Kartoon Caricatures by Dian & Pete Wagner - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Specializing in Drawing Comic Cartoon Caricatures at EVENTS as Entertainment
HOW WE WORK (Your "Room")
Caricatures are defined by every dictionary as COMIC art. That means COMIC first, ART second.
Comic as in COMEDY. As in, "HA! HA! HA!" Way too many way too serious-minded out-of-work illustrators and portrait artists who have been invading the field by the hundreds since the 1990s never seem to GET that. Some do some beautiful artwork, but they are stylized paintings and grotesques, not comic caricatures. Unfortunately, a lot of the general public have never SEEN an actual caricature, only the formulaic, standardized, assembly line style commercial drawings that are misnomered "caricatures." The kind that are supposed to show off the artist's "great talents" and who think that is all it takes to entertain the audience. BORRRRRRR-ING.

We do not treat the guests like "bowls of fruit" who are there for us to practice our drawing "skills" on. The goal is to ENTERTAIN. To entertain the GUESTS. Not ourselves, not our fellow "artists," but the AUDIENCE. Another thing most of the others never seem to GET. We don't just CALL ourselves "entertainers." "ENTERTAINMENT" isn't just a WORD to us that we use cynically to get business. When we perform, we DELIVER.

In some settings, that means keeping relatively quiet and doing almost all of the comedy through the drawing itself, with very little schmoozing or spritzing. But most of the time, we find it is essential to ENGAGE and actively RELATE to the person we are drawing, which is something we see very few of the more traditional introverted artist types doing. For one thing, if you just sit there crankin' em out, you never see the EXPRESSIONS or get a sense of the PERSONALITY of the person being drawn.

Caricatures are supposed to CAPTURE THE ESSENCE. They are not about just the physical "features" or the muscles of the face or the "meat and bones" on the front of a person's head. Caricatures and caricature artists are supposed to look INSIDE the person and catch what they really are like, and then depict it in the quickest, simplest, yet most incisive and insightful way possible.
People don't go to a party or other event to be "impressed" by the fact that they have someone there posing as an "artist" and to sit there posing for the "artist" themselves. The only ones who are fascinated enough to stand there for more than a minute or two watching some straightlaced, non-comic visual artist draw at the normal or slightly faster than normal rate of speed and doing what might be perfectly clever or nicely composed and neatly drafted drawings are OTHER ARTISTS. And maybe a few WANNABE artists. Everyone else quickly loses interest and finds it about as exciting as watching grass grow or watching paint dry.

And for those miserable practitioners who are really meant to be sitting in their studios drawing rather than out in the field where they complain constantly among themselves about how difficult it is to draw people who fail to SIT STILL for them... We actually LOVE it when people are moving and emoting and having fun joking around with us rather than "sitting still." That's when we pick up on clues about what we can do to make their drawings especially funny to THEM, but also to the surrounding audience who are watching.
You will notice we don't have to dig back 20 years to find a photo showing a group laughing at our drawings. We post HUNDREDS of photos and an occasional video on our FACEBOOK page relatively often. You can see MANY photos from a SINGLE event, which gives you an HONEST idea of what we do in a couple of hours' time, and how high our batting average is. Not just four or five photos from 10 years ago drawn at some retail caricature stand at a theme park or mall where the artist had a half hour to do the drawings, and that is supposed to give you some idea of what they will be able to do when they are trying to draw 100 people at a party? PULLLLEEEEAZE. Give me a break! And think of your poor guests... If half of these supposed "professional caricature artists" were actually what they say they are, don't you think they would have at least a few dozen new drawings up online every few months? Where are they???

If you are at all serious about hiring the best caricaturists you can, at least demand more than a tiny handful of sample photos. Better yet, demand VIDEO. That's the only way you can really assess a candidate for the job.

Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing   Laughing 


All that is usually required for this to be successful is:

1. A space of about six by six feet for one artist, or six by ten for two.

2. Two or three chairs per artist for the folks being drawn. We bring our own chairs for ourselves, ones that we know will work with our drawing boards or tables. Benches usually work better than chairs, because people will keep moving chairs around and we need them a certain distance and location with respect to where we are in order to get the ideal view of them for drawing.

3. Enough light. We have expensive portable studio lights and BUSINESS INSURANCE but we prefer natural lighting if there is enough of it because the studio lights could potentially be knocked over and hurt someone. We have used a 500 watt light for years but it can be too imposing in some settings. We recently invested in a new set of LED studio lights, not sure yet how well we like them.

4. Enough air. We can't do our best if we are too close to toxic fumes that are choking us half to death, so we need to be positioned away from popcorn machines, sterno buffet warmers, etc.

5. Visibility, Accessibility and TRAFFIC. Ideally we should be where people can easily move in and out of the chairs and also stand around and watch, but from the sides rather than directly behind us. We need to be stationed where traffic is flowing around us but not being tempted to walk right between us and the folks we are drawing. You do not want us in a spot where people are hanging out for long periods of time or dying to sit down in our chairs and stay there for 20 minutes eating. We pioneered staging with over-the-shoulder cameras and monitors back when they were first available, but there are all kinds of reasons why that usually does not work that well.

6. Shelter from the elements. It is impossible to do good work in glaring sun, partly because the guests are all squinting, partly because we are staring at white paper. We have an expensive canopy I designed and had custom made, plus a cheaper one for worse weather, and custom-designed banners that give us a presence that adds a dash of class and panache to your event.

It is best if the host is able to be flexible because the minute I get to an event, I can easily scope out the landscape and tell exactly where the best placement would be for us. Sometimes you have reason you can't put us in the spot I know would be ideal, but if you can, it usually is possible to get stellar results. I can go on and on and on and on endlessly about the topic of setting up for caricaturing at events. Check the blog-I'll try to write some entries on it. I could write a book about it but there are too many so-called caricaturists already, I don't want to encourage any more to enter this severely glutted market.
We've put in many thousands of hours over the years designing and redesigning signs and banners that are helpful in presenting what we do when we are setting up for events. Here's a new banner I did this year that I use when I set up our 10x10 canopies.
In addition to our brightly colored, custom designed canopies, we have a "studio on wheels" that Pete designed and had built and we have put quite a bit of work and effort and time and money into outfitting it for fairs and festivals. We rarely take this to smaller events, but there are exceptions. The "Kartoon Wagon" adds a lot of fun to events by its mere presence! It makes it possible for visitors to watch us draw through the large side windows.
PETE WAGNER has been caricaturing as an entertainer for audiences and performing comedy on stage since 1979.
"First come the innovators. Then come the imitators. Then come the idiots."
-Warren Buffet
We have some very nice, catchy poster designs & other promo items which have proven extremely effective when using our performances as an attraction.
READ MORE on our "FUNDRAISERS" page to learn about WHY we are among the few who are able to work with you to successfully raise money using our caricaturing talents and experience, and HOW to find out more about how we have done this many times in the past-and can work with you to do it for your group.