I am appalled!
A $400 Million donation to a $30 Billion Institution!!
But when Malcolm Gladwell, the author of several non-fiction super-sellers such as The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, did those smart and sarcastic tweets on John Paulson’s donation to Harvard, some low-thinking individuals tried to bring the house down upon his head. (Read: Malcolm Gladwell just went nuts on a Wall Street billionaire’s $400 million donation to Harvard)
Here are some of his tweets:
First, I’d like to ask the Malcolm-critics:
What’s wrong with Gladwell criticizing the donation?
He’s got all the right in the world to drag Paulson’s name through the mud. After all, even I deserve that $30 Billion more than Harvard does. Why? Because I don’t have a billion, or even a million. I am so much poorer than Harvard – and that makes me more deserving of Paulson’s 400 Million donation.
Twitter has played cupid and made me fall in love with Gladwell who has said what I’ve been saying all along – albeit a bit differently, and a lot more humorously. People who can buy diamonds, shouldn’t buy them for their loved ones; people who have amassed a fortune, shouldn’t leave it their families – why? Because those loved ones are rich too…and hence they aren’t deserving enough – there are enough who are poorer (poverty being a relative concept,) and they must become the heirs to the rich.
There’s a pitfall in my reasoning though and that becomes my first argument in favor of what Paulson did. (Gasp again – I mean, how could he give it away all to Harvard? but I’ll reserve the whining for later…)
Argument 1: It’s my money – so I decide.
Most people are motivated to earn because they feel they have the right to decide how they must dispose their earnings – and most people prefer to spend their money on those who they love or care about. Recall that self-actualization need comes after family and belongingness needs (Abraham Maslow) – and your alma-mater is…well, your “nourishing mother” and hence family. John Paulson admits that he owes his unprecedented success to Harvard – and so he decides to gift “some of it” to his foster mother, who’s already rich no doubt, but who can still use that money to help her other “children” through life. How in the world does this compare with donating for the cause of poverty?
This of course, is one viewpoint.
Argument 2: I’d rather help those who can help others.
Another viewpoint is that – helping the ones who can help others results in greater benefit to mankind. So if Paulson thinks that his alma mater could find a good use for his money – he is actually investing in the future of mankind – and that in itself is an act of philanthropy. If an institution consistently produces billionaires and multimillionaires and they donate a part of their wealth for the poor of the world – the poor get more.
Argument 3: You invest in today, I invest in tomorrow.
For the third argument in Paulson’s defense, I would like to say that who one must donate to (or whether one must donate at all) is a personal choice – and giving money to an educational institution has a far greater impact on humanity than any other kind of donation. True that the impact may not be as immediate as in the case of donating food and health supplies, yet someone has to do it – or in a few centuries from now, we’d all have reverted to growling and snapping at each-other’s heels…we’d be back to living a life centered around fulfilling our basic needs.That would wipe the artists and the writers out of existence. And neither Mr. Gladwell nor I would like that. (Excuse my quick and distorted but inevitable time warp example. I am a caricaturist and I thrive on exaggeration, which brings the imperfection into sharp focus.)
But all said, I am still in love with Malcolm Gladwell – and I defend his right to tweet his thoughts. They are an exact echo of my thoughts, and I thank him for putting them across – because his words are stronger (and far more retweetable) than mine. I too would’ve preferred that John Paulson had directed at least a quarter percent of his donation towards me – the rest could go to poorer folks, along with the donations made by a zillion other billionaires and organizations.
And to top it all…Harvard just doesn’t need that money. The keyword here is “need,” you see?
Here’s a grey caricature of Gandalf the Grey that I did a couple of weeks ago. Just some sketching in Photoshop. As I said earlier, I don’t do a lot of digital sketching…but every once in a while, when I want to take a short break, digital sketching comes in handy.
Gandalf is a wizard of the Middle Earth. We first see him in The Hobbit (well, the chronology of the movies in which Gandalf’s character is played by Ian Mckellen, is different from the fictional chronology of the Lord of the Rings saga.) In fact, we see him almost right at the beginning of the book – when he meets Bilbo Baggins the short-statured but totally lovable hobbit, who is persuaded by Gandalf to join a group of dwarves who desperately needed his help to open a door guarded by the dragon.
Among all the characters that populate this famous trilogy (which gets rather verbose and on-the-verge-of-tears boring, at times,) I like Gandalf the best. He is multi-skilled and his personality multi-faceted.
In fact, if he was a real person instead, he could have chosen any of the following five highly remunerative and rewarding professions.
1. Gandalf the CEO of a Megabucks Corporation:
The guy is smart and sensible; on the inside he’s quite like the CEOs of today who specialize in getting others to do things that themselves couldn’t accomplish in ten lifetimes. Here’s an example.
He tries to recruit Bilbo for the team; when he doesn’t succeed, he sends the dwarves to Bilbo’s hole, and then attempts to get him onboard. Later, when he’s sure that Bilbo is sub-consciously sold on the idea, Gandalf leaves with the dwarves. When Bilbo joins them later, he thinks of it as his own decision. That’s exactly what CEOs do. They make us believe that we are the ones making our choices, when actually, they’ve already made the choice for us. Trust the judgment of a cynical caricaturist: a highly successful CEO of today lurks behind that grey beard and grayer robe.
2. Gandalf the Politician:
In today’s world, Gandalf would be a politician par-excellence. He understands the need to create a persona…thus the hat (not seen in this caricature, though), the robe, the muffler, and the gnarled stick. He is a slick talker and has the knack to disappear from the scene just when things begin to heat up. Remember the time when the dwarves and Bilbo meet those three trolls who’d have enjoyed a dwarves-roast, had Bilbo the blundering underdog of the story not blathered to save them? Where was Gandalf then? Guess what – He was away…working, sweating, finding information – for them…not for himself. Gandalf doesn’t do anything for himself does he? It’s all for the people he represents. And we are always expected to take his word for it.
If you don’t remember Mitt Romney, here’s the gentleman doing just the thing that Gandalf would’ve advised him against.
3. Gandalf the Consultant:
Gandalf would’ve really made his parents proud, had he chosen to work as a consultant. He comes across as an extremely risk-averse guy. You never see him putting a single penny of his into the adventures. He just rides along. He guides the adventurers with his knowledge and uses his contacts to ferret out useful information, but do you see him creating or manufacturing anything?
For a moment, assume that those adventurers didn’t have Gandalf to consult with; then what? Would they not reach their goal at all? Would they all sit like morons and do nothing. I don’t think so. In the good old times that existed before the now-ubiquitous-consultants arrived on the scene, the world was doing well. In fact, consultants are needed only when people and organizations get into businesses that they know nothing about, so thinks the caricaturist.
4. Gandalf the Shrink:
In this world of ours, Gandalf could’ve been a psychologist with a roaring practice. The LoR trilogy presents ample examples where Gandalf attempts to soothe crushed egos and bleeding hearts. (OK, not just a shrink, an agony aunt too.) He understands how the human mind works. In fact, he also understands how elves, dwarves, trolls, orcs, dragons and all the other creatures of the middle earth think. In fact, if he were real and he lived today, Sigmund Freud might’ve been his disciple – after all Freud could only claim that he knew about the machinations of the human mind, and especially how every mundane human act was powered by sexual desires.
I request those with a keen sense of observation, to compare the expressions of Sigmund Freud below to those of Gandalf’s above. You’ll see what I mean when I say that Gandalf could’ve been the coolest shrink ever.
5. Gandalf the Internet:
And yet, we couldn’t have an LoR without him, because he’s the guy who knows – and in the days of the yore, in the times of the middle earth, a man with knowledge was indeed handy. He was the middle earth counterpart of the Internet. The adventurers of the LoR trilogy had to just spit out a search-string and Gandalfoogle would whirr into action – spitting out results.
How Newton discovered Gravity?
Little was known about it until last night when I returned from a trip that I had made into the past. The real goal of my time-trip was to bring an authentic powdered wig to use as a reference for an illustration, and never in my wildest dream had I imagined that I’d stumble upon something of this magnitude.
I know that the moment I tell the truth of what I had witnessed in Newton’s Apple orchard, the Newtonians would be baying for my blood. They’d call me names and accuse me of telling lies. Thankfully, I have knowledge of the whereabouts of a mummified apple that bears the marks of Newton’s teeth. I think this half-eaten fruit will establish the veracity of this serendipitous historical discovery of mine.
With all those claims and disclaimers in place, let me tell you what truly transpired in Newton’s orchard that beautiful autumn evening. You know that my time machine isn’t as accurate as it used to be, so I can’t tell you the exact date, but it must have been the year 1667.
My Time Machine had just ground and screeched to a halt. I got out and pulled it behind a dense grove of trees, where I thought it would be safe from prying eyes. After hiding the machine, I looked around to discover that I had landed in an apple orchard. I found it a rather nice place to spend the night. In the morning, I could go to the nearest market and buy a couple of nice powdered wigs and then leave. But before I could get back into my machine and bring out my sleeping bag, I heard the leaves rustle. A snake? With my heartbeats gone berserk, I checked. No snake, No rat, it all looked peaceful and good.
