I remember when I started drawing caricatures. I wanted to learn everything I could about them. I followed every caricature artist I found online, mostly Facebook. I saw so many artists I admired for a lot of different reasons. Some artists achieved incredible likeness through exaggeration, creating a heightened reality and other artists perform dazzling feats of design and aesthetics. Then there were the other artists. The ones who were not so good. The ones like me.
I knew I was closer to the bottom than I was to the top but that didn’t stop me from constantly striving to improve my work. I aspired to be one of the better artists. I tried different things, different tools, styles and approaches. But lookung back, showtime isn’t when you experiment and improvise, you’ve got to be camera ready. You’ve got to stick the landing every time. Going straight in with a marker was difficult enough, why did i make 6hings harder on myself by trying to be artistic?
One of the things I noticed early on is that every artist has their own unique voice. I was trying to find mine. It’s hard to say if trying to emulate the artists that inspired me made me a better artist. I know that I learned to draw by copying other artists but trying to come up with my own special sauce just complicated the difficult process of trying to draw a reasonably good sketch, without erasing, in about five minutes, all the while navigating polite small talk with random strangers. I did the best I could.
The feedback I got compounded the problem. People would grin and nod and tell me it was great, even if they didn’t like it, just because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings, or they would say something along the lines of ”That doesn’t look like me. I don’t …(insert aspect of drawing they don’t like)…” People really bitched about the way I would draw ears a lot. ”I don’t have elf ears!” was a pretty common complaint. I didn’t think I drew super-pointy ears but that’s the way a lot of people read them, like Spock from Star Trek.
Always striving to improve, I did take this feedback into consideration. Adapting my drawing style to it, trying to make things softer, avoiding too many sharp angles that people read as ”ugly”, giving people big eyes, making sure to draw people with big smiles and avoiding any perceived imperfections they may have. I even tried to make my ears super round. But it wasn’t enough to avoid drawing ugly pictures of ugly people, people wanted more. They to be younger and skinnier. They wanted more hair. I had one particularly unattractive middle-aged woman command me to draw the ”hottest, sexiest“ picture of her ever. Needless to say, my drawing didn’t meet her expectations.
But anyone with common sense knows, the sketch isn’t really the problem, people like her are ugly and they know it but they won’t admit it. So they pay people like me to come to their parties and tell them how pretty they are. It’s become clear to me that this is the expectation most of the time. These people expect to have their asses kissed, I guess because they have money. I think it’s pretty sad and pathetic, TBH, and it pretty much ruined my work.
Rather than striving to create artwork that I know in my hearts of hearts has merit, because I have been an artist my entire life, I attempted to please these people who are going to complain no matter what. And my work suffered. It’s lame. Drawing flattering pictures of people for money is fucking lame. I cringe so hard when I look at some of the caricatures I’ve drawn. They are so bad. But I gave the people what they wanted. I thought that was what I was doing.
It was all one-offs, I wasn’t building business relationships with people, I was just sitting around waiting for people to come around and try to take advantage of me as much as possible. People always want a little something extra for free. They want a discount, they don’t want to pay sales tax, they don’t to pay travel expenses, or they don’t want to pay at all.
Between Pier 60 and doing parties, I was grinding pretty hard. I was trying to build a year-round business. I could’ve gotten by with a solid retail stand on the beach but Pier 60 was a non-started for several reasons. Four hours a night, outside, all alone in the rain was not enough to build on the kind of scale I was thinking. I tried to figure out a way to expand my operation, move indoors to a permanant location that I could keep open for 8-10 hours, contract other artists and possibly serve food and drink. A caricature cafe. I thought it was a great idea but there was one thing I didn’t take in account—what my customers actually wanted.
In my quest to have a roof like real business, I sought advice from free consultants and the advise was actually pretty terrible. All I really wanted to know was how to get inside a building so I could work, even when it was raining, but I had a bunch of irrelevant stuff about social media thrown at me. Everywhere I went to learn how to solve this problem of getting out of the rain, I was told that all I had to do was go viral on social media and the customers who come pouring in. Well, I’d been on several social media platforms for some time and the business they brought me was few and far between. Mostly, it was people trying to get to me come out and do stuff for free.
