Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Model, Idiot

My interview with the Bucks County Courier Times is running today...

Drawing on his talents

Bucks County Courier Times

As a child, Colin Harris would draw cartoon characters he'd see in the daily newspaper.

Today, Harris still draws cartoons, but they're inspired by real life.

Harris is a caricaturist, an artist who paints cartoon-like portraits that exaggerate a subject's facial features.

It's a job Harris hopes will keep him out of the 9-to-5 office world, where he once worked briefly.

Harris, 24, started drawing caricatures in 2003, when he was a student at Temple University's Tyler School of Art. A friend suggested a job with a company that provides caricaturists to Sesame Place.

At first, he said, he wasn't interested.

I said, "I don't draw cartoons," recalled the 2005 Temple graduate, who majored in printmaking.

Once he realized he could make money from art, he got a percentage of the drawings he sold, he changed his mind.

Now, I see everybody as a caricature, he said. I try to picture it all the time.

After graduation, Harris moved to Philadelphia and searched for drawing gigs there. He kept working at Sesame Place until this past summer, when he got a similar job at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J.

Still, he wasn't sure if he could make a living at his art. So Harris moved back home with his parents in Newtown Township and got an office job. He lasted six months.

I decided, "I can't do this,' he said about his office job. It's not me.

So he quit, launched his Web site and started what he calls a renegade advertising campaign in coffee shops and other places.

It's the ultimate goal of any artist survive off of what you do that others can't, he said. If I really worked at this, I could make it what I do.

Harris said Caricatures by Colin, the name of his business, seems to be taking off.

His childhood idol, cartoonist Bruce Blitz, helped him get a job drawing caricatures at Citizens Bank Park during Phillies games. Harris works corporate parties for $120 an hour. He also does drawings for hire, which costs between $40 and $60.

Harris, a 2001 Council Rock graduate, said he'll live at home until January, when he gets married. He said he realizes how important it is to be successful and, so far, things are going in that direction he's making enough to live on.

I think there's a lot of skeptical people out there who think you can't make a living as an artist, he said. It's hard not to be influenced by that. A lot of people don't get to do what they want to do. It's one of those things that if you don't try it, you'll kick yourself.


Visit http://www.colinharrisart.com/ or call 267-346-0104.