What could it be then? A man perhaps? I realized that the leaves were indeed rustling under the feet of a man who appeared to be dressed quite properly…perhaps he was the owner of the orchard. The silhouette belonged to a tall thin man. He moved rather slowly, as if he were unhappy or depressed about something. His golden locks shimmered in the dim light of the crescent moon. This obviously meant that he wasn’t wearing a wig. Tough luck. I could’ve just snuck up behind him and stolen it, had he been wearing one. It would’ve saved me the trip to the market. (Oh… about stealing? There aren’t any Across-Time laws against it, are they?)
Any way, he wasn’t wearing a wig, but when he turned and dropped under one of the Apple trees, I saw his profile. I knew that face so well that I almost shouted his name out. He was Newton! Yes, the guy who discovered gravity and who fought with Leibnitz over the ownership of Calculus ( but he didn’t know about any of this at the time – I had come from the future, so I obviously knew all what he was going to do in the future.) I felt sort of sad for him – I wanted to reveal myself, tell him that he was going to be famous in future and so he didn’t have to look so sad, but I stopped myself. I didn’t really want to mess up my time with any sort of butterfly effect, if you know what I mean.
So I stood in the shadows and watched him. Trust me, I had no idea that I was about to witness the historical fall of a historical apple, so when it happened, I wasn’t ready with my camera. I wish I had real pictures of the event to share with you, Sorry folks. I’ll just narrate the sequence of events to you, and show you this pen and ink drawing that I made upon my return to our time.
This story wouldn’t be the story it is, if that apple hadn’t fallen on Newton’s head. But it did fall, right upon the middle of his head, and then bounced off, hit the ground, and rolled off a small distance then stopped. Recall that Newton was in the thralls of depression that evening. So he didn’t exclaim, “Eureka”, or “Gravity,” or even “Laws of Motion!” He merely picked the apple up, wiped it gently with his wing (ok, I am talking Newtonese, so?) and sunk his teeth into it.
This is exactly what happened, and truthfully speaking, it was quite disappointing for me who was sure that this was THE apple. Perhaps not. Perhaps this wasn’t the apple that made him discover gravity. Either I was too early in time, or too late. I experienced a very real sense of loss…I mean, why couldn’t it have been that special apple?
I looked at him again. With that sad, depressed look in his eye, he went for another bite…and then he jumped. The apple still in his hands, his eyes were fastened on to something on or in the apple! I squinted to take a better look, adjusting my eyes to the low-light conditions.
“What…who are you?” said Newton.
“I am the Prince of Worms. Now will you please put the apple down so that I may crawl back to my home. Please,” requested the worm that had pulled itself out of a neatly drilled hole in the apple. Aside he grumbled, “It’s going to take me the whole night to crawl up now,”
“Why should I let you go?” asked Newton who was happy to have found an interesting pastime. Recall that he couldn’t have watched The Big Bang Theory to kill his ennui, because television wasn’t invented then.
“Oh well. What do you want?” asked the worm.
“I’ve got enough to live by, and I don’t have a wife nor children – so money isn’t something I want.”
“But there must be something that you’d like to have?”
“Fine,” said Newton, “can you make me famous?”
“Wow! Who do you think I am? The djinn?” said the worm, and then as an afterthought he added, “wait a minute. I have something that could make you famous.”
This obviously was something that interested Newton.
“What it it? Tell me and I’ll let you go.”
So the deal was struck. The worm sold the secret that had remained safe with his family for millions of generations. The biggest scientific discovery of all times, Gravity, now belonged to Newton. Newton was a man of his word. He let the worm go, then got up, dusted the seat of his tights, and rushed off.
The worm returned to his family, ashamed of the deed and was naturally castigated by his family. “You should’ve become a martyr instead of giving away the family secret,” shouted his grandfather. “You’ve brought the family nothing but shame,” said his father. All in all, his family gave him a really hard time, and before morning he had taken his own life by jumping into a cup of water.
I was there, I had witnessed it all – so I decided to set the record straight. Under the same apple tree under which Newton sat, I mummified and buried the half-eaten apple that had the wormhole, and the marks of Newton’s teeth on it. I know the exact location – right to the coordinates!
I have the proof, Dear Newtonians!
This post discusses the how and why of cartooning the eye.
While this post presents the essence of Chapter 5, it stands alone and doesn’t directly draw upon your learning from the previous chapters, except in on place, where I’ve added a relevant link.
The four images that I am adding here are almost self-explanatory, so I am going to keep the text to a minimum.
Importance of the Cartoon Eye
Well, two dots should suffice, shouldn’t they?
Guess they should, if you know what to do with those dots, because if you really want to draw cool cartoons, you need to go beyond the stick-figures and cookie-faced smilies (unless of course your mind-space is dominated by the conceptualizer.)
But I am serious when I ask you to stretch, squeeze, and twist the two dots of the eyes to make your cartoon characters come alive. Eyes are by and far the most important feature on the face of any creature (animals and humans alike.) They express. Period.
Please ref to Chapter 5 – Fig 1 below, where I present my case.
The Uber-complex Structure of the Human Eye
The human eye is complex, and I am not talking about the internals of the eye. If I were talking about caricaturing the eye, I’d probably tell you stuff like “eye is spherical,” “the eyeball’s curvature is slightly different from that of the iris’…”, etc., but because cartooning requires that we simplify, why not begin by simplifying our learning, and focusing only on stuff that will impact our cartoons.
In the following image (Chapter 5 – fig: 2 for future reference,) you can see the simplistic structure of the human eye. It still is complex…but you don’t have to remember it all – just observe and move on.
Simplifying the Eye
Now let us start simplifying the structure of the eye. Note that the moment we sacrifice any of the 8 basic elements of the human eye, we arrive in the realm of cartooning. Let us see how we can simplify the eye by removing each of the elements, until we are left with just the dot. Also note how life continues to fade out of the eye as we keep reducing the elements.
The decision of simplicity vs. complexity has to be taken in view of our need to capture and transmit the cartoon character’s emotions through its expressions. Practically, concerns such as the actual size of the drawing, the number of characters in it, (perhaps even the effort you can spare for your cartooning assignment,) will influence your decision-making. The more complex you want your drawings to be, the more space you need to bring them to life.
The following figure (Chapter 5 – fig: 3) shows you a Cartoon look vs. Details graph that will help you understand the above rambles.
Some Cartoon Eyes
Here are some cartoon eyes. In the second row these eyes are coupled with their respective brows. The brows and the eyes work as a couple and help us accentuate the expressions.
Chapter 5 has more on the eyes, so I am not concluding it here with a Chapter End-Note. I will soon making a couple of posts on how to cartoon the human face.
- Find more posts from the book “Evolution of a Cartoonist – How to Draw Cartoons” here.
- “Evolution of a Caricaturist – How to Draw Caricatures” will soon be available on the Apple App Store. If you’d like to be informed about it, please register here.
What triggered this post?
If you know me, I try not to tell people how to do something unless it’s about drawing. However, I’ve had about enough of every parent making a future artist out of every little child who may or may not be born to stay creative all his life. (Note that only 2% of the human population retains a highly active right-brain, right into their adulthood.) I’d like all those who love to draw and paint to become artists, and not the vice-versa (either way. Go figure… there’s a 98% chance that you’ve got an active left-brain, so you are the genius,) and this is why I decided to make this post. I expect to be lambasted by some…but I really don’t care – because if you indeed have a little artist in your family, he or she deserves a happier and more productive childhood than your constant meddling would result in.
A quick point to note here is that you’d never hear parents saying that their son or daughter is a born doctor, engineer, lawyer, politician etc. Yet, the moment a child puts the first stroke of color on a piece of paper, they begin seeing a Norman Rockwell, a Salvador Dali, or at least an Andy Warhol in their child. The Indian parents possibly see a Raja Ravi Verma, an Anjoli Ela Menon, or at least an MF Hussein in their baby.
Before I tell you the symptoms and give you the tips, I’d like to make an assertion, “almost all kids draw.”
Almost All Kids Draw.
Given a piece of paper and pencil, every child would draw. My dear parents, a child doesn’t need your constant observation followed by your continual chiding to become an artist. If anything, it’s going to put him or her off art for life. Just because a child draws doesn’t mean there isn’t an Einstein, a Michael Jackson, a Whitney Houston, or even an Abraham Lincoln hidden in him or her. When a child is expected to excel at something that was just a manifestation of curiosity – the expectation and the following demands from the parents could lead to a severe inferiority complex in the child. So, leave the child alone to discover. Kids want to be something different each year, and they generally haven’t made up their minds until they are in their mid-teens.
Yet a few of the millions of kids growing up at any given time are born to be an artist, a scientist, a singer, an actor…and because their internal need to become what they are meant to be is in their blood (figuratively speaking,) they end up becoming what they were meant to be – with or without any help from their parents. What the parents can do is, not to block the way of their child’s natural mental evolution.
