Q: Where did you get your start, and how long have you been a caricature artist?
A: Seaworld, Orlando, I was 17 and it was my first job. It’s been 11 years since then.
Q: Where are you currently working?
A: In my school bus on the road! I work from “home” now. I somehow made a living for myself drawing digital pet caricatures online, and the occasional mural (building a portfolio slowly but surely!)
Q: What kind of gigs are you doing, if any?
A: I haven’t done any caricature gigs since April of this year with my friend Jason and Emma in Gulf Shores. But I’m about to do the AZ State Fair with Drawsome Faces this October!
Q: COVID has had a huge impact on our industry. How has it impacted you personally, as a professional caricature artist?
A: It rocked my world. I had signed up for caricature jobs in the US and abroad, and that all got shut down. But it ended up being great for me. I had become increasingly unhappy with drawing caricatures live because of anxiety and back pain. It was a shove for me to pursue other types of art… Since the pandemic started, I started my online pet caricature business, dived into the world of murals, and built a tiny home on wheels.
Q: What are some of the caricature skills that you continue to use in your studio work?
A: Speed, efficiency, simplicity, color… there’s so many skills I picked up from drawing with hundreds of artists over the years. I’m still continually inspired by caricature artists I’m connected with online. Y’all are rockstars! This may be off topic, but caricatures also taught me valuable social and business skills too. It’s allowed me to live abroad, travel internationally, meet artists I admire, to be inspired and surprised by people. All of those experiences I use in my art and business.
Q: Are there things that you get from your personal work that retail caricature can’t provide? Do you like having the freedom to explore other topics and themes, for example?
A: Most definitely. For me, art is a form of therapy. It’s funny to draw at a stand all day, but then have to draw after that to unwind. I think I get pinned for my poppy, colorful style, but it’s nice to sit alone, to draw from within, whatever that may look like, and then throw those drawings away. When I got into art, it came from a place of pain. Now, it’s a tool to connect with and explore the deepest parts of myself.
Q: Tell us more about your pet caricature business. What are the best parts and what are the challenges, if any? How does it compare to drawing human faces? (Also, congrats on becoming an artist for Chewy!!)
A: Thank you!! It’s been truly great. It doesn’t feel like work. I have no anxiety or pressure about what the client will think (like I do with drawing people). I put on a podcast, music, an audiobook, or I chat with a friend, and just draw. I think the only challenge is that it’s a bit inconsistent. Chewy provides a set amount of orders each batch, but my commissions from my website or Instagram are unpredictable. Sometimes I’m a bit overwhelmed, but it’s exciting to balance the “day job”, mural jobs, and life.
Q: I'm also curious about your mural work, which from what I've seen are always beautiful, and super fun and colorful. Is this something you've always imagined yourself doing or did you kind of fall into it? How was the learning curve, and what is it about murals that you are most excited about?
A: I’ve always love seeing murals. I never thought it would be me painting them, but I think that was the insecurity talking. My first paid mural job was last year, it was an 85 foot wall. I needed a lift because it was so tall too. It was also my first time using spray paint and painting something remotely that big. By the end of it, I felt empowered. Creating with your whole body is something else! A town or business with murals just radiates joy to me and I’m honored when someone entrusts me with their wall.
Q: What are your favorite tools for retail or digital caricatures?
A: For retail: I love airbrush! But I’ve spent the majority of my live caricatures using Crayola refillable markers with Copic ink and Neocolor wax pastels.
For digital: I do everything on procreate in the iPad Pro now.
Q: What hobbies or passions do you have outside of caricature?
A: Ohhh so many things! Art, of course. But I love hiking with my dog, swimming, kayaking, being alone in the woods with no signal, all that outdoorsy ish. I love music. I started roller skating. In a few days the plan is to do my first tattoo. This year is the year I’m going to try all the dumb stuff I’ve always wanted to do
Q: Who are your favorite women artists in caricature or in related industries?
A: Literally all of you. So many women have inspired me not only artistically, but also in life. I’m amazed at caricatures artists who are businesswomen, caricature artists who got into tattoos, who are strong, and sure of themselves, who are kind and just so freakin cool. Ash Stryker, Kiko Yamada, Celeste Cordova, Lindsay Oliveres, Calisse Basada, Sara Davis, Emma Tipping, Mae Adao, Natalia Ashatan, Aimee Lew, Stacy Pierce, Celestia Ward, Kelly Berry, just to name a few caricature artists. All of y’all and more have just blown me away multiple times through the years in more ways than I can count. You all inspire me and push me more than you could ever know.
Q: Thanks again for participating in WIC's Artist Spotlight! Where can we follow your work?
A: Thank YOU! I’m so happy this group was formed. I feel like I’ve been lurking in the shadows of the caricature community for awhile, but believe me I’ve been celebrating all of your successes and rooting for all of you.
My IG: @komakes
Pet caricature IG: @pupped.up
My website with pet caricatures and murals: http://komakes.com