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June 17, 2011

Cartoon Caricatures

When a friend of mine recently sent me an attachment containing a slideshow of different cartoon caricatures, I was less than excited about the prospect of flicking through yet another pointless collection of visual anecdotes, combined by some bored office worker into a “jazzy” pdf. However at the time I had nothing better to do, and although producing cartoon caricatures is what I do for a living, day in day out, I thought: Why not, this might even have a 2% chance of being quite inspiring.

When I opened the attachment however, my entire perspective changed – my expectations had been fundamentally challenged. This was not just some oddball selection of cartoon caricatures, this was a true art gallery, containing some of the finest examples of the genre that I have ever seen.

So what made these cartoon caricatures so good? It was not just the immaculate, photo-real precision with which the artists carved out every character in perfect 3D, nor even the clear technical proficiency each artist showed in their familiarity and mastery of the human physiognomy, but more the ability the artists had to distort feature to such extreme extent, to quadruple a forehead and quarter a nose proportionally, in a way which did not prevent the viewer from recognising the subject.

On the contrary, these cartoon caricatures contained more “reality” and likeness than the best photo ever could. Such is the power of the subjective artistic vision, which is at its best when it communicates with the general psyche in such a way as to make art more real than reality, to make people appear more as themselves through a more contrived medium involving more artistic intervention than the mechanistic processes which produce, say, a photograph.

I realised even more then that making cartoon caricatures is not just a frivolous bit of fun (although it certainly works well as a frivolous bit of fun), but that they sometimes, for all their non-seriousness, are a truly sublime art form. That is, when exaggerations are not gratuitous, but flights of genuine artistic fancy. Those extremes, like in any art form, when sincerely motivated, are most welcome.

June 15, 2011

The History of Caricatures

Filed under: caricatures — Tags: , , , — Charlie Anson @ 12:16 pm

Although we are used to seeing caricature cartoons in friend’s and relatives homes these days – and our own homes as well, of course – there was a time when caricature portraits were used as a means of attacking politicians and other establishment figures, rather than an amusing piece of art for us to enjoy.

Caricature cartoons became hugely popular in Britain during the 18th century when artists used them in a satirical manner. If you have ever seen these caricature portraits which feature members of the Royal Family and high ranking politicians, you would wonder how the artists managed to avoid being jailed, or worse, for drawing these cartoons.

To say they are cruel and hard-hitting is something of an understatement, which makes the fact that the artists avoided arrest all the more surprising. At a time when illiteracy levels were high, these caricature cartoons were an effective way of letting ordinary people know what their leaders were up to. Caricatures are still a powerful political weapon these days, but they are also increasingly popular when it comes to marking special occasions.

Caricature gifts are perfect for birthdays and other events, being a lasting reminder for those involved. Wedding caricatures are perfect for capturing the atmosphere of the big day, so why not think about ordering one for yourself or a friend who is about to get married? Have a look at the great selection of examples of Charlies work here on the website and order your own caricatures for any occasion.

June 9, 2011

Custom caricatures Quick and Easy

Filed under: caricatures — Tags: , , , — Charlie Anson @ 12:11 pm

You’ve probably seen the artists who draw caricatures in holiday resorts abroad – or tourist hotspots here in the UK – and fancied the idea of having your own caricature portraits drawn. This is not as easy as it sounds, because the people who draw these caricatures are often surrounded by a crowd which means you have to wait in line for your turn.

If you’re on your holidays abroad, you don’t want to be waiting around when you could be spending time on the beach or sightseeing, or perhaps you just don’t like the idea of sitting in a chair being drawn while a crowd looks on. So how do you find an artist who can provide you with custom caricatures? The answer is easier than you think, and here at Charlies Cartoons you can order caricatures from photos which will look great on your wall.

These cartoon caricatures also make great presents for a friend or relative, and all you have to do if you want to get caricatures for whatever reason is send a selection of photos of yourself or the person you want to send the custom caricatures to – two or three photos will be enough – along with some information about either yourself or your friend. Once you have done this, your work is over. All you have to do is wait for Charlie to work his magic, and the caricatures will be delivered to your home. Now doesn’t that sound more appealing that waiting in a queue to have your caricatures drawn?

June 8, 2011

Caricature from photos

Filed under: caricatures — Tags: , , , — Charlie Anson @ 10:55 am

When might someone think of making a caricature from photos? Well, typically there are two different types of occasion on which the idea might pop up.