I have an excellent recollection of the things that I hated as a child. These things did make me step away from art many a times. If you are wondering whether I must be pathologically emotional to remember small things such as these, I must make you aware of another fact. If your child is of the artistic-kind, he or she may be over-emotional, over-empathizing, over-sensitive etc. We are all like that. My maternal great-grandfather died when he joined the medical college, because he couldn’t handle the dissection of a corpse that he had to do because his father wanted him to become a doctor and was unable to accept that his son was meant to be a poet. Remember, that if your child is made for becoming an artist, you’ve got a kid who scores higher on emotions and less on practical decision-making.
However, if you have a child that’s meant to be a normal, productive, practical citizen of the world, and you’ve branded him or her an artist, you are still doing a disservice to your progeny. You’d build expectations around your child that the poor kid won’t be able to fulfill. This will lead to confusion and overall drop in the development of your child’s personality.
While my best tip on this is – let the child discover and choose, don’t brand him or her too early in life, I know that as a parent, you’ll never be able to do that, so..
In my opinion, these are the 5 Childhood Symptoms that could stamp “Artist” on the forehead of your child.
5 Childhood Symptoms of an Artist
Symptom 1. Notebooks are for Drawing. Period. (Age: 5-6)
Your child’s notebooks and books are filled with drawings that surprisingly make sense to even your jaded senses. Even at this tender age, the artist-child’s drawings will demonstrate an innate understanding of proportions. Note that I am not talking about a hut, three triangular hills for the background, and four stick figures in the foreground. That’s regular stuff. You need not worry that your child will go to the dark side (namely art) if this is all he or she draws. I am talking about newer stuff. Attempts to draw a bird, an elephant, not just a flower, but a rose…that kind of thing.
Symptom 2. Comics are for Looking at Pictures – and definitely not for Reading (Age 7-8)
Your child prefers lonely corners to read comics and other illustrated books. Closer observation reveals that the illustrated pages don’t turn for a rather long-long time. The child’s notebooks are now filled with more interesting and more detailed drawings. The proportions in the figures are funnily always right. You begin to fear that your child is beginning to trace pictures and passing them off as his or her own. If you get that feeling, don’t share it with your child. You’ll break a tiny trusting heart. Others (in your family and your friend circle) begin to notice that there’s something special about your child…and they begin to make unflattering remarks such as, “isn’t your child a bit shy?”, “why doesn’t she go out and play?”, “don’t you think you must meet a counsellor?” – Ignore, if your child is really producing eye-catching drawings during this time. Artists aren’t very outgoing people. Even grown artists prefer the solitude of their studios. Talking to people, laughing inanely at stuff because it’s socially appropriate to do so, is an anathema to most artists.
Symptom 3. First Experiments on Creating Likeness Begin (Age 9-10)
Your child tries to impress you by creating a drawing with an unfailing likeness of you, your spouse, or your dog…of the family. While you shouldn’t be the one telling the child that he or she is an artist, when the child looks for approval, you should be the first one to give it. Yes, you need to provide the child with approval not with a set of dos and don’ts.
Remember that even when you force a child to use a medium of “your” choice to draw, you are forcing the child. Let the kid choose. (For your benefit, if you can draw/color with one medium, you can do it with any other medium. It’s the expression of the picture that forms in the mind that makes an artist, not the medium of expression.)
A Piece of Advice for the well-meaning parents:
Don’t Prattle. This is also the time when the child will experience negativity and jealousy in the environment. Other parents will begin to question the authenticity of your child’s work, because you as a proud parent will be brandishing the artwork done by your child under everyone else’s noses – and while they’ll go “wow”, “fantastic”, and “prodigy” in front of you, they’ll call your child aside and ask where he traced it all from or whether you were the one who drew it instead. This will imprint on to the child’s mind and will remain there forever. Trust me on this.
Symptom 4. Don’t Show me Off! I am not a Performer! (Age 10-12)
Around this age, your child’s progress as an artist will accelerate. Recall that mediums don’t ever matter to an artist – nor will they to your little budding artist. Let the child be, and unless the child wants to show you stuff, don’t meddle. Also don’t go around telling everyone in the family how good an artist your child is. It may help the budding singer, the budding dancer…or any other budding performance artist; it doesn’t help the budding artist. The output of the artistic process requires many iterations before it becomes perfect, and believe me, it’s a time-consuming process.
Asking a child to draw something from scratch in front of a group of uncles, aunts, cousins, is like setting up a time-bomb in the child’s heart. The kid wants to please you, and so tries to draw under pressure, and fails to create something that is really pleasing. This remains in the child’s mind forever. In future, your child will either hide the drawings from you, or draw less. If your child is an artist and you know it, let it be a secret between both of you. Remember that a painter is not a performing artist – a painter is an introvert by nature, a performing artist an extrovert. A painter lives in a world of imagination, a performing artist thrives on interactions. Also remember that the right brain is not just associated with creativity, it’s also associated with feelings, imagination, intuition, and mental imagery. So this child will be a lot more sensitive to everything – to the good and to the bad.
Symptom 5. Almost there. Freebies and Desperation! (Age 12-15)
This is the time when you reap the fruits of your labor, either way.
If you kid was meant to be an artist, either your constant ministrations, your attempts to show-off, and your unrealistic expectations have already veered the child completely off art; or if your kid was meant to be next Einstein, you’ve woven a complex web of confusion around the child. This is also the time, when in 9 out of 10 cases, you wake up to realize that your kid drew only because all kids draw, and that now he or she must become an engineer, doctor, lawyer, or if nothing else, at least a politician.
However, if your son or daughter indeed were to become an artist, you’ll see symptoms such as an increased propensity towards loneliness, increased consumption of art material, increased disregard for neatness…and so on and so forth. If you see this – talk to your child, send him or her to an art-school instead of forcing the kid to find an alternative to Napier’s Constant or dissect a poor squirrel. Most painters are drunk on their imagination – so if you begin to see that dreamy look in your teenager’s eyes, don’t assume the worst. Now you know that a dozen years or so ago, you really had given birth to an art-prodigy.
I’d still recommend that you let the artist child be and not indulge your natural desire to bask in the glory of your child’s abilities. It is going to increase the work-load on your child. Didn’t get it, did you? Let me illustrate. I can’t even recall the exact number of free drawings I’ve made in my life – until one day I was so broken that I decided to decline every damn request of free drawing that came my way. I presume I hurt people on my way – if hurting freeloaders counts, but I just couldn’t bring myself to draw for nothing again. The thought had begun to repel me. Twenty years of drawing for nothing is something, isn’t it? Remember that art too takes time, energy, and it often leaves you with lower and upper back problems. The more you tell your relatives, friends and associates about your child’s artistic abilities, chances are that she will be spending all her waking moments, making free stuff that will hang in someone’s bathroom – all because you didn’t want your child to say no to Mrs. X or Mr. Y.
A Final Note:
In my opinion, a real artist is someone whose work is appreciated by the common man on the street – he or she is the one who was born to be an artist, because this person doesn’t need someone with a studied, conscious, acquired appreciation of art, to appreciate or criticize his or her artwork. We all are born with the innate visual sensibility that helps us differentiate between the artistic wheat and the feigned chaff. This is why, a real artist is appreciated by everyone (exceptions being those who have a personal axe to grind with the artist,) and such artists can exist as nothing but artists. Dear Moms and Dads, remember that facilitation is different from force-feeding. Making an 8-year old child take a course in art, just because you think she or he is good at it – is forcing them to change a happy vocation into a duty.
The best help that you can possibly offer is to be there for them when they need you. These kids are different – they are both a little better and a little worse than their peers.
A Parting Note:
Artist-kids (for want of a better term,) have visual memories. They’ll always remember everything visually…and some of them will possibly remember visuals from the time when they were two or three years old. Those visuals won’t make sense to them until much later, but as they mature, they’ll begin to give meanings to each of those visuals. I don’t know how you’d like to use this information, but I hope it helps.
And the Inevitable Disclaimer (with gratitude to the genius who first thought of disclaimers.)
This post is based on an artist’s experiences and recollections. It’s not based on any sort of controlled research done on child-artist guinea-pigs. Use the tips given with caution. Apply your parental instincts to decide what’s right for you and your family.
if you know any young parents, share this post, as a toast to all those artists who are still in their diapers 🙂
Oh…before I leave…
I am not sure if it isn’t a good idea to eliminate the possibility of your child falling into the clutches of the Art-demon. Here’s my take on it…of course, satirically 🙂 Download the free eBook at:
… the Caricaturist travels to Qo’noS, 2375!
Last evening I received a missive bearing the insignia of the Klingon High Council. I was directed to appear before Martok the Chancellor. Armed with this little piece of information, I foraged the Internet and discovered that accepting this invitation would mean traveling forward in time and arriving in the year 2375. I also checked out Chancellor Martok’s picture on Wikipedia. I am used to meeting pseudo-humans of both the earth-dwelling and the alien variety, still his bizarre physiognomy with his ridged forehead left me a little dazed. I wanted to decline the invitation, but my curiosity pushed me to throw a couple of sketch-pads, two overalls, my box of Derwent color pencils, my Intuos tablet, my laptop, and a few other electronic knickknacks into a backpack, and climb into the pod they had so kindly sent to pick me up.
