Friday, December 29, 2017

“Look like” is an interesting couple of words. Every caricature artist knows that a caricature has to look like the people, but more and more, these days I’m getting a sense of some customers and passers by having a different conception of “look like” than I do. Just yesterday a coworker of mine was doing a really fun great caricature which was really funny and had a great likeness and there was this lady who saw it and really laughed and enjoyed it and was just really taken by it. I mean to say it was a very positive caricature response and one of the things she said was that it doesn't look like them or something very much along those lines and very emphatic. But we look at it as a total failure if the drawing doesn't look like the subject, particularly to us, and we also hope the customer or family or friends will see the likeness. But could some customers conceive of likeness differently? So in this scenario the drawing manages to be funny (and I would say) as it relates to the subject (to give the scenario the full benefit of the doubt) but it doesn't look like them, so the only way it can be funny is for it to look like them according to our definition and then the “doesn't look like them” of their definition speaks to all the distortions and exaggerations, and which is which doesn't matter to them, because the point is that the drawing of these people is genuinely funny in its relationship to the subject and “doesn't look like them.” and that’s in their words. I think it is an odd way of looking at it, but I can make sense of it if I imagine a view of likeness where likeness and humor are thought to be mutually exclusive--or truth and humor. It’s not so far fetched. It runs contrary to the “it’s funny because it’s true” mantra, though, but surely that phrase only exists because at one point it really meant something and went against common knowledge. Maybe all I’m really saying is that the concept of  “it’s funny because it’s true” which is such a given in the circles that I run, may not have been canonized just yet by all of human society ala gravity.

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