Firstly, maybe you already have a photo from a special occasion that you would like to turn into a photo. If this is a real favourite, then the caricature could be even closer to your desired vision of those people and of that moment, than the photo itself! Think of how much you like the photos themselves, and then imagine, with all the creative input that a caricature artist will pour into your cartoon, how much you would love a caricature from photos that are your favourite in the world! We might be talking about a dad carrying his daughter on his shoulders, or a group sitting at a dinner table celebrating someone’s graduation. Whether it’s just one person or a whole group, a caricature from photos will tale the tale even better than a photo ever could!

Secondly, you might start the process from the other end and imagine what your perfect caricature might look like, describe your ideas to the artist, and go and look for the relevant photos afterwards. Even though in this case the characters would be taken out of context (a caricature artist could take a photo of you sitting on your home sofa and turn it into a caricature of you swinging on a vine over the Amazon river!), an interesting caricature from photos that just happen to be kicking about on your hard drive is always possible – you’ve just got to believe in the power of the imagination!

So don’t think you can’t make a great caricature from photos that aren’t that interesting – you can! Conversely, if you need to create a caricature of your boss sitting at his desk to provide a different but professional looking mug shot for a company website, and all you have is a photo of him dancing the Hula at a beach resort, then that kind of transplantation out of context is possible too. You’ll make a caricature from photos you never expected!

June 1, 2011

New Gift Ideas

Filed under: caricatures — Tags: , , , — Charlie Anson @ 12:11 pm

Most of us will be familiar with the feeling of panic when a friend or relatives birthday is approaching. You spend a lot of time wondering what you are going to buy them that is a little bit different, only to return to the, frankly, tired old familiar gift ideas. Will they really appreciate another necklace or shirt, or whatever item you usually give them? This is especially the case if your friendship has lasted over many years and you have exhausted the potential for presents, so if this sounds like the situation you find yourself in, why not think about giving caricature cartoons to friends or relatives as a truly different gift?

Personalised caricatures capture your friend’s personality and are always well received as presents, and here at Charlies Cartoons you will see hundreds of examples of the caricature gifts which people have sent to their friends. It doesn’t have to be a birthday for you to send caricatures.

Many of us like to have family caricatures and Charlies Cartoons can provide this service. All you have to do if you want family caricatures or caricature gifts is send a couple of photos of the person or persons to be featured, with a little information about them – amusing stories are always a good idea – and leave the rest to Charlie. As you will see when you look at the portfolio on our website, Charlie is an accomplished artist who is able to capture people perfectly, so if you are looking for an unusual present, caricature cartoons may be the ideal solution!

May 30, 2011

Wedding caricatures capture the big day

Filed under: Wedding Caricatures — Tags: , , , — Charlie Anson @ 12:08 pm

If you have just been married, or you have been to a friend’s wedding, there is a great way to remember the occasion, and this is with a caricature. All you have to do is send a photo of yourself and your new spouse – or the couple whose wedding you have been to – to Charlies Cartoons and he will create a fantastic caricature which captures the happy couple in an amusing way.

Wedding caricatures are a fun way to mark the biggest day of your life and when it comes to having your own caricatures, they are one of the most popular cartoon caricatures around, so why not have a look at some of the examples of Charlies work on the website.

While you’re there, take a moment to read some of the testimonials from the many satisfied customers and you will see why Charlie’s Cartoons is one of the most popular websites when it comes to wedding caricatures and all forms of cartoon caricatures.

When you send the photographs – two or three is the best way to let Charlie capture the essence of the person who will be portrayed – attach some information about them, for example, their favourite sport or other interests and any amusing stories if possible. You can receive the caricature from photos within 48 hours if necessary, so all you have to do now is decide what you want the cartoon to say about the person you will present it to.

May 21, 2011

Order custom caricatures with ease

Filed under: custom caricatures — Tags: , , , — Charlie Anson @ 11:59 am

Most of us will have seen caricatures on the walls of a friend’s house or in their office and the chances are you may have wondered where you could get custom caricatures from. There was a time not so long ago when the only places you could find artists who specialise in caricatures was in holiday resorts or on the streets of major cities.

These days it is so much easier to get hold of custom caricatures thanks to the internet, and one of the most popular artists online can be found at Charlies Cartoons. If you are thinking of ordering caricatures from photos of your friends or family, you need to have a look at Charlies site and see the samples of his work on display.

Whatever the occasion, you can order a caricature to help celebrate the day, whether it is a birthday, stag or hen party, a wedding or if you just want to let a friend know you are thinking of them, custom caricatures are perfect, and are sure to be treasured by the person you give it to.

Once you have seen the examples of the caricatures from photos on the website, ordering your own is a simple process. All you have to do is supply two or three photographs of the person you want depicted – and if possible, some amusing anecdotes about the person, or what their interests are – and leave the rest to Charlie and his expert eye.