This particular time-pod was nothing like the clunker that I bought in a garage sale, years ago. This was a state-of-art machine with gleaming edges, softer than the softest cushions, organic air-conditioning, hidden pantries that automatically assessed your hunger-quotient, combined it with your other biometrics, and served you the right food that looked and tasted exactly like your favorite dish. All in all, the interiors were super-impressive! The ETA was 9:00 PM, which meant that I had about half an hour to relax.
I wondered if time-travel in this pod, allowed for Internet access. The moment the thought popped up in my head, I heard the Donkey-voice of Mike Myers tell me that I could access Internet during my journey through the wormhole, but the access won’t be available on the other side, so I’d better hurry.
I thanked him, and was about to pull out my iPad from the backpack when the donkey suddenly materialized in front of me. He looked as real as he does in Shrek. I shrieked and almost fainted as he brought his face close to mine, and with that hurt look in his eyes, he said to me, “Please! I don’t wanna go back there, you don’t know what it’s like to be treated as a freak!… Well, maybe you do… but that’s why we gotta stick together! You gotta let me stay!”
I sort of agreed with his assessment of my freakiness, but I recalled him saying something similar to Shrek, so a small voice told me that the donkey wasn’t real, and it was a futuristic computer program playing 3D tricks on my mind. That calmed me down. I looked straight into his eyes and said, “No you can’t, because you are a computer program, and you’ll automatically be left behind, when I leave this pod.”
The donkey’s routine was obviously written by a programmer who suffered from the frog-in-the-well syndrome and didn’t expect regular time-travelers to be smart, so the moment the donkey heard me, he flickered and then disappeared.
I took a deep breath, gathered my thoughts, pulled out my iPad, typed “Martok” in the Google search box of Safari.
It was all there…everything about him. About his humble beginnings, about his abduction in 2371, just four years ago in the future when I was supposed to meet him. About his becoming the chancellor, and about his family. I committed their names to memory. Lady Sirella and Drex.
I didn’t realize how much time had passed, until the door of the pod slid open. I hadn’t felt it decelerate so the opening of the pod door and the realization that the pod was now standing still on the ground, surprised me a little. The Clunker that I have at home…oh, never mind!
I hauled the bag up on my shoulders and stepped out in a large dome-shaped room where the floor gradually sloped up into the walls that converged to form the roof. As my eyes adjusted to the light conditions, I realized I was inside a sparkling white hemisphere, with no door or window, or anything else in sight – it was an endless, unbroken, and closed expanse of white in all three dimensions. I panicked and turned, thinking that I’d rather wait inside the pod, but…the pod had vanished. I was left standing there in the middle of white nothingness. A wave of nausea hit me and my knees gave way. Why in the name of caricatures, did I accept this idiotic invitation?
I knew the answer. Martok’s message had made me gloat. It told me that my fame had grown beyond the earth, beyond Atlantis, beyond the constraints of time, into the future…and let us be serious, who in his right mind would refuse an invitation by the Chancellor of Klingon High Council?
I heard the footsteps but I tried to ignore them because at this point, I didn’t want to be disappointed again. Artists hallucinate all the time – this could be another hallucination. The footsteps came closer. I still didn’t open my eyes, I wanted to be sure that there indeed was someone or something – I really didn’t care if it was Jabba the hutt…or actually I did, but then Jabba existed in a different paradigm…of Star Wars and not Star Trek, and so he couldn’t be there any way. My mind was mixing stuff up and feeding my anxiety and my fear!
A soft, soothing voice in my head found way through the confusion that raged in my mind. The voice told me to open my eyes and stand up. The charisma of the voice washed over me leaving me clean – devoid of negativity and fear.
I opened my eyes and saw them. They were smiling. All three of them were smiling, and Martok looked a lot less intimidating when he smiled. Lady Sirella raised her hand and the white around us cleared. Now we were standing in their cosy living room that had a rich oriental look. She motioned me to sit, and then she poured me a steaming hot cup of tea. Just what was needed to soothe my nerves. Chancellor Martok, in the meantime, got up and went to one of the cupboards that lined the walls. He came back with an arm-load of albums.
“Lady Sirella and I wanted to commission you for a few caricatures,” he said.
So…ladies and gentlemen of this blog’s viewership,
I am in Qo’noS the home planet of Martok. I’ve been given a comfortable to place to work, and my job is to create caricatures and portraits of Martok and all his near and far relatives. I try to make them look as nice as possible, but very often it’s impossible. The good news however is that they consider me downright ugly and they deem themselves to be the most beautiful people in the entire universe. I hope they never learn what I think. If you’ve not seen my perspective on perspectives, go here.
I’ll return soon, I promise…only about a dozen more to go.
As a woman I not expected to talk about Batman, but as a caricaturist I couldn’t care less about what I am expected to do, so here are my two cents about the recent controversy about Ben Affleck playing Batman.
Why Batman’s Costume freaks me out?
It’s black and gold. In my opinion, this combination can look good only on a fair-complexioned woman. I understand the logic – bats are black – Granted. But then why is the utility belt all golden? Do bats wear golden belts?
- It’s got those two cat-ears jutting up – why? What purpose do they serve, except making Batman look like more like a Catman than a Batman? Check out the ears of a bat here, and those of a cat here. I mean, just because they didn’t want Batman look like a gremlin, they twisted the ears sideways.
- The gaping hole in the cap (or head-shroud or whatever else it’s called.) Remember the only hole in the costume where Batman’s mouth fits in. Now if Spiderman can talk through the spandex costume that he wears, why did Batman need this wide hole that exposes his cheeks, chin, nose, and jaw? I think it was designed to make it easier for him to kiss women, when he wasn’t fighting the Joker. (Actually, that makes me wonder whether his costume has a zipper camouflaged with a black fly? What if he has to take a leak at a time when he’s trying save his city from the Joker’s wrath?)
Actors who’ve played Batman in the past – through my Distorted Lenses.
- Remember Michael Keaton? If he could be Batman with the Koala face that he borrowed from Sheldon and never returned, what’s wrong with Affleck?
- Remember Val Kilmer as Batman? He could’ve been the coolest Batman – and everyone was cool about his becoming Batman, but it didn’t work out at all, did it?
- Then you had George Clooney filling in the shoes? George Clooney?!! Really? Ten years from now or even five, Ben Affleck would have mutated completely into George Clooney – so if GC has been the Batman – what’s wrong with Ben Affleck?
- Oh, and then came Christian Bale. There are horror tales of people tearing up the seats in the halls so that they may use the sponge to stopper their ears. They hated his voice. Now look. Who’s swooning, drooling, and dribbling all over Mr. Bale?
- Robert Lowrey (I’ve no idea…honestly.)
- Adam West (the Batman who batted the longest.)
- Lewis G Wilson (the first Batman who was short and stocky.)
So what’s wrong with Ben Affleck?
- True, he looks more like a banker than a storehouse of steroids, but then Michael Keaton has that used-car-salesman look about him – yet he did okay.
- True, he doesn’t look athletic, but then Clooney didn’t either. And honestly, there’s nothing that can’t be handled through CG effects. In fact, I’ve not been spotted yet, or I could be Batman.
- True, his voice has the Boston Accent (I wish I knew what that sounded like – but I am tone-deaf.) But then Bale’s voice had an alien bass, and now we’re drooling all over him – wondering why he threw the offer of $50M (Gosh!)
New Visitors, Please excuse this idle prattle of a flu-ridden caricaturist who has temporarily lost her ability to appreciate the difference between reality and fiction. Usually she isn’t like this. When sane, she knows that Atlantis is real, Internet is virtual, and the real world is fictitious. If you are here on a serious errand, please don’t waste another precious moment on this post.
- If you are looking for caricatures to ridicule a celebrity of your choice, please click the Gallery Icon in the right sidebar.
- If you want to learn how to draw caricatures and/or are specifically looking for my book “The Evolution of the Caricaturist”, again check the sidebar, and add your email id in the tiny form given there, or use this link here. I’ll email you when it comes out on the App Store. It is due to arrive there shortly.
- If you are wondering why the Interactive tutorials aren’t up yet, it’s because I lost the free fonts that I had used in those tutorials and now I need to replace the fonts, reformat the tutorials, and re-export them before I serve them from my new site.
None of the above?
Then please read on.
Most of my readers know that Atlantis is my favorite blog-holiday destination. When I disappear from the blogosphere, it’s because I’ve snuck off to Atlantis. I am still here in Atlantis and I am here of my own volition. You don’t have to remind me that the first time that I visited Atlantis ever, it was not because I wanted to, but because I was abducted. You may call it the Stockholm Syndrome, but I developed a soft-corner for my abductors when I realized that all they wanted from me was to create a caricature illustration of a happy couple, which could be given to them as a wedding gift.