One of these business advisors I sought guidance from told me to try to understand what it is exactly thst my customers want. It took a long time and some considerstion until finally, I was put in a place where going to the pier wasn’t an option at all and it became perfectly apparent that people weren’t interested in my artwork at all, it was the pier itself where the value of what I was doing laid. People didn’t care about me at all, I could’ve been anybody, they wouldn’t care. They just wanted their pictures drawn on the pier.
That explains a lot of things. It explains why so many of them don’t actually want caricatures and explicitly ask for drawings that aren’t funny or exaggerated. They just want someone to be available for them, there on that pier, 24 hours a day, to draw their picture. They don’t care who it is or what kind of drawing it is. They just want it on the pier and they want to be good-looking. TBH, it’s a rare treat when somebody actually wants a funny one.
Meanwhile, these advisors are telling me I need to get everyone’s email address and getting them to follow me on social media so I can bombard them with spam or go viral or some bullshit like that, but these people, who sweat me over a couple dollars and incessantly ask how much longer it’s gonna be, can’t be bothered to give a simple thumbs up to my work, let alone provide an email address and possibly receive future discounts. That’s not what they wanted from me. They wanted a quick sketch on the pier and that’s it. That’s all the support they are willing to give me.
Once again, as long as I had a solid location with a roof, I could make money and bring help aboard but these business consultants told me I need to use Facebook to sell caricatures, even though 99% of my customers came from in-person sales. But I guess I’m just supposed to sell caricatures to my in-laws because they are the only ones who ever engage with my social media. It’s pathetic.
But Facebook isn’t here to help my business. They are here to gather data on me and dupe me into wasting money on their useless boosts. It seems to me every time I post a picture or video or something, I immediately see an ad for hair restoration or some under-eye correction cream or something like that. It seems to that someone of low intelligence (or someone who doesn’t speak English) is looking at my posts and trying to match them with a list of products they are being paid to promote. My best guess is AI, really shitty AI. Like, the mind of a shitty child AI.
Now, I know there’s more to me than male pattern hair loss or sleep deprivation, I actually have a lot of different interests but it seems all social network platforms think I’m interested in is drinking, gambling and cheating on my wife (and male cosmetics). Either that, or that’s what they are trying so desperately hard to pound into my head, day after day, week after week, year after year. I’m convinced the readon they all want you to post videos now is so they can look at all the products you buy and try to figure out a way to get into your head and manipulate you into drinking and gambling all your hard-earned money away. After all, that’s what blue-collar shmucks like us do. We’re too busy smoking Marlboros, drinking Bud Light and buying scrstch-offs to know any better. We deserve to be poor because we are stupid and frivolous with our money.
Therefore, I find absolutely no redeeming value in social media. As far as I am concerned, it’s all a big global circlejerk and only serves to create drama and spread misinformation. The great irony is, of course, that there is tremenduous opportunity to bring the world together on the internet and just the opposite is happening. People are becoming more insulted and entrenched in their views. Hate groups are coalescing online and committing acts of violence in the real world. Social media is greater force for evil than it is for good and therefore, I am deleting my social media. There’s nothing I can put pn social media that I couldn’t put up on this website and as a matter of fact, there are things I can put on this website that platforms like Favebook won’t allow. For example:
White men can’t jump.
Now that would’ve been flagged for hate speech on Facebook. But I can put it on my website. So you see, there’s really no reason to bother with those data-selling, Rogaine-shilling crooks. There’s nothing they can offer me that I can’t get through this website, and then some. I’m not going to allow to keep profiting off of me while I get nothing in return.
Here’s the deal, I’m not doing flattericatures any more. I’ve wasted too much time and energy trying to make people who will never be satisfied happy. If I’m going to do it, I’m doing it my way. I’m experienced enough to know what to do. Whenever someone tells me to make them skinny or beautiful, I’m straight up ignoring them. I’m ignoring every single stupid little request about fixing people teeth or making people looking younger. Going bald? Me too, deal with it. Getting old? Me too, deal with it. Don’t like your teeth? Me neither, deal with it. Don’t like my drawings?
Guess I’m gonna hafta deal with it.