Mean Guy Caricature?

February 13th, 2010 | Posted in General

I had been thinking about writing a post on why doing caricature focusing on nothing but ridicule and insult is different than doing caricature focusing on capturing the essence of the subject… but my buddy Ed Steckley beat me to it.

From Ed’s Blog:

Caricatures that are downright mean and nasty, for apparently no other reason than to be an outlet for the creator to freely (and passive-aggressively) be a jerk and go for a cheap laughs are, in my opinion, the lowest form of caricature.  They have nothing to do with satire OR parody, and frankly may be the least cerebral of all types of humorous illustration.

I couldn’t agree more with Ed’s comments. In some cases “capturing the essence” of a particular subject in caricature does demand you are derogatory or unflattering, but there is a big difference between doing what the subject calls for and bashing away without rhyme or reason.


  1. Drake says:

    But where do you draw the line between flatter-ature and being mean? Is it taken on a case by case basis? I’d prefer to have a mean one myself. It seems like quite a few caricaturists that fall into the former category make everyone’s face look very similar excluding a few minor details… and by doing so, not putting their best foot forward either.

    • Tom says:

      You misunderstand. I’m not talking about doing a flattering drawing or a generic caricature where everybody looks the same, I am talking about drawing a caricature based on the subject and not on one’s own agenda. Too many caricaturists take some kind of weird sadistic glee in savaging their subjects when the subject’s face isn’t asking for it. That’s called distortion, not exaggeration. There is a subset of live caricaturists who do this and then blame their customers, not themselves, when the customers are unhappy with the results. “You don’t understand what a caricature is!” becomes their mantra and excuse for doing lousy likenesses in their efforts to try and make someone cry. You use the hammer when the hammer is called for, not every time.

  2. Drake says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Tom. I’m not a caricaturist by trade, but I definitely agree that it’s not always appropriate and that likeness should be first and foremost.

  3. gustavo says:

    I unserstand you Mr. Richmond, but it is a situation hard to explain with words,its easier to demonstarte using visual examples. I suggest to make 2 caricatures of the same subject: one flattering and the other mean.

  4. George Cook says:

    I know i’d rather see a good, clean caricature and know exactly who it is supposed to be, rather than some of the things I have seen where the “art” doesn’t even resemble anything human… The only time I have ever attempted to do something that was really messed up was when I was doing a self portrait.

  5. Ed Steckley says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, homie! It almost sounds like you know what you’re talking about!

  6. Excellent discussion
    I agree with Ed and Tom’s talking point

  7. sharprm says:

    I agree some examples might be nice. I like humour that might seem mean for instance for Anne Hathaway:


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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