May 17, 2011

Caricatures are here to stay!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Charlie Anson @ 10:48 am

Over the last three hundred or so years, caricatures of famous individuals have performed a sort of cathartic social function from within the visual arts, just as comedians do in the performing arts. Caricatures give people the chance to point and laugh at people in positions of authority, and often in the simplest of compositions, highlight critical truths and imperfections about those subjects.

From the grotesque monsters unleashed by William Hogarth, to master craftsmen of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries such as Gerald Scarfe and Steve Bell, caricatures have been keen, sharp instruments of satire, delving straight into our instinctive reactions and producing more clarity of social and political opinion than the moth ruthlessly pointed pamphlet or article.

Today, in the age of digital media, animation, and 3D film, the impact of hand-made caricatures is no less strong. Through their vivid situational representations, and their often distorted, grotesque exaggerations of physical human traits, caricatures are instantly recognisable, deeply human, and always elicit strong reactions, from heart-felt amusement to utter revulsion, to pity, affection, fear, and even patriotic pride.

The evolution of caricatures has loosely followed that of society, and of aesthetics in the visual arts. While Hogarth’s caricatures were highly detailed, neo-classically precise situational portraits only subtly stretched towards the grotesque, echoing the stylistic choices of contemporaneous master painters, caricatures in the nineteenth century began to adopt the more sparse and selective aspects that so often distinguish them today. This tendency reflected the notion developed in the new journalistic arts that making economies in communication, be it pictorial or written, often paid higher dividends than the publication of more elaborate media.

How to make the perfect caricature

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Charlie Anson @ 10:42 am

What’s the best way to create a great caricature? Well, you could have a go at it yourself. Most people have. In fact, the common perception is that drawing a caricature is far easier than drawing a straight portrait. All you have to do is give the guy big ears, a big nose, big eyes, exaggerate a trait here and there, and bingo! You have it. Something funny for all to laugh at. All of this might not seem to difficult at the outset.

However, a caricature is more than just a loose exaggeration of what we see. As anyone who’s tried to get a likeness of prince Charles just by drawing a big pair of ears will tell you. Getting that quite indefinable, uncanny “thing” is something that everyone can recognise, and very few can accomplish. So if you were after a really good caricature for a special occasion, choose your caricature well, and be prepared to be surprised. Subjective interpretations vary from person to person, but truly great caricature artists just have that knack of making a person instantly recogniseable to all.

And the greater the artist, the more a caricature can depart from photo-reality while not only retaining the essence of the person, but actually accentuating it. An artist like Gerald Scarfe will reduce a person to an axe, a ship, a feather, a monkey… and that caricature will be more “them” than they could ever be in a photo. Similarly, but in an entirely opposite stylistic direction, a pop artist such as Julian Opie will reduce a likeness to anly a a few traits, distill the character into a few dots and lines, retaining only the essence which makes that character entirely unique.

Caricature cartoons strike just the right balance

Filed under: cartoon caricatures — Tags: , , — Charlie Anson @ 10:33 am

When people think of caricature cartoons, they often think of goofy, ugly representations of people. The art has more often been associated with political satire on one hand, and with quick bits of tat purchased for fun at a party, or on a holiday abroad, on the other. Caricature cartoons serve an entirely different purpose. They serve not just to send up, but to celebrate an individual. Indeed, they strike the perfect balance between humour and seriousness, which is necessary to represent someone’s full character pictorially, without being rude or pretentious.

If portraits were to represent, as do caricature cartoons, not just physical attributes of a person, but all the background detail that makes that person interesting, they would be seen as objects of extreme vanity. Indeed, the sometimes pejorative title “vanitas” is given to portraits which cram together physical elements representing a person. A violin, an airplane ticket, a bunch of violets… The images seem to be crying out “look at me being so interesting… I bet you can’t decipher me!”

Simple exaggerations of people’s features, on the other hand, do just the opposite. They send up the most laughable traits of a person, which is why this medium is used for satire, or for low-value gifts, offered a s a joke. What sets caricature cartoons apart from both of these artistic strains, and what enables them to combine the best from the two, is that they show the best, while placing it in a desperate, slightly crazy situation. Thus the character appears both as eccentric and desirable, chaotic yet dynamic, out of control, and somehow in control of his or her own life. Caricature cartoons don’t emphasise the laughable aspects of a person’s face, they celebrate the exceptional aspects of a person’s life. While doing so in a medium while is playful, almost juvenile, in such a way as to distance any sense of ostentation or vanity.

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