I happily complied with their wishes, completed the caricature, enjoyed the party, and went off to bed in a beautiful room that had a huge glass wall on one side. On the other side of this wall was the ocean, and I could see the corals, the sea urchins, and also a giant vampire squid that had this really scary unblinking stare. I admit that the wall was slightly unnerving on my first night there, but I soon got used to it.
In fact, I gave the squid a name – Anthony Tweiner. In my humble opinion, the Atlantasian vampire squids are the Sheldon Coopers of sea. I say this because on my next visit to Atlantis, I requested for the same room and tapped Anthony Tweiner on the glass wall, and Mr. Tweiner, who was nowhere to be seen until then, appeared suddenly, recognized me and dashed towards the wall. Thankfully all his weiners…oops, tweiners (it appears that I can’t get over my tryst with Mr. Anthony Weiner’s caricature,) were neatly tucked in behind him, or he would’ve broken a couple. He was happy…, rather elated…, umm…, actually rhapsodic, to see me back. I too was happy, but about something else. I celebrated his lack of access to an Internet connection or he would have tweeted the closeups of all his tweiners to me – and the kind of open-minded society that Atlantis is, they would’ve told me that it was Mr. Tweiner’s way of paying me a compliment.
Anyway, I don’t want to split my split-ended hair anymore, nor spin a long yarn longer, so to snip them both short – I’ve been visiting Atlantis quite often. And why not? They pay well and they treat me like a queen, because none of the Atlantasians draw (you won’t either, if you were living in a Utopia that had a per capita annual income of $100K (that’s the exact double of the US), no taxes, no sexism, no racism, no terrorism, none of those other myriad -isms that humanity is plagued with.) They’ve also set up a small studio and office for me to work from, and anointed me as the National Caricaturist of Atlantis. And I must not forget to mention that I’ve got Anthony Tweiner to keep me entertained.
This is why I sneak off to Atlantis whenever I can, my friends.
What was that?
Speak up please. I can’t hear you.
Why you, why not us?
Oh I get it. You are wondering why I get to become to the National Caricaturist of Atlantis, and why not you.
It’s simple my friend. I believe in Atlantis, so I get to go there, I get to meet all those cool Atlantasians, I get to befriend Anthony Tweiner, and of course, become their National Caricaturist…
You see, it’s quite like religion. They say if you believe in heaven, you find it; if you don’t then you don’t. If you believe in Atlantis, you’ll find it; if you don’t, you won’t.
So, will I see you here, sometime soon?
In this post, I’ll differentiate between caricatures and portraits through their intent, structure, and usage.
Portraits – Definition
A portrait is an close approximation of a person’s face/figure in a manner that it captures the person’s attitude and personality.
Caricatures – Definition
A Caricature is a humorous likeness of a person’s face/figure, created through selective exaggeration of his/her physiognomy (facial features) and other physical attributes.
(Source: “Evolution of a Caricaturist – How to Draw Caricatures” )
Portraits vs. Caricatures – Similarities and Differences
Let us now compare the two definitions.
Here are the similarities…
- Portraits and Caricatures both have a likeness to their subjects. (Read about Likeness here.)
- They are both an artist’s interpretation of a person’s face/figure.
and the differences:
- A Portrait is a close-approximation of the real face/figure, while a Caricature uses selective exaggeration.
- A Portrait is based on a serious study to capture the mood, while a Caricature creates a humorous likeness.
These differences can be analyzed and reorganized under Intent, Structure, and Usage.
Portraits vs. Caricatures – Intent
They differ in intent, or in the intention with which they were created. Portraits are usually created as a memorabilia. Sometimes they are created to celebrate a person’s status or to mark an occasion. Generally they are created to address the esteem needs of a person.
Caricatures, however, are tight little bundles of humor, wit, or satire. They are created to present the subject in a funny manner. Caricatures ridicule and sometimes even insult the subject. When the objective of a caricature is merely to present the subject in a funny light, selective exaggeration of the features does the job. Ridicule and Insult usually requires that in addition to making the subject look funny, the caricature should also tell a story.
Portraits vs. Caricatures – Structure
Portraits are created by replicating the proportions and the colors as closely as possible. The objective is to achieve 100% likeness (this objective however is seldom met, except in the works of the hyper-realists, perhaps.)
Caricatures on the other hand, are created by exaggerating certain/all the features of the subject. Thus, a long nose becomes longer, small eyes become smaller, light wrinkles go deep, and a jutting chin juts out some more. Such exaggerations aren’t limited only to the face. A man with a slight stoop bends over totally, a woman with a tiny waist ends up with almost no waist at all.
Portraits vs. Caricatures – Usage
Portraits find their place on the walls of the living-rooms, the conference halls, the important buildings…in fact, portraits bring forth the need to respect or at least acknowledge the subject of the painting. If you see a portrait of someone in a certain place, you can be sure that the subject of the portrait is/was an important person for the inhabitants of that place.
Caricatures often have a shorter life and generally people don’t want to display them in prominent places. Political/celebrity caricatures are often created for magazines and newspapers so that they may print them alongside to present a witty/humorous angle to their features and stories. Individuals too sometimes get their caricatures done, usually to mark an occasion (such as marriages, birthdays, etc.) Quickly drawn, sketch-caricatures are often drawn live. Live-caricatures are often used to spice up parties and other such events.
To sum up, Portraits and Caricatures are different in more ways than one 🙂
Now the Spoiler:
If we look at the dictionary definition of Portraits, we’d be stumped to discover that portraits aren’t necessarily required to be “close approximations.”
Here’s what my table-dictionary has to say:
A portrait is – ” pictorial representation of a person showing the face.”
So, technically speaking, a caricature too is a portrait 🙂
Some more search terms that brought people here…and my favorite is…”Neanderthal Man realizes that he’s outclassed by Homosapien Man”!
Search Term 1: Types of Artists
There are 4 Types of Artists – Starving, Dying, Dead, and Rich. If you don’t believe me, read this book. If you belong in the first three-categories, will you or your ghost be kind enough to leave a review? I believe the fourth kinds would have neither the time nor the motivation to read it 🙂
Search Term 2: Wire Fox Terriers with Adolf Hitler
Until today, I didn’t know if WFTs ever favored Hitler. If I were a WFT, I’d have bitten his head off. The Alsatians never had a chance because they were bred by those Nazi jokers. But then, what did I know – until this search made me wiser. Hitler did have a white WFT and his name was Fuchs. His mistress eva braun had a couple of Scottish Terriers – but the lady was no dog-lover, so I wonder whether those terriers were more of a style statement.
Search Term 3: I am depressed and lonely
Search Term 4: Freudian Slip Caricature
Search Term 5: Caricature of Edward Newton
Search Term 6: Neanderthal Man realizes that he’s outclassed by Homosapien Man
I loved this search. “Outclassed?!” Imagine two classy guys – a Neanderthal and a Homosapien doing all the classy things that men do – stuff like asset-evaluation, what-o-graphy, playing golf, dining out, finding a trophy wife (of the Neanderthal variety) – etc., and the Neanderthal thinking, “Hey! how come his stuff’s classier than mine?”
Search Term 7: Robert Langdon gay
Search Term 8: Gaddafi Caricature Hitler
Search Term 9:Raised eyebrow sketch
Search Term 10: 1 Minute Caricatures
- I don’t think they are going to be very good ones. If someone’s asked you to do live-caricatures @1 per minute, he must’ve escaped from 1. A Zoo, 2. An Asylum, 3. Guantanamo bay – so the best course of action for you is to disappear!
Search Term 11: shefali.wordprase.com
My dear valued visitor,
If you have been here before, you might be wondering whether you’ve arrived at the right address. I assure you that you have. While I’ve made a few changes to its look, but underneath it’s still the same. Nothing has changed, except that I’ve tried to make it easier for you to find my caricatures (new ones are coming…) and that I’ve taken off a few other pages from the menu.
A Snapshot of the Changes…
“Cool Caricaturists” will return on the sidebar, “The Evolution of the Caricaturist” can be accessed from the sidebar even now, and a couple of other pages have been renamed. My eBooks (sadly only two so far) are primarily satire and so they find a place under “Satire“. “The Time Machine” page is no longer there on the top menu but it’s available through the side-bar (yep! the avuncular looking gentleman with those soda-cap glasses.) The Gallery remains open 24×7 – accessible from the top- and the side-bars.
I’ve also updated the “About” page. This page used to be about a paragraph long earlier, and it led some of my visitors to share the observation that I am pretty stingy about sharing who I am. That isn’t true anymore for almost every important bit about this crazy caricaturist can now be found on the page. If your curiosity is piqued enough, check it out !
I’ve made some really cool caricatures (Hey, don’t give me that look. Every artist thinks that every squiggly that he’s ever drawn is cool.) I’ll soon share them here. (Now you know why I’ve renovated the site – it’s to welcome those brand-new caricatures!)
Bye then…I’ll see you again and soon 🙂
As this post refers to content that’s covered in the two previous posts of this series, it is recommended that you begin by reading them in sequence:)
Read the two previous posts of Chapter 1:
- Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 1 – How to Draw Cartoons – Introduction, Working Definition, and Three Examples.
- Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 2 – How to Draw Cartoons – The Two Essential Dimensions of a Cartoon.
This post helps you answer the question – Can YOU become a cartoonist?
This question is contextual, and the context is that of your current abilities. Here’s a continuum that you must find your place on.
If you are like the guy at the right, you are worried about expressing your ideas in a visual form. However, if you can identify with the guy at the left, you can draw and illustrate but you worry about finding the right ideas.
The Stronger-half of a Cartoonist – The Conceptualizer
If you are an idea-generation machine but you feel constrained by you drawing abilities, you need to pick up some basic cartoon-drawing skills that can help you do “a relatively simplistic and sometimes exaggerated visual portrayal” of the many ideas that keep rushing in and out of your minds, so that you may capture them into an awesome cartoon. However, if you feel that you are Mr./Ms. Ideo (represented by the day-dreaming gentleman in figure 2 below) – and that no matter how you wield that pencil, you can do no better than create a squiggly, you may want to team-up with an artist, who can create a picture that goes with your ideas…or perhaps, you could learn to create ultra-simplistic, Dilbert-Style cartoons that can speak your mind.
Mr./Ms. Ideo (The Conceptualizer in the following figure.) needs a visual medium of expression that can be used to capture those ideas that will grow wings and fly away, if they aren’t caught and trained.
The Fairer-half of a Cartoonist – The Illustrator
If you have placed yourself on the right side of this continuum, you must learn not only to generate ideas, but also train yourself on keeping them. I’ve gone through the learning-to-generate-ideas phases, and I must tell you that it isn’t easy. However, if you are like Mr./Ms. Arto ( represented by the horrendously dressed, lip-smacking (!) gentleman in figure 3 below) you might find that you require considerable practice to ensure that you find your ideas and keep them too. Perhaps a helping hand from a friend who has a fertile mind, could help. Yet if you teamed up right, you could end up creating fantastic cartoons to delight your readers.
Mr./Ms. Arto (The Illustrator in the following figure) can draw, but he faces issues in finding the right ideas and visualizing them in a way that fits them into the cartooning mold.
End Note for Chapter 1
(This end note is for those bright individuals, who think that they aren’t cartoonists and so they mustn’t create cartoons – and who identify themselves better with Mr./Ms. Ideo, I must mention the Johari window here, which speaks of the “Unknown Room”. Perhaps a comic post on the Johari Window is due on this blog, but for the time-being, it should suffice you to know that the Unknown Quadrant of the Johari Window, now called the Unknown Room, refers to your traits and skills that nobody know anything about, but they exist.
My advice here is that because you nor anyone else knows that they exist, just assume that they do (with due apologies to Mr. Joseph Luft (Jo) and Mr. Harrington Ingham (Hari) this is how the twisty logic of this caricaturist interprets it.) Dear Reader, possibly one of these unknown skills within you is the skill of cartooning…and nobody, not even you is aware of its existence, so dig it out! Surprise yourself, and surprise the world. Oh…and if you want to take the Johari Window Test, click here.)
Cartoons have a mysterious power to reach into the hearts and minds of people, and shake them out of their stupor. Before we move on to the apparently more practical matter of explaining what a cartoon is, I must mention the fact that sometimes the cartoons that change the face of the world, don’t come from the cartoonists. We’ll discuss the reason behind this anomaly later, but let me share an example to corroborate my viewpoint.
Benjamin Franklin, officially created the first American political cartoon in 1754, which depicted a snake severed into 8 parts with a caption “Join, or Die” to bring together the colonies – thus, sowing the idea of the United State of America, in the minds of the people.
Franklin is considered to be one of the founding father of the United States – among other things, he was an author, politician, scientist (he invented the bifocals and the Franklin Stove,) and a musician. Did you read the term cartoonist anywhere?
Reflect upon it while I disappear to bring you the second chapter of this book “Evolution of a Cartoonist” or the fourth post in the series. I hope this book will sow the seeds of cartooning into your mind, and motivate you to express your ideas in this delightful visual format.
Read the two previous posts of Chapter 1:
This is the abridged first chapter of the of the book, “The Evolution of a Cartoonist,” which will be substantially richer in content (theories and methods,) graphics, and examples is expected to be published by June 2013. The book will also include cartooning problems and assignments for practice. During this time, as and when I find the time to scan/photograph my sketchbooks and put together a cohesive summary of the chapter, I will publish it on my blog here.
I believe that everyone who can think and write, can make cartoons. Everyone gets ideas. Everyone would love to see their idea form into a cartoon. More often than not, the constraining factor is – the drawing skill. While almost everyone has got some experience with drawing, practical concerns made them forfeit their drawing skills. If you are such an individual, this book could help you rediscover and hone your ability to draw and motivate you to create cartoons that speak your mind.
About this Chapter:
This Chapter introduces you to cartoons, builds and explains a working definition of the term “cartoon,” and helps you establish the two essential dimensions of a cartoon. This Chapter is divided into the following topics:
- Cartoons – Definition and Illustrations
- The Two Essential Dimensions of a Cartoon
- The Visual Dimension
- The Conceptual Dimension
- Can YOU become a cartoonist?
- End Note
Let me begin in the usual lack-luster manner in which text-books usually begin, so that I may impress upon that this indeed is the first chapter of the book, “The Evolution of a Cartoonist.”
Here I go 🙂
Cartoons have always enthralled mankind, but with the advent of printing, their impact increased tremendously. Since the last century, cartoons have become a potent tool for bringing about social and political change. They’ve been the voice of the common man on street, and they’ve made many politicians shiver in their knickers.
However, the mighty cartoon has often been misunderstood. While cartoonists have struggled to find the middle ground between illustration and ideation, others have often wondered why they couldn’t be cartoonists themselves. After all, most cartoons look simple enough to draw!
2. Cartoons – Definition and Illustrations:
According to the two dictionaries that grace my cluttered and otherwise non-intellectual looking desk, a cartoon can be defined as:
A drawing intended as satire, caricature or humor…a ludicrously simplistic, unrealistic, or one-dimensional portrayal or version. – Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
A ludicrously critical or satirical drawing or caricature, as in a periodical. – Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary of the English Language.
I think that none of the two definitions do justice to the raw yet mysterious power of a cartoon. Let me use these two definitions as a base, add to them my own observations and experiences, and structure this simple yet more complete definition of a cartoon.
“A cartoon is a relatively simplistic and/or sometimes exaggerated visual portrayal of a critical, satirical, or humorous idea.” – Shafali the Caricaturist.
Let me illustrate this definition through some examples.
Example 1: Peanuts
Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz is a cartoon (more specifically, a comic strip, which is a string of cartoons with a common idea holding them together,) because: It is a relatively simplistic and exaggerated visual portrayal (compare to realistic visual portrayal) of a (subtly) critical, (sometimes) satirical, and/
or (definitely) humorous idea.
Example 2: Dennis the Menace
Dennis the Menace by Henry Ketcham is a cartoon, because: It is a relatively simplistic and exaggerated visual portrayal (less simplistic than Peanuts, yet a lot simplistic when compared to the realistic portrayal) of a critical (no,) satirical (no,) or humorous idea (yes, always.)
Example 3: Loneliness
While the other two examples were from popular comic strips, here’s a stand-alone cartoon. Let us see how this fares on the definition.
“Loneliness” is a cartoon because it is a relatively simplistic and sometimes exaggerated visual portrayal (a simplified sad woman with an exaggerated expression of sadness, sitting in front of a simplified computer at a simplified desk, in a simplified chair,) of a critical (yes,) satirical (yes,) or humorous (not very) idea.
The three examples given above are enough to tell us how widely cartoons differ from one another. A cartoon could be made using a few lines (Dilbert) and it can be made by using millions (Kal’s toons in The Economist); it could be used to present criticism, satire, or humor; it could be done in black-and-white (Dilbert again) or in hundreds of colors (Asterix); it could be political, social, organizational, historical, or even educational. This is also why most of us have the potential to be good cartoonists in our own areas of expertise. It’s important to remember that to be a good cartoonist, you need not be a great illustrator.
We’ll talk more about it in my next post, which will present the second part of this chapter, to discuss the two essential dimensions of a cartoon.
More Posts in this series:
- Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 2 – How to Draw Cartoons – The Two Essential Dimensions of a Cartoon.
- Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 3 – How to Draw Cartoons – Can YOU become a cartoonist?
When the Caricaturist was stuck inside her computer for three long days and three long nights, she spent most of her waking hours interacting with her files and folders. While there were many files that had to be “exterminated”, there were some that were saved. One of these files had some funny Search terms that had brought people to my blog in the past six months.
Here are some that I thought I must share with my sweet readers. I’ve added my first reaction to the term along. You are welcome to share yours 🙂
Huh?! Wicked dogs? Really? Wicked DOGs? WICKED dogs? I don’t know of any, and I’ve known more dogs than humans. Excuse my brutal honesty, but wicked is an adjective that applies exclusively to humans. So, dear searcher, I am not sure if you’ll ever succeed in your quest. Even if you are able to find a caricature of a so-called wicked dog, I assure you that the subject of that caricature never existed – and so, such a caricature would be a work of fiction.
