The Power of Caricatures - Kevin Kallaugher
THE POWER OF CARICATURES
Based on Kevin Kallaugher's talk at TEDxWarwick 2011
If a picture paints a thousand words, a caricature can also convey blistering satire along with political and historical comment. In his TEDxWarwick 2011 talk, celebrated cartoonist Kevin Kallaugher entertainingly reminisced about his career and the people he has drawn, showing examples of his work and sketching ad-hoc caricatures on the way.
During his presentation, one person in particular from his past sprang into mind. He was 12 years-old and in a music class at St Thomas the Apostle convent school. One nun had a practice of singing with her eyes closed during class and he thought he’d capture this. Firstly, Kallaugher drew her little pug nose and her shut eyes; then he moved on to her curly hair peeking out from underneath her habit. Next he drew her mouth, unflatteringly the size of a battleship, with her tongue sticking out, happily singing away.
Caricatures aren’t only magical, they can also be powerful. Imagine if a caricaturist had the opportunity to take your face, pull it apart and reassemble it under their control.
From the moment we are born our eyes are fixed on faces, trying to read them and figure out if they are friendly or threatening. We rapidly process this information in our brains. “To quote the 19th century British philosophy Mary Poppins”, joked Kallaugher, “’A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down’”. A good caricature pulls people in and helps to get the political or social point across. Yet not every good artist can do caricature. It’s like asking a concert violinist to be a jazz musician. Kallaugher is taking part in a research study at John Hopkins University to look at brain activity when he is drawing caricatures.
Kevin Kallaugher (KAL) is the editorial cartoonist for The Economist magazine of London.
After graduating from Harvard College with honors in 1977, Kevin embarked on a bicycle tour of the British Isles, where he joined the Brighton Basketball Club as a player and coach. After the club hit financial difficulties, Kevin drew caricatures of tourists in Trafalgar Square and on Brighton Pier. In March 1978, The Economist recruited him to become their first resident cartoonist in their 145 year history.He published a collection of his Economist drawings entitled Drawn from The Economist (1988) and three collections of his Baltimore Sun cartoons entitled KALtoons (1992), KAL Draws a Crowd (1996) and KAL Draws the Line (2000). A new collection KAL Draws Criticism was published in June 2006.
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