Seeing the good


I have a confession to make. Over the years, I’ve developed the habit of over-simplifying and making snap judgments about people. I know that probably makes me sound like a superficial jerk or something, but hold up. It’s actually a beneficial skill to have as a caricature artist, and as a human.

First Impressions

I recently read that it only takes about 3 seconds to form an opinion about someone, and once that opinion is formed, it’s nearly impossible to completely undo. (No pressure, right?) When I read that, I realized that it’s not just caricature artists who are constantly judging people based on their looks. We all do it. (Yes, that means even you, superficial jerk) Can you please stop judging me now?

But why do we do it? The simplest answer is: We are hardwired as a species to think that way. It’s just how it is, so you can finally stop feeling bad about having an awesome skill that’s necessary for your survival. There. Feel better now? Good.

As a side note: I’m not a psychologist or a scientist, I just play them both on TV. (Are you impressed yet?)

Now aside from the survival benefits associated with being able to make accurate quick judgments about people, it also helps out tremendously as a caricature artist and with practice, we can actually get better at it.

When I have a person sitting in front of me, and I only have a handful of minutes to draw their face, you think I’m not judging them? You bet your sweet face I am.

I have to be able to translate what I’m seeing into a few quick lines that capture their face on paper, and do it as quickly (and uniquely) as possible. It’s a skill that takes years and years of practice to get good at so be nice. (I’m still practicing)

Tip: One way to improve your likeness is by taking pictures of people holding their caricatures. This will allow you to be able to go back and compare your drawing to their face later. Find out what worked and what you could improve on. Look for patterns in your drawing that might be holding you back. Challenge yourself to do a little better each time. Remember that progress is sometimes slow, so keep trying.

Let’s get real

Some faces are just easier to caricature than others (for obvious reasons) but it’s still extremely difficult to nail the likeness of every person you draw no matter how experienced you are.

So why is that? Well there are probably a hundred different reasons, but in my experience it comes down to these major factors:

  1. Fear of rejection from an unhappy customer
  2. Playing it safe and not taking risks
  3. Relying on muscle memory and general artistic laziness
  4. Time constraints of the job

As a caricature artists who has worked in a live-setting for over 10 years, I can tell you that typically I find myself under a lot of pressure from both internal and external forces. Keeping the general public (and myself) happy and entertained can sometimes be a tough gig.

Think about it

There aren’t very many people in the world who actually want to be made fun, yet most people are at least mildly curious to see what their caricature looks like.

That doesn’t make much sense, right? If you think about it, don’t those two things seem diametrically opposed to each another? If you answered yes, you are right. Welcome to the great dilemma of the caricature artist.

I gave up a long time ago worrying about what other artists thought of me. I decided instead to always err on the side of flattery in my drawings and it has served me pretty well. Does that make me a sell-out? Probably. Are my customers happy? Usually. Are my caricatures generic cookie-cutters? Not at all, and here’s why: I always try to customize each drawing and capture the essence of that person. So what’s wrong with doing that in a flattering way? Photographer’s do it all the time with their art, so why can’t a caricature artist?

For me, a happy customer is what’s most important. After all, they are supporting me as an artist by paying me to create artwork because they like my style. I appreciate that so much and I try to give them something we can both be happy with. Ultimately, I always want it to look like them. This means I need to know how to choose the best angles and pick the right details to accentuate. It also means I should be customizing my approach slightly for each face I’m drawing and not let myself get lazy. I don’t always succeed, but I’m always trying.

See what I’m saying

I read a quote recently that said “What we see depends mainly on what we look for“. I’ve been thinking about that all day and I love it.

I do believe we can control what we see in others, and we can also choose to process that information any way we want with enough practice. Look for the good in others and you will see more good in yourself.


Seeing the good

Friday Friend Day


Drawing of me (Jeremy Drysdale) by Laurel Hawkswell

I used to have a tradition of giving a shout-out to another artist every Friday on my Facebook page, but somehow that fizzled out last year so I thought that maybe this blog would be a good place to start the tradition up again. I’m glad you agree.

I recently attended a caricature convention in Ohio for ISCA (International Society of Caricature Artists), and when I was there I had the privilege of having my caricature drawn by the lovely and talented artist Laurel Hawkswell who lives and works in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Laurel is not only super cool (and friendly), she also has a great style and does an excellent job of getting a likeness. I love the drawing she did for me. She also does commission work if you would like to have one done of yourself or a friend. Reach out and let her know you have some crisp U.S. Dollars you want to send her way!

