Caricatures and Their Beginnings


Caricature, the word, comes from Italian (circa 18th century), and it means a pictorial, written or acted representation of a person which exaggerates characteristics or traits for comic effect.
The word is derived from the Italian ‘ caricatura’ or distortion, which itself comes from ‘caricare’ to load or exaggerate.

The word we commonly use to describe such an image is CARTOON, which itself is, yes you guessed it..Italian. The original use was to describe an initial image that an artist would create before actually painting the intended picture or portrait. The word is ancient, having been used exstensively by no less a person than Leonardo da Vinci (whose name we all know now for completely different literary and filmic reasons), he would create ‘cartoons’ of all his intended work as a way of planning what the finished article would look like and also how best to create it, what paints or colours to use etc.

So interestingly, Walt Disney and Matt Groenig of Mickey Mouse and Homer Simpson fame, owe much to Leonardo da Vinci and his use of this technique in ‘high Art’. All cartoons are rooted in this past history.

In some cases, modern cartoon work could easily be described as ‘high Art’ because of their wonderful use of this art form and the use of often cutting wit and observation. corporate caricaturist and cartoons have been used over the centuries to display radical satire and wit, especially when aimed at political figures. Sometimes in fact, caricature is the only way people can honestly describe their feelings without being locked up for doing so. The caricature is a powerful and cathartic tool of expression as is all other art.

Caricatures nowadays then, are no less an Art Form than they were in the past.
Some artists, like myself are not actually considered artists because they create cartoons or caricatures, but if it was good enough for Leonardo…then I think it is good enough for me!! Or anybody else for that matter…

In my work, I try to create an amusing image of the person for whom the ‘caricature’ is intended, using exactly the interpretation of the words above. I exaggerate and distort and I inject some personal traits that I/we, trust the intended will enjoy and laugh at. Because if you cannot laugh at yourself and your own foolishness, you have no right to laugh at anybody else.

At the same time, I will use techniques and skills learned and honed over time to visually express my interpretation. The use of high quality paints or inks is vital, for vibrant and enduring colur as is the use of high quality paper.

So what the person gets, the one who receives the image is a real piece of Art, worthy of much more than we usually give cartoons. It is also, and this is important and needs special mention, completely original and as the website name suggests….a ONE OFF.

It can never be compared to anything else because all pieces of original art are completely individual and different from all others. Totally unique, just like the intended recipient of the work.

My work in this field receives my special attention each time I work and I will only send out something I, as the artist, am totally satisfied with.

NO computer generated colours or enhancement are used,
This sadly is the case with a lot of caricatures currently available, with many people pretending to do authentic caricatures, they are not true caricatures and they end up looking bland and visually flat as a result.
Leonardo would say something very negative I am sure.


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