September 21, 2008 on 3:29 pm | By | In Notes | 4 Comments

That great populist TV art evangelist from the ’50s Jon Gnagy always opened his program with “If you can draw these simple forms: the ball, cone, cube and cylinder, you can draw a real picture the very first time you try”

I’m not really sure that it was true, but my good friend and master illustrator José Cruz has taken that dictum quite literally, pushed it about as far as it can be pushed, made it his mantra and applied it to his work. It can be seen in its purest form in the geometric caricatures he has posted on his icon©last Blog. The art of the caricature has always amazed me, but even more so in his startling work. How is it that with these few lines in his carefully composed geometric configurations that we can actually identify specific individuals? I don’t understand why, but they work—and artfully so! If you’re skeptical, look at the three below: from the Sopranos—Paulie “Walnuts”, from Curb Your Enthusiasm—Cheryl David, and from Entourage—Drama.

For more on the art of the caricature, check out “Celebrity Caricature in America” at the National Portrait Gallery.


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  1. Nice work! I’ll have to do a cross post on this one 😉

    Comment by Coria — February 6, 2009 #

  2. Michael, thanx 4 the PLUG!
    A few years back you mentioned that I should do caricatures in my style so here it is. You can also find Them on my Flickr site @
    I don’t recall that Jon Gnagy guy but I laughed out loud at his clown which reminded me of when I was in the 3rd grade I use to draw clown a lot. He however forgot the window high-light on the nose ( from a Tex Avery point of view).

    Note that on the Entourage Simple Designs I made the Vince Chase character more to his real looks to contrast him from his other less than perfect crew. I made Eric small in the square to fit the diminutive character he plays and to express his low position in the Hollywood Scene!
    As “simple” as they are, there is some careful thought behind them.
    Oh! I left the Knix Logo off the Turtle character so’s not to remind you!
    Thanx again.

    Comment by José Cruz — September 27, 2008 #

  3. That formula was Less equals More and More equals Less, More or Less!
    It got deleted somehow after I submited the comment.

    Comment by José Cruz — September 21, 2008 #

  4. I never actually saw myself doing caricatures at all till you mentioned it a few years back. They are quite fun to do. Some people I’ve noticed are harder to do than others like in the case of Vince Chase of Entourage which was hard to make him funny looking and take away from his good looks. I decided to do him more to his actual looks to contrast the other less than perfect characters from his crew.
    It is funny how I can see things in geometric form and convert that to actual people with just a few photos and the formula of & >=/<!
    Love those Jon Gnagy instructional videos.

    Comment by José Cruz — September 21, 2008 #

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