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Caricatures are a global art thats practiced in every country of the world. But being a caricaturist in Philadelphia is unique because of its dense population and close proximity to other major US Cities and theme parks – I would know because I’ve been running around Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York with my easel for over 20 years! Here are my top 5 reasons to be a caricature artist in Philadelphia:

5) Theme Parks – There are A TON of them

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Every caricaturist that I know got their start learning to draw caricatures at theme parks. For me, it was Sesame Place located in Oxford Valley PA., a mere 5 minutes from my house. By pure chance they were having a difficult time hiring caricaturists for the summer of 1997, so they visited local high school art classes to recruit students looking for summer work. 20 years later I’m still drawing caricatures so thank you Sesame Place and Kaman’s Art Shoppes for teaching me how. Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson New Jersey is 45 minutes away. In the early 2000’s, my wife and I (girlfriend at the time) would get season passes to Great Adventure where I’d spend most of my time in the park seeking out caricature stands to watch and judge the artists. Some like roller coasters, others like silent judgement in art skills. Then you have Dorney Park in Allentown PA where my friend Julie got her start, Hershey Park, Dutch Wonderland and a bunch of others all within an hour of Philly. Lots of work out there for aspiring caricature artists.  

4) You’re Close enough to New York to be a New York caricaturist too

New York Mets themed Sign in board caricature for Ari’s Baseball Bar Mitzvah

New York is a huge market for Philadelphia caricature artists…if you don’t mind lugging your easel on the Trenton R3 Line and hitching a cab ride to your venue or putting a ton of miles on your car. You should also keep it to yourself that you draw at Phillies games due to the rivalry between the Mets and the Phils.

When I was starting my career and had a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm for building my caricature business (by any means necessary) I would take any gig I was asked to do. It would often start with a central new jersey caricature job where I would draw a relative from north jersey, who would like the sketch enough to hire me for their event in Manhattan. that would happen often and I’d excitedly leave the gig happy I had booked another on-the-spot. Then the realization would kick in that it was located in New York. Or North, North Jersey.

I once sketched at a Bar Mitzvah that was so far north in Jersey that I began seeing signs for Connecticut. That was also the day that my friend was getting married and I though I could swing sketching caricatures at a New Jersey Bar Mitzvah during the early afternoon and make it back for my friends wedding reception at night. I was wrong and spent nearly 4 hours each way getting to and from that gig.  I also once took my easel on the train right into manhattan for a wedding. It was drive to Trenton train station, then take the train into NYC, then cab to the venue. Sketch caricatures for four hours then cab back to the station, train home collapse. This was, like I said when I was way younger and more enthusiastic. But it was also well before I learned the value of charging premium pricing for mileage or expenses, so I think I spent most of my earnings on train and cab fare.

3) You can draw at Philadelphia Phillies Games

Chris taking a break after sketching these fun Phillies fans

Although I grew up a musician / artist with no interest in sports, it’s still really, really cool to draw caricatures at Citizen’s Bank Park during Phillies games. Especially during the years I worked there (2007–2012) where every game was sold out and fans were in awe of the Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Chase Utley triple threat. I vividly remember working during the playoff game where the Phillies beat the Diamondbacks to secure their place in the 2008 World series against the Tampa Bay Rays. I thought I was going to be deaf from the cheers echoing through the concourse of the park. I also thought the rabid fans swinging rally towels on Patterson Ave. were going to push over our employee bus transporting us to the employee parking lot at the Naval Yard. Better yet, I worked Game 4 of the 2008 World Series. I didn’t draw a single soul that day but it was worth it — I ran into some friends that had paid over $1000 a ticket to watch the game….and I was there for free. I even got to complain to them that I was upset that I wasn’t going to “make” any money that night. they were so mad – hilarious! I even parked for free. There are not a lot of perks of being an artist, but working at Phillies games is full of them!    

2) You can be a boardwalk caricaturist at the Jersey Shore

What could be better for a Philadelphia caricature artist than working at a Phillies game? Working at the Jersey Shore! If I could go back in time before I had responsibility I would drive 45 minutes on 195E to the Garden State Parkway to set up my easel and just see what happens. Survive off funnel cake, french fries and fried ice cream. Sketch enough funny faces to rent a hotel room for a week. Sketch even more and try to make it a month….or sleep in the back seat of the car for a week or two. Beach by day, caricatures by night. I’ve seen it done and it looks amazing. But those days are over for me I’m afraid. But they shouldn’t deter any young, aspiring Philadelphia Caricature artist from giving it a shot. Just make sure you let me know how awesome it is.    

1) Philadelphians are passionate, great people who know how to throw a party and have a good time

Are we having fun yet or what?!

It’s humbling to thing that so many great people over the past 20 years have  invited me into their home to draw their friends and family. They don’t know me at all, yet I’m in their home or a rented hall celebrating important family milestones like Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, Christenings, Retirements, birthdays and they know how to throw a party. While sketching party guests I’m often asked  if I like what I do. My response has been the same for 20 years and its 100% true. Of course I like what I do – I get invited to great parties and get to chat with amazing new people. They feed me TOO! What’s not to like?”

Looking to hire a caricature artist for your Philadelphia party? Contact Chris for rates and availability.

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