Several times I’ve mentioned the National Caricaturist Network here on the blog. The NCN is an organization of professional caricaturists from all over the world (even though it’s still called the “National” Caricaturist Network, membership from outside the US has swelled to a sizable proportion). They represent not just live caricaturists from the theme park and party circuit, but illustrators, painters, sculptors, graphic artists… as long as an artist’s work revolves around caricature it’s a welcome fit. There are some seriously talented artists within the NCN, and it’s quite an inspiration to see their work. Here’s an old blog post about how I got involved with the NCN. I was president in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001.
The NCN had it’s 16th annual convention and competition Sept. 30th through Oct. 5th in Reno, NV. The convention is a central part of membership. Even though it’s a trek and major time commitment, actually attending one of these conventions can be a truly career changing event. Basically a large group of artists, sometimes as many as 200 or more, gather for the better part of a week, take over a huge ballroom space in some hotel and draw the crap out of each other all hours of the day and night. There is also a guest speaker, usually a well known caricature illustrator who does a keynote address an sometimes a work demo. This year was illustrator Daniel Adel, who’s work is consistently in the major entertainment magazines here in the US. Past years have seen such luminaries as Bruce Blitz, Jack Davis, Sebastian Kr?¬?ger, John Kascht, C.F. Payne, Roberto Parada, Jan Op De Beeck, Steve Brodner, David Cowles and David O’Keefe. There are also seminars conducted by members on techniques, business and marketing. Mostly, though, it’s all about the caricatures.
Each attending member is a competitor, and is given a sectioned off space of wall in which to post the caricatures they produce that they wish to hang up. The artists work in almost every conceivable medium… from the street artist’s marker and chalk and glove, to airbrush to acrylics and oils to digital to sculpty. Some of the pieces that get hung up are like live caricatures and some are more like full blown illustrations. By the end of the week that ballroom is a cartoon and technicolor explosion of wild caricature art. It is awesome and humbling at the same time. Awesome in it’s inspiration and infusion of creative energy, and humbling being dwarfed by the skills of some outrageous talents. To be sure, there is nothing else like it in the world.
At the end of the convention comes the unfortunate necessity of judging these artists an awarding titles like “Caricaturist of the Year”, and “Best Caricature”, etc. It’s unfortunate only in that these awards can only go to a few, where there are so many that demand some recognition. The top three finishers for “Caricaturist of the Year”, the NCN’s highest honor, are bestowed the “Nosey”, a metal nose statue that comes in gold, silver and bronze. Congratulations to Kage Nakanishi (Golden Nosey), Glenn Ferguson (Silver Nosey) and Marian van de Wiel (Bronze Nosey) for taking home the hardware. This year’s complete list of winners can be found here on the NCN website.
I had to miss the con this year as it was switched in 2006 to early October from it’s traditional winter time, which is a bad time for me for multiple personal and professional reasons. I hope to make it next year. I’d encourage any caricaturists out there who are not members to go to the website and join up. The quarterly magazine alone is worth the modest $55.00 a year membership fee.
The NCN also has the occasional sanctioned “mini-con”, when a chapter puts on a smaller con of their own with a regional flavor. These cons are much smaller and limited to only a certain number of NCN members, but are also open to non-members who want to get a taste of what the NCN is all about and also see some speakers and seminars on the art. Just such a mini-con will be held in St. Louis on March 2nd-5th, 2008. Your’s truly will be the keynote speaker, and I will also be doing a hands on workshop on inking with pen/brush and ink. I will write a post with further information about what you can expect, but if anyone is interested in attending space is limited so don’t put it off.
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