The Art & Entertainment of Caricature

Marissa Latshaw


A couple weeks ago, caricaturist Judy Tourangeau of Naugatuck, CT made a surprise visit to the GigMasters office. One by one, each of us sat across the table from her as she transformed us into humorous line drawings. We chatted as she quickly sketched - and within minutes, voila! So much fun seeing what features she picked out and how she really captured our unique faces. Yeah, I guess I do have plump cheeks. Anyway, the entertainment lives on as we now have a wall that makes us smile every time we pass it. What a great party idea - it really gets everyone talking!

We got to know Judy a bit better...and learned about what you should look for when you're hiring a caricaturist...

How did you become interested in drawing caricatures? Well, I guess you can say that I have always been intrigued by the physical, especially the facial characteristics of people, and in having a talent for being able to capture them, loved drawing them. I come from an “occasional portrait” background and transitioned into drawing caricatures (or in my case, portraits with a cartoony feel) regularly as a regular part of my profession in 2003.

In your experience, what type of events are best suited for caricature artists? Caricatures are suitable for any event, but some of the busiest and most fun have been high school, college, corporate picnic and public events (grand openings, appreciation days etc), where people typically express a real appreciation and excitement. Obviously the small to medium size events enable more people to be drawn.

What choices do your customers have when they hire you? I do front view faces 99.99% of the time (vs profiles) with either headshots or full body simple poses, color or black & white. I will do profiles if requested to do so. If they are concerned about time or speed (or budget), I will make suggestions based on their limitations.

When someone is hiring a caricature artist, what should they look for?

What questions should they ask? They should ask about the artist's style (if they haven’t seen it) to be sure it is either what they had in mind already, or agreeable; there are many different styles out there. They should ask price (and share the location of their event as this will usually vary with distance), and whether there are any minimum time-frames required. They may want to mention if they have B&W or color in mind, headshots or full body, multiples per pic or mix and match - all which will affect rate of speed. They should also ask about what is required to book a job.

How much time do you need to do a party with 10 guests, 25 guests, 50 guests or 100+ guests? At what point do you need to bring additional caricature artists with you? Approximate estimate range (because this will vary depending on color or B&W, headshots vs color, multiples vs single): 10 guests would be 1 hour – 1 hour and 15 minutes generally ; 25 guests would be 2 hours and 15 minutes – 3 hours and a half generally; 50 guests would be 5-6+ hours; 100 guests 10+ hours. That is of course, if most or everyone is being drawn, which never happens or is expected with large gatherings. If they want more drawn, usually there is a budget and there are multiple artists hired.

What is one thing you wish your clients knew about caricatures? That though Merriam Webster’s definition of “caricature” is: exaggeration by means of often ludicrous distortion of parts or characteristics, this is not a universal definition and open to interpretation and style. For example, there are artists who draw all mouths the same, in essence, have a “formula, and people don’t look as distinct but for hair, eye color etc. There are others who exaggerate to gross proportions, but really capture the person. My style strives to capture and usually succeeds at capturing the person’s features with either little or flattering exaggeration, a byproduct of my portrait background. So, be not afraid!

Judy Tourangeau, also known unofficially as JT Art & Design, is a multi-faceted artist & graphic designer in Naugatuck, and serves individual and small business clients throughout Connecticut and beyond. She received her BFA in Graphic Communications from Paier College of Art, Hamden CT and creates public or private caricature entertainment for corporate events, Bar Mitzvahs, birthdays, post-graduations and much more, as well as caricatures for gifts/party favors. She is also available to create custom pastel portraits, home renderings, and simple illustration, in addition to freelance print graphic design and production.

Have a question for Judy? Please let us know in the comments section below. Thinking about hiring a caricaturist for a party? Look no further than GigMasters!