Now this searcher has my complete attention. “Don’t want to work” is the stable human state. You know about stable states, don’t you? “Want to work” is the exact opposite state of “Don’t want to work,” and unfortunately “Want to work” a highly unstable, extremely volatile state to be in. If a person stays in “Want to work” state for too long, he or she might become explosive. I hope that this searcher succeeds in his or her quest of truth.
Yep! Justin “Beaver”. It’s so much more meaningful than that other surname that he uses…Bieber or something.
Beaver, according to this Wikipedia entry here is: “a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent.” Makes a lot of sense, especially to the Crabby Old Farts. While I am not sure about the “large” and the “semi-aquatic” part, I’d accept “nocturnal” (as it applies to everyone connected with the music industry) and “rodent” (check out his hair!)
An oxymoron. I can’t believe that a pretzel can actually be depressed. This search term doesn’t make sense to me – unless the searcher was in fact looking for my Toony Pretezel about Loneliness and Depression. Hey Presto! Here’s the said Pretzel!
I disagree. I think Nike women are a lot more discerning. They don’t just do it…they do it properly. But what would I know, I am an Adidas woman. Nike women are welcome to comment.
Easy! Draw someone and then draw a pencil in his mouth!
Hmm… Let me see. A handsome caricature…? I think I should point you to my Caricature Gallery. All my caricatures are handsome enough… at least they look handsome to me. It’s the same old reasoning that makes the Rhino-mom think that her baby rhino is the cutest kid in the universe…if you catch my drift.
Hah. You are looking for portraits…not cartoons or caricatures, my friend! Just get a photograph and you are done.
How many times do I have to tell you, my dear searcher o’mine blog? For Indian men, handsome and nakedness don’t go together! In fact, handsomeness and Indian-ness seldom goes together. We are some of the smartest people on planet Earth (and we are smart enough not to let people know that we are,) but we aren’t really “handsome” or “beautiful” – and we aren’t talking about the exceptions who prove the rule. (One exceptionally creative Italian lady would like to mention a few names here. She will try her best to discredit me, but then I ask her – has she seen those “handsome” India men naked? Ever?)
Oh, c’mon! The only Indian artist who had the guts to have herself photographed naked and then paint some naked self-portraits was Amrita Shergill, and she couldn’t have done it if she were a commoner or even completely (and I mean it in the genetic sense,) Indian. Her mom was French, and Indians are quite forgiving of the lapses by semi-firangs (semi-foreigners.) And yet, something drove Amrita Shergill to commit suicide at the young age of 28.
We have come a long way since then…my friend. Now we don’t even dare to think of doing “terrible” stuff like that. Stay safe, my friend, stay safe!
For some inexplicable reason, if you are interested in reading more SEO Humor (humor? Really?) posts, here are four other loony posts that I made in the past.
The next stopover in Governor Mitt Romney‘s campaign is the blog of this caricaturist. Of course, he doesn’t know about it yet. While you may find this caricature of Romney a tad unflattering and you may also feel like suggesting that this caricature definitely cannot be a campaign poster for Mr. Mitt Romney. Yet, if you’ve been following him, he might just end up doing another political gaffe by actually picking up this caricature for his poster.
Which caricature, you ask?
Well, this one 🙂
(It isn’t looking bright and nice because it’s a photograph of the drawing, with enough shadows of the paper’s grain to make it almost un-usable. The drawing is 8 inches by 11 inches, and I will scan it the day I get my scanner repaired, which may take a long time…actually.)
The regular visitors of my blog must’ve slipped into the lazy habit of expecting the shortest possible biography of the person I caricature. To indulge them, here’s a short and crisp bio on this gentleman, who was once on the list of the top 50 most beautiful people in the world, by one of those best-of-the-best kind of magazines – People Magazine.
Mitt Romney – A Short Biography
Mitt Romney was born in 1947. He was born to a rich and influential couple (naturally, his silver spoon-fed childhood has attracted many unsavory comments from his political rivals,) but he wasn’t a spoiled little brat, ever. While he wasn’t Einsteinian bright at school, he did quite well at college, and graduated with a degree in law and management both, from Harvard. He got married in 1969, at a young age of 22.
He started his professional career with BCG (Boston Consultancy Group) and then moved on to Bain Capital, the organization that he helped turn around (and also gave his rivals, tons of ammunition to bore holes through his good will hunting.)
To make a long story short, Romney went from one success to another, and ended up becoming the Governor of Massachusetts, one of the most progressive states in the US.
He is now contesting the US Presidential Elections against US President Barack Obama.
The Subject of this Caricature = Romney – the Gaffe-Vending Machine
Perhaps he has stopped, but I am not sure, because long time habits aren’t very easy to break, and this habit has lasted Romney the entire election season. Romney has damaged his chances of winning the elections by saying stuff that no sane politician ever utters in the public. For instance he made the 47% American Non-Tax-payers remark, which didn’t go down well with many Americans (Obviously, including the 47% that he was talking about.) Romney made another statement about the Middle Class American being defined as someone who earns less than 200,000 USD a year, which obviously implied that he had no idea of what the average American takes home. He also expressed his heart-ache over his dad not being born of Mexican parents (it would’ve given him opportunities that he didn’t get…perhaps.)
I think that if he weren’t so rich, and if he could express himself in a more politically-correct manner, he would win. While he still can win (at the time of making this post, an opinion poll gives Romney a lead of 5 solid points over Obama,) yet there’s now a cloud of doubt that hangs over his victory.
Obama vs. Romney
I rooted for Obama in the last elections. Quite like the Americans who voted him in, I expected him to change things. Perhaps he did change something, but I am yet to understand it. Osama bin Laden was caught and killed. Fine. The auto-industry was saved – much appreciated. The unemployment numbers began to drop, but only very recently. Will they continue to climb, after Obama is re-elected? What I wonder is – whether all this would’ve not happened, had someone else been at the helm of affairs. Oh…another reason, for my rooting for Obama was John McCain – I just could imagine him as the President of the US. He didn’t look presidential enough to this caricaturist.
These elections, I am not sure. If only Romney conducts himself better, if only he doesn’t let religious biases affect political decisions, if only…
I guess I am not sure.
I am just happy that I made at least one caricature of Romney, to tell you that I am not biased 🙂
Keira Knightley debuts on your favorite Caricature blog.
I know that we’ve been waiting for the lady to make an appearance here, for a very long time. I’ve been talking about her caricature for near about three months now. Whenever her appearance was announced here, there would be some last-minute change in her schedule, and we’d go back sulking. But then last-minute changes in schedule are the mark of a true diva…right?
I am glad to announce that I’ve finally found the evasive caricature of Ms. Keira Knightley, the lady whose inability to make her mind up almost cost Captain Jack Sparrow his life.
Presenting Ms. Knightley.
A Short Biography of Keira Knightley
(Thanks to the one and only Wikipedia.)
Keira Knightley was born in London, England, in a family of actors. Quite like many other actors and artists who make it big, Keira too was diagnosed with dyslexia. This obviously isn’t much of a handicap when you are an actor, perhaps this is why at the age of six when it was discovered that she was a dyslexic, she became an actor. She acted in many movies before she got the opportunity to work in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Keira was 14 when she acted in this movie.
In 2001, at the age of 16, she got her first role as a grown up. This was in a movie called Princess of Thieves. She worked in a few other movies but it wasn’t until she acted in Bend it Like Beckham, that she got her big break, and people began to recognize her. Four years later, she played the character of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, and establish herself as more than just a pretty face.
Other more interesting bytes about Keira:
- Keira has appeared in the FHM’s (For Him Magazine of UK) 100 sexiest women of the world (I am not linking to the magazine’s site for obvious reasons.) again and again, and she topped the list in 2006. (I know that most women will find it difficult to believe, but it’s impossible to figure out a man’s mind – isn’t it? And oh, I should also tell you that Rosie Huntington-Whiteley of the panties fame, topped the list for 2011. I can’t stop wondering how Jennifer Lopez (twice, 2000 and 2001) and these two could get to the same spot in the same magazine!! Perhaps, it’s a mark of changing times.)
- She says that she’s got no life outside of acting, which implies that her friends and family can never be sure whether they are talking to the actor or the character.
- She’s NOT an anorexic and she’s got nothing to do with girls who stop eating so that they may look emaciated and thus make it to FHM’s 100 sexiest women of the world, and die in the process.
- She is expected to marry singer James Righton, and the caricaturist hopes that they’ll beat the average marriage longevity among Hollywood couples.
Curiosity is such a b…well, a…lady dog. I checked it out myself and was shocked to learn that Keira’s BMI is 17.23!
A BMI of less than 18.5 means that you are underweight. This site has this advice for Keira:
“You should consult your physician to determine if you should gain weight, as low body mass can decrease your body’s immune system, which could lead to illness such as disappearance of periods (women), bone loss, malnutrition and other conditions. The lower your BMI the greater these risks become.”
