    It's true. The same thing happens to me. Actually, most comments are one of the following three:
    1. The Six Flags comment
    2. "Have you ever thought of being a court room sketch artist?"
    3. After explaining to a relative what it was that I did (traditional animation) and giving him ample exampls of traditional animation (Snow White, Lion King, and other Disney films) he turns to me and says "Well, you just draw me something real funny to read in the Sunday paper."
    At least I try.

  4. Well glad to hear others have the same remarks to deal with. Though the questions to do something for them about them are far more trickier.. how to say politely no, since whatever you make it won't be what they want..

  5. I've had people say "draw me a picture and don't forget to sign it. It'll be worth a fortune!" Or when you're trying to explain the great new technique you've come up with for your short film and you eventually have to dumb it down to "Yes. It's like the Simpsons" just to end the conversation.

  6. Ha, ha, ha, you poor guy! At least they are not telling you that you "should do childrens' books"!!! Hee,hee,hee!

  7. Some people will never understand artist's and that's their problem I say.

  8. Alas, A problem every artist has.

  9. It's not a problem artists have. It's a problem the poor buggers who comment thus have. The people doing caricatures at the mall is unfortunately the only contact these people have with art. Great Blog btw.

  10. Funny thing is, I've gotten everything from murals to comic strips to graphic design, when people find out I'm an animator, but no one has ever recommended I get into drawing caricatures at Six Flags. And you wouldn't believe how many people in my hometown automatically assume I work for Disney. But my personal favorite thing is telling my family and friends that I've been animating the COMMERCIALS on Cartoon Network rather than the actual shows; I break it down into the simplest(and briefest) of terms only to have them turn to an episode of the Power Puff Girls and say "So what did you do here?"

    "(sigh)...All of it."

  11. Great blog! I am no artist(in the visual arts sense), but I can relate. Writing is my "art" and of course I run into the same folk. Whenever people find out I write they always ask "What do you write Harlequin Romances?" Or the other one I love is "...write me a poem." The third gem is when complete strangers say "When you write the sequel to Walden, can I be a character?" All the while I'm thinking "You already are..."

  12. "Blargh!," say I to these foolhardy ass-pirates,"Ya best be recoginizin' ye here art or you'll be seein' the tip on my paintbrush/pen/needle/stylus from the inside of yer eye!"

  13. Bull's Eye Sir! May be we should after all... =]

  14. Not really pertinent to the topic of this post, but I thought I'd comment here as it's the most recent...

    You may have noticed this (although I've not read a post mentioning it) but you're currently listed in blogger.com's list of "Blogs of Note" (added on 18/01/05 - 01/18/05 for americans out there)

    My pet peeve, kinda linked to the topic of this post is as soon as you mention that you work on a computer, friends and relatives will immediately ask you to fix their printer/monitor/computer.

    Or the people who, when I explain what I do (I'm a Shake artist with a strong technical background) ask me if I use MSPain (sorry... MSPaint...) for it...

  15. "Ha, ha, ha, you poor guy! At least they are not telling you that you "should do childrens' books"!!! Hee,hee,hee!"

    Have you any idea the HUGE illustrators who have "slummed it" doing children's books? Remember that Peter De Seve, William Joyce, Chris Van Allsberg(sp) are all well known illustrators/storytellers who have worked in one way or another in the realm of film and animation. There are others too numerous to mention who have made this crossover as well. I understand that animators would generally rather be animating and not illustrating but, still...

    And caricature of the variety seen at Six Flags is the art equivalent to funnel cakes and equally as good for you...

  16. My favorite is when people find out I'm an artist, they ask me questions about decorating rooms & clothing.

    And then I just feed them a total line of crap. "Why, of *course* those stripes and polkadots go together. Trust me, neon green and dark red are the *new black*. It'll look *marvelous*, trust me."

    Stops 'em right cold.

  17. yes childrens books and greeting cards. "your work would be hilarious on greeting cards!, i would totally buy them!" um so why dont you buy my drawing then? cheap bastards...my favorite is "why dont you make paintings of flowers just so you can sell them and make a little extra money?" i usually tell them i hate flowers when thay say that.

