Sunday Mailbag

March 27th, 2011 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: I’ve read on your blog that you have several caricature booth stands in a few different amusement parks around the country. How did you get into that and how can someone apply for a job drawing caricatures?

A: My first real “art” job, outside of a few commissions for friends and others, was drawing caricatures at Six Flags Great America theme park in Gurnee, IL just north of Chicago. I got the job by answering a flyer ad with the headline “Can You Draw?” that was hanging in the studio arts building at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis while I was attending college there. It turned out to be from a company called Fasen Arts, which did caricatures and airbrush T-Shirts at various theme parks. That was the summer of 1985, and I worked with Fasen Arts for four years at Great America while I put myself through college. After I graduated in 1989 The Lovely Anna and I, newly married, moved down to Atlanta to manage a new location for them at Six Flags Atlanta. While there I opened my own operation at the grand opening of a newly remodeled shopping/entertainment property called Underground Atlanta. I closed that booth in 2008 after 19 years in operation. In the meantime we moved back to Minnesota and I opened up a location at Valleyfair, the local theme park, in 1991. I have since expanded into other venues like Six Flags St. Louis and Six Flags New England near Springfield, MA as well as Nickelodeon Universe here in Minnesota. We also do airbrush t-shirts and airbrush tattoos in some of the locations.

Getting a job doing caricatures is simple. You just have to demonstrate to me that you have the drawing skills and natural eye to do good caricature art, and show me you can be the type of person who I can rely on to do their job and the little things like show up on time, work hard and be dedicated to improving your craft. Most artists that come to work with us don’t have a lot of experience doing live caricatures, but they have the necessary talent and learn our techniques along the way. I always have a few positions open every season, so interested artists can e-mail me about any of the above locations.

Thanks to Grant Jonen 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 your questions and I’ll try and answer them here!


  1. Ed Meisinger says:

    Can a person really make a living doing this? If you don’t mind my asking, what kind of hourly pay could a person expect to make?

    • Tom says:

      That depends on a lot of factors, like how fast and personable you are, how well you draw, how busy the location is, etc. The work pays on a commission basis. I can tell you I put myself through college doing it back in the late 1980s.


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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