Her email address is:

You can also see more of her drawings and LIKE her Facebook page by clicking here: (

Friday Friend Day

Face Time.



My approach to drawing live caricatures is to give each person the highest quality drawing, in the least amount of time. To achieve this goal, I found that I really need to have a routine I follow.


Any views or opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the caricature industry or the International Society of Caricature Artist (ISCA).

What that means is: I don’t claim to have the best method, this is just what works for me, so please, proceed with caution! 🙂

Alright, so now that we have that out of the way, there are basically 4 steps to my process when drawing a face:

Step 1

I almost always begin by doing a quick under-sketch in pencil. This step takes about 15 seconds, but it’s totally worth the time spent if it means I have a more polished drawing when it’s finished.

In this beginning phase, I’m not worried about details, I’m simply looking at the structure of the face and then putting that down on paper. I use the large masses of the face as “guidelines” that I can work from in the next phase. Since I’m just looking at the structure of the face, it’s much easier for me pinpoint where I want to exaggerate while it’s still very early-on in the process.

After a few months of forcing myself to draw this way, I found that I started to be able to see where I should exaggerate much faster and my likenesses also began to get stronger.

Tip: The pencil sketch can also be used to make a few “key” observations about the subject’s likeness, personality and facial expressions.

For example, let’s say that a guy has a grin that goes up a little higher on one side, but only when he holds a smile. You can make a quick note of that by simply penciling in a few lines to show what his smile looks like when he grins that way. Don’t draw it the way you would with pen, just get the general idea down quickly and then move on.

You might also notice something he does with his eyebrows that looks interesting, and you can sketch a few lines to show how the eyebrows move when he makes that expression. People’s expressions tend to change quite often as they are sitting for their picture, so using this trick will help you to remember what their smile looked like even when they aren’t smiling.

Time is money

Remember to sketch just the structure and a few key observations about the likeness and then move on to the next phase. Don’t get hung-up on too many details early on or it will slow you down and your drawings wont look as fresh or spontaneous as they should.

Step 2

Now I’m ready to grab my pen and look a little more closely at the details of the face. I always start with the eyes because I want to make sure I have the spacing and the angle right. If the relationship of their eyes is off, it’s almost impossible to salvage the drawing later.

Next I move on to the nose, then the smile, and finally the outline of the face and hair. During the “inking” phase, I use my under-sketch as a guideline but I’m not 100% committed to it. Sometimes our initial observations are a little off and need to be adjusted. The under-sketch is there to help me out but only if I need it. The pen lines are what really matter, since they are all that is left when I erase the pencil, so I try to concentrate on making each line as perfect as I can.

I’m constantly thinking about how I can use my lines to capture the essence of the person sitting in front of me, while also making the drawing as visually pleasing as possible. It’s something I’m always trying to improve upon. I’m discovering that it takes a life-time of practice to really master.

Tip: Smiling is contagious – When you want your subject to smile for you, start smiling yourself. Make sure it’s natural and you will find that most people
will begin smiling back at you simply because you are smiling.

I’ve found that this method works much easier than telling the person it’s time to smile.
It can also be entertaining for them because they are wondering what the heck you are smiling about. (Don’t be creepy.)

Remember your lines

Practice your line work as often as you can, and experiment with different line-weight (thick & thin lines). This is key to making your drawings look more dynamic.

Step 3

Now I erase the under-sketch (pencil lines) which takes about 5 seconds. I prefer to use a kneaded-eraser because it really picks up the pencil easily and doesn’t leave any “eraser mess”. It also doesn’t wear down the paper like traditional erasers do.

Step 4

Lastly, I add some shading. I started using shading in my drawings a few years ago because I felt like I need something to help take my drawings from a flat 2-Dimensional feel to more of a 3-Dimensional one. I think it adds a nice touch and really helps the drawings to come alive.

If you want to know more about my method, feel free to reach out to me and I’m happy to help if I can.

If you’re an artist: Hopefully something I shared in this post will help you out.

If you’re not an artist: Now you know more about what’s going on inside an artist’s head when they’re drawing at an event. (We really are crazy)

I read a quote recently that said “Don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong”. I’ve been thinking about that today and I love it.

