Sunday Mailbag

August 20th, 2006 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: What is the weirdest/strangest/craziest live caricature(s) that you’ve had to draw?

A: This question comes from Trevour Meyer, a live caricaturist from North Dakota. He relayed this story of his weirdest live drawing:

I just drew one this past weekend down in Austin- a young Hispanic lady, CRYING!??ᬨ‚Ć She didn’t speak very much English, but her group of friends asked me if I could draw her ‘beautiful,’ but with tears going down her face.??ᬨ‚Ć Fair enough, I said.??ᬨ‚Ć But then she began to produce REAL tears as I started the drawing. And she had the most sad look on her face the whole time. And the tears kept pouring out. And I’m supposed to be making a caricature out of this?!???ᬨ‚Ć In all honestly it was an extremely uncomfortable session for me.??ᬨ‚Ć Some sort of symbolic thing, I’m sure!??ᬨ‚Ć In the end though, she loved it!

I have so many stories after 20 plus years and 70,000 plus live caricatures. There were many times I thought I was drawing a girl and it was actually a boy, and the dress I put him in was not very well received. Once I did a couple and did the old “guy looking at the girl and doing the ‘thumbs up'” drawing. When I drew the thumb his friends behind me started laughing, and said something to him in Spanish. He grinned and held up his hand… no thumb. Oops. It’s also worth saying that the ‘thumbs up’ gesture is an obscene one in some cultures, like the middle finger is here. Similarly I drew a guy once in a body builder pose, even though he was a skinny guy. I had him turned with his left arm down and forward, with his right up and flexing. When he stood up to take the drawing I saw he has no right arm at all. Oops. Then there was the time this disfigured man sat in front of me. He looked a little like Vincent from the old “Beauty and the Beast” TV show. His left eye socket was split at an angle and it looked a little like a lion’s eye. His other eye was covered with an eye patch, so you had to wonder if the exposed one was that disfigured, what did the other one look like?? It was probably gone altogether. In cases like that I’ve found it’s better to draw what you see and not to pretend nothing is different or try to glamorize the person.

Like I said, there are a lot of stories. I’ve forgotten more of them than I remember. However, one is the all time champ of challenging requested ‘themes’. I was drawing at Underground Atlanta many years ago and two college girls got in line to get single caricatures of themselves. The first wanted me to do something relating to her major. I honestly don’t remember what it was, just being a typical subject. The second, however, was the most unique request for a theme I ever received. When I asked this girl what she was studying, she sheepishly said “biology”. Her friend pestered her demanding she be more specific. Eventually it came out that she was specializing in the study of the mating habits of animals, and planned her doctorate thesis to be an exhaustive study of the mating habits of African elephants. “Draw THAT!” her friend challenged me.

Well, this was a family-orientated place and in any case the obvious x-rated drawing isn’t my style. So, I drew her in the foreground, hiding in a bush with field gear scribbling in a notebook. In a clearing behind her were two elephants laying in a bed covered with a sheet, smoking cigarettes with extremely spacey, dreamy and satisfied looks on their faces. That got a big laugh from the crowd. After countless other drawings, that one still sticks in my head as one of the weirdest drawings I ever did live.


  1. Matt. says:

    Good thing there just happened to be two Elephants in a bed nearby for you to look off of!

  2. Trevour says:

    (Actually I’m a fellow Minnesotan!)

    That’s good quick thinking on the elephant situation.

    I haven’t had anybody of the disfigured type yet, but I’m sure it will come eventually. I’ll have to keep that in mind – to just ‘draw what you see.’

    Last year, one of the guys at the Fargo stand had to draw a young girl from a photo who appeared to have Progeria (I think), and the caricature ended up looking scary – in a bad way. That’s tough stuff, but anybody is entitled to a caricature after all!


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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