Sunday Mailbag- Reluctant Subjects?

February 5th, 2017 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: When drawing live caricatures sometimes people urge another person to get a caricature drawn. But this other person sometimes does not want to be drawn. Some say just “I don’t like caricatures” or “I’m already a caricature myself”. What are the most funny/interesting answers you’ve heard in your career? And do you think it is a good idea to try to persuade the other person?

A: No one has a funny answer to that. It’s all variations of “I’m already a caricature” or “why would I do that?”

I hate it when someone pushes a reluctant person into the chair to get drawn for two reasons. First, if someone does not want to get a caricature drawn it’s usually because they are either self-conscious about their looks or they are uncomfortable with the dynamic of sitting there while people laugh at a drawing being done of them they cannot see. I certainly understand someone having either of those issues, and since having either of those issues would likely preclude the subject from enjoying either the experience and/or the resulting drawing, there seems to be no good reason to force them to do it.

The second reason I hate it when someone pressures someone else who does not want to get a caricature drawn into sitting down for one is because it is never about wanting something good for the subject. The person doing the pressuring only wants to be able to enjoy making the reluctant model uncomfortable at best and made to feel ridiculed and embarrassed at worst. In other words it’s about their enjoyment, not the subject’s… and their source of enjoyment is not very positive.

The only exception to this is if the one doing the pressuring wants to get a caricature WITH the reluctant person. Then at least the motivations behind it are genuine… maybe they want to get one for themselves with a person they enjoy being with. If they are happy to share the experience it is not about getting a laugh at the others expense. Nothing wrong with that, and if the reluctant person still balks I feel sorry for the one who wanted the drawing. Still, some people just can’t appreciate a caricature, so why try and force them to?

Thanks to Dominick Zeillinger 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. Jared Rasmussen says:

    I remember coercing my dad to sit for a caricature once. It wasn’t that I wanted him to feel uncomfortable — I just like caricature and wanted to share it with him, no different than him asking me to go to the theater or something else HE enjoys. Selfishly, I wanted to watch the artist at work. I can see how it’d be hard for the artist though.


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