If you want to be great at something, concentrate on it all the time. Stay focused on it until you feel you have mastered it, but then keep going. Always try to be a little bit better than you were yesterday and in time your abilities will increase exponentially.


Face Time.

Talk about Awesome!!!


Being a caricature artist really is a pretty interesting gig. I get to meet people from all over the world who travel to Arizona for meetings and conventions. One of my favorite parts about this job isn’t really the drawing, although that is part of the fun. It’s really the interactions I get to have with people as they sit for me to draw them. (I know, weird right?)

It’s fascinating for me to get to learn about other people and find out what makes them tick. I look at it as an opportunity to have conversations with a wide demographic of people about any topic I want to know about, from what line of work they’re in, to what they think about what’s going on around the world. I have learned so much about people over the years and I am so grateful for the wisdom and knowledge people have shared with me.

Keeping it real

There’s no way that every conversation I have with someone is going to be awesome or even remotely interesting. Some people just don’t enjoy talking, and other people are literally freaked out that I’m sitting there studying their face as I’m talking to them. To those people, I say: Remember… you asked for this. (And then I let out an evil laugh)

In this line of work, things can get pretty repetitive so sometimes I try and find ways to keep the conversation interesting by listening to people’s conversation around me as I’m drawing, and then find a way to work that into the conversation. It’s a great way to pull people in and get a whole group of people invested in the drawings I’m doing of their coworkers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been drawing at a corporate event and someone will say something that gives me a small insight into the person I’m drawing. These are like little gems if you can find a way to work them into your drawing somehow. Coworkers love giving each other a hard time and are usually not very shy about revealing each other’s quirks and insecurities. Take it and run with it my friend.

And then other times, it’s a pretty slow event, and the energy just isn’t in the room, and I honestly don’t feel like I have the mental energy to entertain everyone and draw every person’s face while holding a super deep intellectual conversation with them.


Put it on repeat

On nights like this, the conversation usually goes something like:

Me: “Hey there! I’m Jeremy. What’s your name and where are you from?”

Them: “Hi Jeremy, nice to meet you (insert: awkward handshake) Where am I from originally, or where do I live now?”

Me: “Yes. All of the above 🙂 ”

Them: “Well I was born in (_______), then we moved to (______) when I was (___) years old. Then I moved away and went away to college at (______). Now I live in (______). How about you? Where are you from?

Me: “Right here in Arizona all my life.”

Them: “Reeeeeeeeeallllly? Wow. That’s rare. I haven’t met many people who are from Arizona”.

Me: “I like to think I’m one of a kind.” (insert: stupid grin)

Them: “So how did you get into doing caricatures?”

Me: “My dad was a caricature artist so I was always around it growing up”

And that’s pretty much how it goes, over and over and over again…

But every now and then, I get that special person and we just seem to hit it off immediately and it’s really an amazing experience. (And then they’re gone)

Let’s be friends

I like to joke around and say that I’m really good at making friends, for about 5 minutes. But then they’re gone, and usually never to be seen or heard from again. (That’s one reason I like to take pictures of people holding their drawings. It’s fun to see their faces again and remember our conversations.) But the main reason is because I really want to see how badly I sucked at drawing that night, and hopefully I got a good sample or two that I can post on Social Media. (Thanks for the memories!)

I once heard a quote that stuck with me. It said, “It’s more important to be interested than it is to be interesting“. I’ve been thinking about that all day, and I love it.

Go have amazing conversations with people you’ve never met before and try to be genuinely interested in them. Notice how it changes the dynamic of your conversation for the better.

And if I’ve drawn you before (and you remember our conversation) I would love to hear from you. Feel free to reach out to me by email or leave a nice comment.


(Please see my previous post to read about my glamorous journey as a caricature artist)




Talk about Awesome!!!

How do you become a Caricature Artist?


About me

I often get asked, “How did you get into doing Caricatures?” Well, the easiest answer is, “My father is a Caricature Artist.” When I say that, people almost inevitably say, “Oh… That’s it then. You got it from him.” Well, I believe there is some truth to that, but it’s not so cut and dry as it sounds. It’s not like I just woke up one day and suddenly I could draw caricatures because my Dad could.

Growing up with a father who was a full-time Caricature Artist was certainly interesting and never without an adventure… I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity of watching him work at fairs and different retail spots around the country. Those experiences provided a good foundation from which to build my own career as an artist.