Wow! If I were Keira, I’d act pronto. If you know her, stop telling her that she looks great and send her to the Doctor. That poor little rich girl needs help.
Dear Friends of this crazy caricaturist,
My guilty conscience is arm-twisting me into making this post, but then just as what you say when a gun is being held to your temple is always the truth, so is this statement of apology, and the contents therein.
I’ve got those caricatures (Keira Knightley etc.) sketched and ready to be launched remorselessly on my poor unsuspecting visitor, but I haven’t posted them yet. Why? Because this caricaturist isn’t happy being a caricaturist, she wants her caricatures to tell stories. So when she draws this caricature of Robert De Niro or this caricature of Stalin, she isn’t happy. She wants to create something like this caricature of Morgan Freeman or this caricature of Hitler!
Shhhh…listen up. Someone’s whispering bad-somethings about the caricaturist.
Alter-Kreacher: Nasty, nasty caricaturist… with tons of gender-bias! She isn’t bothered about her male visitors at all or she’d also mention this caricature of Pamela Anderson – the only one she’s made that can make a feeble attempt of tickling her male visitor’s fantasies.
Shafali the Caricaturist: Disappear, you snake! Go sink your poisonous fangs somewhere else, or the caricaturist will use an 8B to blacken them out! This caricaturist is completely aware of the viewing needs of her male visitors! She has drawn another caricature that’s bound to make the male visitors do a double-take, though she’d advise caution. Remember the caricature of Sarah Palin?! Now go kill yourself.
Alter-Kreacher: <shuffles away mumbling.>
(I’d like to thank Ms. JK Rowling for creating Kreacher and Warner Brothers for making the movie “Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix“, which I watched yesterday, and which inspired Alter-Kreacher.)
Now that Alter-Kreacher has gotten his much-deserved kick-in-the-butt, let me assure you that Ms. Keira Knightley’s caricature will be here soon, and so will be some others. It’s just that I am usually working on about 10 projects at a time, of which 2 are the food-on-the-table variety, and I end up giving priority to those projects. I know…foolish, foolish me. Did I learn nothing from Van Gogh? His methods couldn’t make him famous and rich when he was alive, but at least they made many others rich and Van Gogh famous, after he died. Wondering what I am talking about? Read, “The 4 Types of Artists – Starving, Dying, Dead, and Rich!”
I’ll return soon…
The Boon of Left-handedness
Left-handedness is a trait that makes you special. Among the right-handers, a left-hander is the center of everyone’s attention. Secretly, every right-handed person wishes for the boon of left-handedness, because it makes one special…in whichever way.
So, if you were born left-handed, rejoice. Because people around you envy the fact that to look different, all you need to do is be yourself. Those right-handers also envy you because you are smarter, more creative, and infinitely more interesting than them, but then this too is something that they’d never confess to you, ever.
The data-squirrels have sacks full of data suggesting that the lefties are:
- Smarter (They’ve got a disproportionately high incidence of lefties among Nobel Prize Winners, Writers, and Painters.)
- Better at sports (Many lefties are fantastic sports persons – perhaps because their left-handedness surprises their opponents.)
- Better Earners (Among the educated, lefties earn more than their right-handed counterparts.)
Yet, the left-handers of the world have been called names. They’ve been called sinister-handed, southpaw, cack/cacky-handed (clumsy) Why? Because every damn thing ever made was made for the right-handed people, and the lefties appeared obviously “clumsy” when they used them. I wish there were a place where everything was made for the left-handed people, and then a few right-handed, “dexterous” people were let loose in it. I’d like to see how they continue to remain dexterous!
Nevertheless, the left-handed people do a good job with these right-handed instruments, because they have better visual sense and the ability to analyze space. I agree that it’s a freaking pain to cut fabric using the scissors manufactured for the “dexterous” majority (and, trust me, it’s a bigger pain trying to find a pair of scissors for the left-handed,) yet the lefties will give you a straighter cut than most of your right-ies.
Some of the lefties are ambidextrous, which means that they are able to use both their hands with equal efficacy (well, according to this link, ambidextrous also means – deceitful and bisexual – do you see how the right-ies try to bring us down at every available opportunity?) The ambidextrous appear magical to the normal, rightly-gifted lot…and magic is more often feared than revered. This makes the ambidextrous lot angry, but there isn’t much they can do about it. So they go into their shells to save themselves from those wide-eyed, crazy looks that they get, and they hide themselves from the world.
The fact that I can draw with both hands at the same time, the fact that I can write in reverse without ever practicing it, could’ve been a normal thing for me; but when I was in seventh grade and stupid enough to demonstrate it in front of my friends, I lost them because their parents thought that I was a witch. And so I kept it hidden, but every once in a while when I get lost in an idea, I start using both my hands to draw it out. Yet the moment I catch myself in the unspeakable act of allowing my sinistrality (note that it isn’t even a proper word) to work together with my dexterity, I stop to look around and check whether anyone’s watching me. Wonder why people don’t give that funny look to themselves when they type with both hands, or when they swim using all their limbs.
I spent a long time worrying about hiding my weird writing and drawing habits, and now I’ve reached a point where I don’t care anymore, especially because these sinister abilities didn’t harm me in any way.
Here’s something for people who worry about their kids being left-handed/mirror-writers.
I survived and I survived well.
Without going into irrelevant details, here are some facts about this woman who masquerades as the caricaturist:
- I’m good at Math and Physics. I studied Engineering and then worked as an engineer.
- I successfully competed in many national entrance exams, and I even topped one of them.
- I can read, write, and speak two languages, and I can learn the script of any language almost overnight.
- I can draw better than many and I am not clumsy at all (but don’t put me behind the steering wheel or I’ll drive you right into the oncoming traffic).
- I can’t understand or appreciate music at all, nor can I recognize voices beyond those of my family members. (I don’t really miss it.)
- I wad probably born left-handed, but I learned to write and eat with my right hand. (Not bad. Righties may try doing the opposite and see how easy it is.)
- I am less practical than about 90% of the human race. (That’s what makes me an artist :-))
- I am straight. (not a great loss, I think. Read this.)
Do you see?
If you are a lefty or a parent of a lefty, there’s no reason for you to worry. You (or your child) are gifted.
Before I end this post, here’s a quote that I read on a t-shirt (and so I don’t know who wrote it, but whoever did – thanks. I also found a link with many more quotes about left-handedness and added it here.)
“”Everyone is born right-handed…but only the greatest overcome it.“
and yes, there’s a World Left-Hander Day. It’s August 13th (and no, it’s not a Friday.)
With Katie Holmes leaving Tom Cruise, we’ll once again have a 50-year old eligible bachelor looking for a wife who’d stick to him no matter what.
The caricaturist has found the right bride for Tom Cruise – one who’d never leave him especially because he wants to follow his religion. She won’t be mad because he’d want their kids to follow Scientology.
Tom Cruise, the Hollywood actor who has successfully completed four Impossible Missions has recently been handed the divorce papers by his most recent wife’s attorney. Tom’s been trying very hard to stay married. His first marriage to Mimi Rogers who was 7 years his senior, lasted about two years. He then married the nose of Hollywood, Nicole Kidman, stayed married for 10 long years, then they got separated in 2001. In 2006 he married Katie Holmes, who’s now asking for a divorce.
The reason that Katie’s lawyer wants to cite as grounds for divorce, drove me to draw this caricature. Believe it or not, Katie wants a divorce because Tom Cruise is a very religious man, and he wants to instil the same neat values in their daughter Suri. He wants Katie to join the Church of Scientology so that she may grow up to become a hardcore scientologist. Shame on you, Katie! In this crazy world of today, you are a lucky woman to have found a religious thetan-fearing husband. Well, Holmes doesn’t want her daughter to grow up with the right scientological values.On the other hand, Tom Cruise, a strict follower of his religion, is unable to come to terms with the fact that most people in this world don’t even consider his religion a proper religion. He’s constantly trying to communicate with his thetans!
Tom Cruise’s Problem – A Serious Analysis
Ron Hubbard, the pulp fiction writer who started the Scientology religion, says that millions of years ago, a guy called Xenu (who perhaps was the President of a Galactic federation made of many planets) faced the same problem that humans are facing today – the problem of overpopulation. He decided that the best way to get rid of the extra people was to blow them up and send their spirits to earth. These alien spirits are called Thetans and they are responsible for all human miseries, including the ones that Tom is currently experiencing. I am sure that Tom has done everything in his capacity to ensure that his Thetans don’t bother him, yet…he’s not tried the one thing that could bring happiness and peace to everyone.
Tom must marry an alien from the same Galactic Federation. His Thetans will then develop the right sort of connection with the bride’s Thetan, and all Thetans will then live happily ever after!
BTW, it was Mimi Rogers, his least permanent wife, who had introduced Tom to Scientology. She however decided that Scientology wasn’t her cup of tea and stopped following it. Smart girl.