  18. You know, it's those kind of comments in my youth that drove me never draw/sketch/work in the direct company of others. I can remember sitting at a desk or table, minding my own business and someone would inevitably hover over me and ask that timeless question--"what ya drawin'?" This would of course, be followed by me trying to explain my idea, but only half-heartedly and eventually talking myself right out of whatever direction I was going in.

  19. I work for a publishing company in the production department and am surrounded by artists. I have to agree they get some odd comments. My favorites ('cause they're not directed at me) are the ones where they're given a stick figure drawing, some garbled instructions that usually involves mega arm waving and then a grin at the end with a gleeful "Can you do that?" You poor guys... My sypmathies!

  20. Ward, I forgot to tell you last night after the movie, you know what you oughtta do with your art?

    there is this booth right next to the monster plantation at six flags...they draw people real good...

  21. There's no real defense for the layperson's dumbing down of professional art; expecting an animator to be proficient or even remotely interested in caricature/screen printing/sock puppets/etc. is no different than expecting a podiatrist to know how to perform open-heart surgery (they're both doctors, right?)
    I've always found it best to cherish what you do in private, and bemoan it constantly in public. Keeps folks from asking for drawings. It's also not such a bad thing to hate what you do for a living just a little; helps to keep the blinders at bay.

  22. Ouch, you cut me deep there Ward. As a veteran of the Six Flags team of Fasen Arts caricaturists I resent the implication that we did big head/little body caricature like some talentless fairground "one minute caricature" formulaic huckster. We did head, neck and shoulders caricatures with personality! My manager had even drawn with and learned from Al Hirschfeld and Sebastian Kruger among others and was an extremely tallented and gracious artist.

    Plus the money was actually pretty decent (usually $400-$500 a week plus tips, or more durring special events). Hell, I set up shop on the Savannah Georgia riverfront for two hours durring St. Patrick's day and made over $200 in two hours worth of work, pure profit.

    Now, I do love cartooning, illustration and animation, but I have a lot of pride in my ability to caricature. It's a dificult thing to do well and I've spent a good amount of time studying and even teaching caricature (workshops at SCAD and AI).

    So yeah, there are definitely tons of people with no artistic inclinations that will gladly spout useless advice about a career path they themselves can only dimly comprehend. Still, one of the more unforgivable forms of ignorance is having a fellow artist prejudge and discount another artform out of hand.

    Alright, enough browbeating from me. Just remember: despite the exagerated features, caricaturists are people too.

  23. I knew it was bound to happen.

    First of all, I deeply respect caricaturists and the work that they do. It is very difficult to pull off such work on a continuing basis. In fact, I'll be the first to admit that I have an incredibly hard time doing caricatures. It's one of my weaknesses.

    But you missed the point of my post. If you go back and reread what I had to say, you'll notice that I was not prejudging or undermining that line of work. (Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned "Six Flags," but whatever...) Rather my beef was with said ignorant, yet well-meaning non-artists who, no matter what you tell them about what you do, even while going into extreme detail, will still relegate you to one thing. And after 36 years, Lucas, it gets really old. Believe me.

    And secondly, I have to say: lighten up. I was just having some fun.

  24. Well of course it was bound to happen and I'm amazed it didn't happen sooner!

    "those stinkin' big-headed caricatures"

    but also replies with gems like:

    "Why on earth anyone would think a person could get rich, much less make an actual living, doing that stuff is mind boggling."


    "And caricature of the variety seen at Six Flags is the art equivalent to funnel cakes and equally as good for you..."

    And it's a good lesson in blog-speak. I know you were talking in fun, but so was I (funny how joviality and even sarcasm don't tend to read well on these things, eh?). Someone says to me "improv isn't theater" or "cartoons aren't art" or "swing dance is dead" or "you got your peanut butter in my chocolate" and I couldn't care less, but I'll still rally back because it's my personality. And hey, Improv and Caricature are art in public, so believe me I've run into more idiotic comments per hour than many, plus I get to deal with hecklers (drunk, sober, young and old).

    So in the end you got 20 positive "atta boy" comments and one gripe. I still agree with your basic premise but hey, it was time someone stuck up for the good people of the Fasen Art caricature set. If not necessarily for you, then for some of the more impressionable folks who read this thing.

  25. Musicians get it too. I can't tell you how many times I've been told I should play at a theme park. And if I hear Vivaldi dumbed down to "that music that plays at Busch Gardens" one more time....Grr.

