The Caricature Artist

It has come to my attention that I have become a caricature of myself. I have always had a subtle inclination about this truth but recently this has become all to apparent. I know that being a caricature of ones self is all the rage these days. Every one does it. It’s constantly sold on television and has become a pre-requisite towards being a member of society and holding down a decent job. I may not have to wear a tangible, material uniform but my caricature is enough of a disguise. It covers the real me like a blanket and rarely allows my authentic self to shine through. However, I have been a caricature of myself for so long that I am not even sure I would recognize my authentic self if I passed by it on the street. It would not be incorrect to suggest that I have made this caricature of myself slightly resemble who I think that I may be. This is where the creativity comes into play- molding oneself into a mere image of who they really are.

Usually this image is a grotesque or compromised expression of our “truer” self. Certainly the man that I see at work or in the mirror when I am getting dressed does not bare much resemblance to the man whom I often feel like I am. In fact the two could not be further apart. There is a feeling of estrangement that I get when I catch an image of myself in a passing window or upon a video screen. When I dress in a suit or am not sure how to dress at all, I feel lost in the cult of myself- and am clueless about this thing or idea I often heard talked about- “authentic being.”

For many years I took pride in my work as a caricature artist. I had different hair styles every month and wore clothes that I felt expressed a particular mood that I was in. My facial expressions and body language supported this mood and I went through my day comfortably numb to the fact that I was only being a caricature of me. Now, I have begun to become more frustrated with the caricatures that I create. I do not know if this dissatisfaction is because I am becoming older and look less hip in a certain style of dress or if because I have become so condition by the the society in which I live that I have simply lost who I really may be. Or maybe I have grown into an apathetic thirty something year old man. I have been fighting the forces of Pavlovian conditioning for so long, and my failure to bring forth a tangible victory has caused me to resign myself to other, more secure ways of being. I realize that this is a bleak perspective- but there is a reason why caricature artists are some of the most unfulfilled and melancholic people alive.

Recently I have been so baffled by who I am that I have decided to be nobody at all. I have resigned myself to my work as an inner city high school teacher, stuck the paint brushes and canvas’s back into storage and signed up for evening classes at a local college where I disdainfully intend to get a Teaching Credential. None of this is like the caricature that I have worked so hard to create for the past three decades. I went through such inspired stages of being Punk Rock, Gothic, GQ/Intellectual, and then a mid life crisis Rock Star stage. My caricatures were well designed fabrications and enjoyable to look at. I fooled myself and others that the appearance I wore was really me and I seemed to be fine with this illusion until I realized that I wanted to be somebody else other than me. Now, I no longer look in the mirror when I dress- other than maybe a quick peak to see if I got every thing right. I have no intention towards the caricature that I want to create because I am less concerned with who I am trying to be. What happens after so many years of trying to discover who you really are is that you become the person that you least wanted to be.

But if I was not a dreamer I would not be a writer. Recently in my dreams images of myself appear that seem to be more cohesive and calm. In my dreams I am an older man who seems to be less concerned with his own caricature and more preoccupied with the work he is doing or the life he is living. The two (work and life) are no longer separate and at war. He is happy with things the way that they are. His apathy has become a form of security and he does not care that the sky is falling or that the human species is self destructing. He is no longer pre-occupied with saving humanity from herself or making great art that will influence generations of painters. He is simply himself. Unconcerned and comfortable. I am horrified by this premonition of a future me- but at the same time I am some what relieved by the fact that he is not a caricature of a self that he is pretending to be. Being a caricature artist demands a lot from a person. It is a daily, hourly job requiring that the individual becomes a martyr to his or her own needs. Somehow, the absence or acceptance of this martyrdom gives me something to look forward to.

For now my dream is me and I am still figuring out who the hell I want to be. I would be lying if I said I draw caricatures no more. I am drawing caricatures every day. I live in a world where I am surrounded by nothing but caricatures. It is a zooropa of caricatures. I have recently noticed that I am pre-occupied with finding the perfect caricature. One that will become my masterpiece. This particular caricature will be my final work- a testament to a life well lived. Every day I am searching my soul for this particular caricature and I am trying to make it fit. There is a great deal of resistance from the part of me that wants to be free and unseen- but it is only a matter of time before this side of me will withdraw and remit. I often wonder if this masterpiece is the man, the future image of me, who often haunts my dreams. His apathy fills me up with dread but his calm security entices me with its peace of mind. I have started to draw this image in the way I wear my pants or hold my posture. Line by line, I am noticing how I am slowly morphing into a subtle image of this man. The lines that I now draw seem straighter, almost rigid- less filled with the abstract ambiguities of time a space. It is only a matter of time before I see if this man shall become me, but for now- I am still hard at work creating caricatures of who I want to be.


  1. Very happy to have come across your Caricature Artist blog (strangely enough, I was searching for jobs via Craig’s List, and one of the posts under (Community)-Artists- linked me to your blog. The Caricature Artist, in some respects, reminds me of a funhouse-mirror-reflected sibling of the Hunger Artist (the “poor” soul reaching-striving-starving & unappeasably hungry), and imagine all these facets of artists-at-work within us, fashioning a gallery of masks (inner Mardi Gras, 24-7, no?). In that respect the wonder & fascination of it all is enough to keep one “on the move” (whether with pen, brush, shadowplay, etc). Anyway, this blog had a coolly resigned tone which struck a chord with me, or, maybe you, or your dream-self, channeled some of that “benign indifference” Camus waxes about in the closing lines of “The Stranger.” Thanks for writing, keep pickaxeing at it, my friend. Cheers!

    John Biscello

  2. so just the other day, me and the caricature got into an argument, I suspect he is running a sly under cover operation to get me to believe that the real me is a notion in the head. heavy words flew, one liners and philosophical quotes and even ended in a fist fight. Well, in the end it kinda got sappy.

    1. Not sure how I got to your blog.

      I think your reflections are clear and they resonate with me. I am not you but I am aware of and dissatisfied with this same thing.

      I think you are ‘ahead of the game’ (ironically). Unless you live on the top of a mountain away from societies I don’t think it can be avoided. Maybe one day I will be free of the game, or content that it is it, and I am me. Simply an observer without judgement, without letting it affect me. Maybe that is how your image of yourself as an older man feels.

      Maybe I don’t have as mature a grasp on this as you. Maybe I’ve missed the point. I think expressing yourself through your dress or any other form is not the caricature, that is superficial, and anyone who doesn’t interact with you on a deeper level deserves to be fooled. I think if your truer self comes through in your choices, actions, and words then you are being yourself. I often dress contrary to who I am simply for amusement. And I admit it does confuse some people who don’t know me, or don’t bother to look past that. I’m not sure that is a good thing. But you can’t be friends with everyone.

      You sound artistic. I’m not sure having a life devoid of expressing yourself, and devoid of soul searching is positive, or possible. I feel maybe I’ve gone off on a tangent now. Apologies if I’ve assumed incorrectly.

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