Sunday Mailbag

December 3rd, 2006 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: What do you look for when you hired caricaturists for your theme park operations? Were there ever people with no skills and you had a method for bringing them up to speed, or did you only hire people who could already caricature, and you helped prepare them for live work?

A: I look for people with a natural eye for caricature, a feel for drawing the face/figure and strong drawing skills… in that order. No, they do not have to be accomplished caricaturists. Many of the artists that work with us have never done caricatures before. However they have to have an innate sense for it. What I try to find are artists who I think have the potential to become good caricaturists, and that I think have the ability to quickly develop their skills both in observation and with our techniques. I always say that it is much easier to each someone how to draw than how to see. I can teach almost anybody how to draw a convincing eye, for example. However it’s much harder to teach them how to see the eye that is in front of them, and draw it properly in terms of it’s uniqueness of shape, form and expression, let alone to exaggerate these elements. Some excellent artists have been turned down for caricature work because they just didn’t have an eye for it, while some with less talent were accepted and thrived because they had a certain knack for it.

The bottom line is that an artist must demonstrate to me they have the talent and natural inclination to be good at caricature, the drawing skills to apply to our techniques, and the motivation to work hard to learn and develop. I start out with new artists giving them a crash course on our basic approach, caricature theory and practical application, the anatomy of the face, lessons on each feature and the face as a whole, and our specific techniques with the graphite and airbrush. Our goal at first is to get them doing sellable, quality drawings as quickly as we can. After they reach that point, we continue to help them develop their eye for likeness and exaggeration as the season progresses. It’s a great learning experience for everybody… myself included.

Thanks to Larry New for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!


  1. larrygnu says:

    Thanks, Tom.

    I look forward to your book on the subject.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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