It takes artist Anthony Valdez all of two minutes to capture someone’s essence in a caricature. He’s been drawing since he was a child. Valdez has drawn caricatures professionally since 2011.
“As a kid I drew all the time,” Valdez says. “I have dyslexia, so I would draw before I even knew what the alphabet was. I looked at things a little differently. Not being able to read as easily, it put me more into the imaginary world. And, my family is all very artsy, too.”
Valdez also does work in graphic design, illustration, and photography, but caricature is his first love. He travels with a group of other artists to state and county fairs across the country, where they set up booths and draw pictures that capture a face and a person’s essence from his perspective.
“We set up and work from sunup to sundown. And we have a good time,” Valdez says. “Then we do it all over again the next day.”
(Animation of Anthony Valdez creating a caricature)
Valdez says he draws from the inside out rather than the more common approach of drawing a face from the outside in — that is, beginning with the shape of the face and then filling in the features.
“I look at the eyes and the nose,” he says. “And then I go from there to see how close together things are, different groupings. We try to make people look more like them than them. Over- enhance things, so that something small becomes smaller and something big becomes bigger. And make it funny.”
But doing that doesn’t always go over well, Valdez admits. On the rare occasion, the person posing gets offended. One dissatisfied customer pulled a knife on him.
“The craziest example was when I first started,” Valdez says. “Security actually put people around me because people would get upset about exaggerations in my drawing. This person pulled a knife because they didn’t like the drawing and thought I was going to make them pay for it.”
He didn’t. Customers are not required to pay for a drawing they don’t like, but Valdez says most people have enough of a sense of humor to see themselves in their caricature. He posts his work all around his booth to give customers an idea of his style.
“Life is an unfinished drawing: rough in some spots but amazing and beautiful in others,” Valdez says.
Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.