  26. Hey Lucas,

    I after reading your comment, I have to say, I deeply regret my funnel cakes remark--(what can I say, the anonymity(sp) of blogland got the better of me). I also regret it since I was taking issue about someone making a remark about children's books before I managed to slam caricaturists AND funnel cakes in the same sentence! Sheesh...

    I understand your reaction. I really do--more than you know. My mother was an editorial cartoonist in the 70's and 80's--one of only three women cartoonists in the country and the ONLY one in South Carolina. She dealt with much the same thing that I think Ward was talking about--the idea that illustrators/caricaturists/animators/painters/etc... are constantly berated by well-meaning, non creative people who think they have the PERFECT way for you to make a buck. In her case, people wanted to know why she was drawing pictures of Jimmy Carter and not raising two kids. They mean well but they can be patronizing and sort of insensitive in some ways.

    In fairness to Ward, I have to say that I totally get the point he was making. He wasn't so much slamming another artist's chosen profession as he was lamenting having to listen to artless people offer asinine suggestions or ask questions like, "How long do you think you can support yourself and your family drawing your pictures before you give in and get a real job?" Ward (pardon me for speaking for you Ward) I'm sure understands as well, if not better than most of us, how hard it is to make a living as am artist. I think we can all agree that as artists we've all had to slum it in one way or another to make ends meet. God knows I have.

    Anyway, I'm rambling I know. For my part, I regret causing offense with my "funnel cakes" remark... I do think though that we could all do with a little perspective... Oh, and your work is fantastic.

  27. Yeah, I can relate. Lots of "What characters do you draw?" comments, even after I tell people that I do computer animation. Lots of "I thought you knew computers" comments, and people asking me to fix their systems. Lots of "Why don't you apply to Microsoft?" from my well-meaning dad when I was about to graduate. I suppose it will never end.

  28. "But is really does not matter WHAT you are called, or where your work is placed, as long as it brings some kind of joy to some person someplace."

    Charles M. Schulz
    "Peanuts Jubilee"

  29. I'll be glad when they stop telling me that maybe I should consider a job in the accounting field. And by "they", I mean my supervisors. Heh.

  30. I love when I mention to family I have an online gallery, and they say..ARE they paying you for this? Oh dear God, you aren't paying them are you?

  31. After having read all the comments, I decided to add my feelings about the issue. Knowing my son, I realize he was just sounding off about the way people want so desperately to put people in a "box." I think it's an easy way to categorize people - "Okay, she's a teacher, so she's good with kids." "He's a tennis pro so he must be very good at athletics." "He's an artist - that must mean he can paint well." "Actully, no, he can't. But he can design a building." "What? He can't paint a picture? He must not be very good." Yikes.

    So that type of "catetgorizing" limits a person either professionally or personally. It's as if that particular label is ALL they can do. I don't believe anyone wants to be labeled. Historically, people squirm at "titles," "labels," etc. Whatever a person does - artistically or otherwise, they like the freedom to be able to express themselves - however. I certainly don't want to be called a "secretary." Do you know what that gets me? Oh, you type letters and answer the phone. Geesh! I do a WHOLE LOT MORE THAN THAT! I'M an EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT! For heaven's sake. (I think I went over the top on that one.) But exaggeration is a wonderful way to make a point, isn't it? MY POINT is, we take pride in whatever we do - or we can't do it. So if you're an animator, illustrator, caricaturist, weaver, painter, homemaker, CEO, dishwasher, lawyer -- whatever you do - GIVE IT YOUR BEST - or do something else. And allow others their territory. Give them the respect due because they DO it.

    I loved the way my kids created their identities and grew their talents. It was fun to watch - and be a part of. They weren't like me - and that was a good thing! They are so totally different in many ways but I was blessed to go along for the ride. Sorry I rambled, son. I love your blog. It's total entertainment for me!

  32. spoken like the wise woman that you are. we should all be so lucky to have a mama like you.

  33. this goes to the original post:
    the same's happening to me all the time.
    still, since here are some smart people: what should I do with my art?

  34. LoL! They always would tell me, "You should go work for the newspaper." I'd tell 'em, "I don't want to work for no dang newspaper! Are you crazy!" But now, guess where I've worked for the past 7 years? Now, which one of the comics/funnies do you draw?