My first experience with drawing caricatures was when I was 14 years old. We were living in Wisconsin Dells for the Summer because my Dad had a good spot there. One day he challenged me to go into a restaurant close by and try drawing people for tips. I decided to give it a shot and somehow ended up making $70 in just a few hours. People must have felt bad for me. It was pretty exciting to make all of that money, but deep down inside I knew my drawings were terrible. I had no idea how to draw caricatures so I decided I would just stick with drawings other things for a while. As I got older, I got a little better at drawing and people started telling me I should do caricatures like my dad. I decided that maybe I should give it another shot and see how it goes.

The Adventure Begins

I began doing retail caricatures back in 2005 sitting in the lobby of a busy restaurant in downtown Phoenix (The Old Spaghetti Factory) Working in a retail environment forced me to get out of my shell and learn how to talk to people as I drew them. It also allowed me the opportunity to develop my own style while making good money. Eventually I branched out into the corporate world and started working with a variety of different party & event planners.

In 2011 I started my own business, Phoenix Caricature Company, with the goal of providing top quality artists for parties and events. That same year I also began pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design from The Art Institute. I graduated from the Art Institute of Phoenix in 2014.

I also joined the International Society of Caricature Artists (ISCA) in 2014 and attended my first convention in Reno, Nevada. I had a great time and met some amazing artists that not only inspired me to do better, but also motivated me to do more with my art and my business.

But wait, there’s more…

That all sounds pretty sweet ride, right? Well I can assure you it wasn’t. Not at all. I failed to mention all of the times when I worked an 8 hour day at my regular job, and then spent the evening sitting in a crowded lobby full of people who couldn’t care less about getting their caricature drawn. It was pretty discouraging.

I always thought I was pretty good at drawing when I was a kid. Drawing actually came easy to me, so none of this made any sense. Why weren’t people jumping at the chance to have me draw them? I started thinking to myself, “I must be terrible at drawing”. And with that, my self-esteem really began to take a nose dive. I’m not kidding when I say that I couldn’t even get people to come over and get their face drawn, for free! That’s when I knew it wasn’t enough just to be good at drawing things, I needed to learn how to draw caricatures  if I wanted to start making good money.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery?

I began searching for books on how to draw caricatures. I watched videos on YouTube and tried to get inside the head of the artist and see how their minds worked. I picked up a few tips and tricks that helped, and slowly over time I saw that my work was starting to look better. I also searched for artists who had a really amazing style, like Tom Richmond. I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes I just flat-out copied his drawings to practice. I wanted my drawings to look nice and polished like his. I would spend hours studying the lines and then try to draw them exactly like he did. The only problem is, when I was drawing someone who was sitting right in front of me, it never looked as good as the ones I had practiced. I knew something was still missing. Then one day I discovered that Tom had written a book called “The MAD Art of Caricature” so I ordered a copy and it honestly changed my life. It actually taught me how to start thinking like a caricature artist. This is when everything changed for me.

Slowly but Surely

It was still an uphill battle for many years, and really didn’t pay that well, but I was seeing progress in my drawings so I knew I was getting better. Some nights I barely made enough to pay for my gas and get something to eat. Most nights, I only made $50 or $60. Still not great money but the value was in the lessons I was learning. I guess what I’m saying is, it isn’t as fun and exciting as it might look. It takes a lot of hard work, determination, good attitude, thick skin, and maybe even a little bit of talent. Maybe it’s easier for people who have just loads of natural talent, but for me it’s been a tough road.

I’m at a point now where I really enjoy drawing caricatures and love interacting with people at parties and events. The money comes much easier now, but I’ve worked really hard for it. If you’re an aspiring caricature artist and you’re reading this, just know that it won’t be easy, but the journey will really push you to grow as an artist if you are honest about your work and always try to remain positive but objective. You won’t get better by being easy on yourself. Push yourself until YOU are happy with your work, and then keep pushing. Try something new and notice how your perspective begins to change gradually over time. I’d love to hear about your experiences. Feel free to email me or leave a nice comment if you would like.

I recently read a quote from the late/great Orson Wells where he said, “The Enemy of Art is the Absence of Limitations“. I’ve been pondering that all day, and I love it.

Go create more good in the world.

Jeremy Drysdale

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How do you become a Caricature Artist?