How To Draw Caricatures: Interview With Caricature Artist Calven Chong

What is drawing humorous pictures of people for a living, like? According to 31-year-old Calven Chong, a caricaturist and comic illustrator, to be able to draw accurate caricatures of people, is a lot harder than it might seem.

Caricaturist Calven Chong.

Caricaturist Calven Chong

I recently interviewed Calven to talk about caricature drawing and got some tips on drawing these, from him. Here is what Calven said. 

When did you take up caricature drawing and why?

The 1st caricature drawing I did was around 2009.

My previous company was doing a road show then, and I was having fun with my ex-colleagues and drawing all their faces on a balloon. When my friends saw these balloon caricatures, they told me that I could do some caricature drawings for other events.

From then on, I started doing such drawings.

A drawing of a family portrait with their dog, by Calven Chong.

A drawing of a family portrait with their dog, by Calven Chong.

What types of caricatures do you specialise in?

I do more comic drawings. I used to draw my friends – to have fun with them, especially during birthdays or on other special days. After that, some publishers asked me to do drawings for comics and children’s books.

How did you train to be a caricature artist?

I’m not trained to be a caricaturist. When I studied art in college, I liked to do portrait drawings and I didn’t even know what caricatures were then. A few years ago I started to do comic drawings and also learnt about caricatures.

Who have you done caricatures for?

These have mainly been for organisations, companies and schools. Examples have included a Fairfield Methodist Primary School anniversary, a Singapore Airlines sport club birthday event, a Sentosa Boardwalk outdoor bazaar and a Southern University College anniversary event in Malaysia

Calven also draws caricatures on balloons.

Calven also draws caricatures on balloons.

What makes you enjoy drawing caricatures?

A caricaturist’s job is very interesting and full of fun. When people receive your artwork and they feel happy and laugh about it, I feel happy too.

What are some of the biggest challenges in drawing caricatures?

A drawing needs to be not only like the person but it must have the person’s main facial feature. So the biggest challenge is to quickly and correctly catch the main feature of the person. If you draw the wrong facial feature, the drawing may not look like the person at all. This is different to portrait drawing – which is done in a free and easy style, without needing to catch the person’s main feature.

What are some of your most memorable moments as a caricature artist?

One day, I was drawing caricatures of children at a birthday party, when I ran out of paper. So I decided not to continue. But there were a lot of kids waiting for my drawings. When I told them I had run out of paper, they all took out balloons and paper plates and asked me draw on these instead. So I continued – and this occasion has stuck in my mind, because the kids were so happy to see my drawings.

Live caricatures in action.

Live caricatures in action.

What are some common misconceptions about caricature artists?

They think caricature drawing is just about enlarging a portrait expression but caricaturists need to focus specifically on the face feature.

Can you share some tips in selecting a good caricaturist to do a drawing?

A good caricaturist not only needs to pick up a customer’s main facial feature and draw it (with a similar likeness) in a short time, but he or she also needs to make fun with the customer when doing a live caricature drawing. This is because a lot of other people like to stand behind the caricaturist and look at how the live caricature is being done – so a lively atmosphere is important.

And how do you draw a good caricature of someone? Can you share some tips?

This is very subjective, but I can share my opinion. If you are drawing an attractive caricature for the customer, you must try to capture the expression there – whether it is warm, funny or even an exaggerated one.

What are your rates like for your drawings?

My rates are about $150 per hour (for first hour) and $100 per subsequent hour, for live caricatures.

For more details on Calven Chong and his drawings, check out his website.

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