Artist Interview: How does the artist SEE your face?

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing the very talented Joanne Brooker from The Brooker Studio. I was also lucky enough to have her create a caricature of me. From the little devils in my curly hair to the shape of my nose and chin, Joanne’s understanding of how we see faces provided me with a brilliant caricature.

So let’s learn some more about Joanne Brooker and her wonderful creations. 

When did you decide to quit your day job and pursue caricature as a full-time profession?

My day job WAS caricature. I worked for ten years as an editorial illustrator for News Ltd. I created artwork for every section of the newspaper from sports, news, business to book reviews and features. I was required to create artwork in a wide variety of styles including realistic, symbolic, cartoon and a LOT of caricature. I specialised in political and sports caricature. I had the pleasure of having my artwork  printed in thousands of newspapers and delivered all over Australia every day.

Can you tell me more about the pure form of portraiture? Something that people may not know?

Caricature is a “pure” form of portraiture. Caricature is about face recognition. We all describe people by the areas of the face that stands out to us…a big smile, long nose, curly hair etc. This is how we recognise people unconsciously.

Caricature is about first understanding that this is how we SEE faces. When this is interpreted into artwork the person is MORE recognisable than in a photo! Our laugh or surprise when we see a caricature is the moment of sudden recognition. It is a very powerful art form

Caricature of me_crop

Caricature of Vacen Taylor by Joanne Brooker

.Has there ever been anyone you found really difficult to bring to life in a caricature?

The only people that are difficult to caricature are those without a lot of information to their faces. This tends to be the very young or people considered beautiful. They are “beautiful” because their faces are symmetrical. I have drawn thousands of people all over the world and “ beautiful “ is actually very common. Give me a face with character lines, a fabulous smile or sparkling eyes ( or even a broken, scarred “ugly” face) and I will give you a great caricature.  

 Before you begin a caricature do you like to know a little about the person? If so, how does this help you create their caricature?

A good caricature should be making a statement about the person, not just a likeness. This is why political caricature is so enjoyable. I had a great time drawing caricatures for the newspaper of Pauline Hanson and John Howard!

 Can you, or rather, would you be willing to tell me which caricature is your favourite?

I drew many caricatures of John Howard over the years and finally had an opportunity to meet him. To his credit he was not offended, laughed and signed the artwork. I am also fond of a caricature I painted of several Australian politicians dressed as the Spice Girls. It won a People Choice award in Canberra.

spicepol sml

A lot of emerging artists are always looking for different ways to sell their work. How do you like to sell your work?

The internet and social media.  I have worked in this way all over the world with clients from many countries. It makes no difference if I am on the other side of the world or in the next room…with the internet the world is your client.

 It is vital to keep up with new innovations in selling artwork as the traditional methods are now mostly redundant. At the moment the illustration world is in a state of flux  and it is very difficult to find paying work as an artist. I believe that there will be resurgence in art that will be created and sold using new technology. BE READY!

 Do you treat your art as a business or a passion? Do you embrace the idea of “passive income”, being the method of creating something once and then getting paid for it thousands of times. Is this possible with caricature?

My art has always been my business and fortunately my passion as well.

Caricature is generally commissioned work so is paid for by the client one time… Print work is paid by copyright use so it may be used and paid for several times.

I prefer to be paid a thousand dollars once than a dollar thousands of times!

 Do you embrace any other creative forms other than caricature either for pleasure or future projects?

I have just discovered the pleasures of writing and illustrating my own Children’s Picture books! So far I have four that I am now submitting to various publishers. I am lucky to have the support and advice of some wonderful book illustrators. We have created the Brisbane Illustrators Group (BIG) where we meet once a month to share our experiences. I will continue to create books for the rest of my life and maybe even ONE DAY…have one published!

I am also an oil painter presently working on a series of portraits. These works tend to be far more aggressive and dramatic than my illustration work. I like to challenge myself with new art media all the time.

 Lastly, it’s great to be your own boss, but as a writer myself, I know it’s not always easy to make money from the arts? Do you have any advice for emerging artists?

I have worked as a freelance artist since leaving the newspaper in 2001. I have travelled all over the world as an artist. I was paid to go to China as a caricature artist on three occasions travelling to fourteen cities. I also went to Bolivia and Iran as a caricature artist as part of an exhibition and art festival. I have lived and worked in Dubai and Kuwait as an artist. Anything is possible if you want it enough.

My advice to an emerging artist is to work hard on your technical knowledge, create artwork constantly and create many folios to fit as many situations as possible. Take your artwork seriously as a product only you can create and market as such. Follow artists whose techniques you admire and watch how they sell their work.

Do not be limited by people expectations of how they believe you should create art. Always push boundaries and challenge yourself with new areas of art and expression. If you want to be an artist then BE ONE.

A big thank you to Joanne for allowing me to find out more about her and her wonderful creations.

If you would like a caricature by Joanne Brooker please visit one of the sites below.



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